Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Mean Girls

I was listening yesterday to an NPR story about moms who have voluntarily given up custody of their young children, not because they were destitute or addicts, but simply because they realized motherhood was not for them. They had other goals and aspirations, and being a full-time mom did not fit into that picture. So, they opted to grant full or primary custody to the fathers. Many of these women expressed that their biggest fear in all this was what others would say or think of them.

It really got ME thinking, and my first inclination was to pass judgment. I mean, they CHOSE to have children, right? Didn't they feel the love and connection to their children that I feel for my daughter? How could they do this? And where do the children's feelings fit in this picture?

Then, my more awesome self was like, "why am I passing judgement on these women who I don't even know?" Every day fathers give up or lose custody of their children and very rarely do we judge them. Some dads probably breathe a huge sigh of relief while others might be devastated. Was I that hung up on gender role stereotypes that I wasn't thinking rationally?

I don't pretend to have the answers. I know I could never opt out of full time parenthood in order to explore more career options, have more "me" time, etc. But I don't want to be one of the mean girls either.

I guess I just thought about my initial reaction, and realized that I was one of the people they feared: a mean girl passing judgment based on what I would or would not have done.

Why are women so hard on each other anyways? Breastfeeding vs. bottle, unmedicated birth vs. epidural, sleep training vs. co-sleeping, working moms vs. stay at home moms. Can't we all just get along? Do we have to whisper about each other behind closed doors and cluck our tongues in disapproval? Aren't we all just trying to be happy and find our path? While this story presented a radical example, the core underlying factor remains true.

I guess it starts with each of us choosing to support each other through the process of womanhood and motherhood and agreeing to disagree sometimes. I guess for my part, it starts with me.

"Why can't we be friends, why can't we be friends"


Amira said...

I think it's a combination of how society tells us to be and inherent human (and female) behavior that pins us against each other. I don't know, but for me personally, I hate passing judgement on someone at face value because I'd hate for others to do that to me, which does happen often. Even if I knew the person and their lives and reasons, it makes me uncomfortable to think that I would be any "better." Something along the lines of walking in someone else's shoes.

Sheesh, things sure would be smoother if women actually created and supported a positive network for each other because you know what? At the end of the day, we're all just trying to be the best we can. And the definition of best is and should be totally subjective without ridicule.

Erika said...

A-MEN sister. :) How did I know you would have something awesome to say about this?