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This article has gone viral in my mommy circles: Stop the Mommy Wars: Empowering Photo Series. A bunch of moms got together to hold up signs about their decisions to show that they could still all be friends and it was totally cool because they're supportive and non-judgemental.

I agree that raising kids can be stressful, and brings up a lot of questions, and you do need some fellow mom and dad friends to lean on for support. And I tend to select my friends based on coolness, just like I have my ENTIRE LIFE, so if I was ever at a party and heard a snide "they let her wear that?" comment directed at my daughter that person probably wouldn't make my dinner party list.

But I'm still standing by my opinion that a little mommy judgement is healthy.

Why can't women have the right to have it out sometimes? Why does everything have to get down to "well it's my CHOICE if you're a good feminist you support all my CHOICES!"

Some of this stuff is not harmless. Is homebirth safe? Is a measles outbreak worth the risk of skipping vaccines? Is circumcision still a good idea? You make the wrong call on these things, there can be some real consequences.

Other stuff is kinda harmless but hardly noble. We used disposable diapers. I'm not proud. I don't need every cloth-diapering mom to tell me my choice is okay with them... it's probably not! I'd rather my friends be honest with me. And let's face it, maybe I've done some things I deserve to feel guilty about.

Obama and Romney could hash it out in debates and no one said they were being "unsupportive". And they're not friends. But it's okay because they're men. But if women disagree, it's a catfight, it's a "mommy war". Pretty low-grade definition of war there.

I don't need 100,000 friends, I need like three. So while I can be polite during a cocktail party running into other moms who disagree with me, I see no reason to hide my feelings towards everyone, all the time.

And I definitely don't need to be nice on the internet. It's the internet! I love you readers but I've met like three of you, and only the ones I really liked. The internet is where I LEARNED why I shouldn't let a baby cry it out, I got jumped on and didn't understand some bigger issues, I read up and changed my mind and moved on. It was healthy.

I think women deserve to have their opinions, and then they deserve to have their opinions questioned. Especially the most privileged women in the world! You don't see moms in Syrian refugee camps debating whether homebirth is safe... to them, "support" means clean water and an ounce of medical care. We have enough happiness in our lives we don't ALSO need validation of every choice we make, it's a luxury that we even have the choices. Let's help each other make the right ones.


( 23 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 26th, 2014 03:01 pm (UTC)
Yesterday, at knitting class, the other mommy said that she tried to take her child to a chicken pox party, and it turned out that the other lady's children had hand-foot-and-mouth disease and not chicken pox. Did I judge?
Jan. 26th, 2014 04:22 pm (UTC)
Let me at her. She does know that chicken pox is a herpes virus, right? Just follow her around telling everyone she knows that she tried to give her kid herpes.
Jan. 26th, 2014 06:35 pm (UTC)
what in the world is chicken pox party?? Last time my sis and I got it we were in quarantine for weeks. There was no talk about parties. I remember my mom not allowing us to mail out letters we had written either, just in case! lol…and now there are parties? I am completely confused!

Jan. 26th, 2014 07:07 pm (UTC)
wait wait, these things still exist? I mean people go out exposing their kids to illnesses so they can get the immunity?! I thought those died out in the 80's.
Jan. 27th, 2014 10:56 am (UTC)
For most (but certainly not all) children chicken pox is a minor illness; it is an illness that few (but not no) people get more than once; and it is more likely to be much worse for you in adulthood; it's hard to totally avoid it your whole life. Thus the theory that every child should *get chickenpox* as young as possible, so every opportunity should be taken to expose your child to children with chickenpox to ensure they get it.

It's a sort of very rudimentary notion of vaccination. It might even have been a sensible idea at some point, but these days there IS A REAL VACCINE, which doesn't cause the illness, and is better at conferring immunity.

Feb. 4th, 2014 01:44 pm (UTC)
Chicken pox might be a minor illnes when they are young, but then you risk developing shingles later in life. So you are potentially give your child two diseases in one... bonus! :/
Jan. 27th, 2014 03:42 am (UTC)
Does she know there's a vaccine for that now? Far safer than actually giving your kid chicken pox.
Jan. 27th, 2014 02:21 pm (UTC)
We live in a place with a lot of whooping cough because people do not believe in vaccinating their children.
Jan. 28th, 2014 01:23 am (UTC)
I am not pro or anti vaccine..my kids are vaccinated.

but I have a huge problem with this myth being perpetuated that whooping cough outbreaks are due to parents refusing vaccines. It is not accurate. It is widely understood that when they switched to the current vaccine from the old live version they saw a big drop in efficacy. New vaccine came out in the 90s so if you happened to see that npr map, I would pay it some scrutiny in light of that information.</p>

But even the old vaccine didn't provide lifelong immunity. That means there are adults all over the damn place who can have pertussis (which no longer looks like pertussis) and spread it unknowingly. We had three kids on my street under ten get pertussis last year, all fully vaccinated. There are no known pockets of vaccine avoiders near us. In fact our vaccination rates are well above adequate for herd immunity in mass. Just like they are in most places in our country. Blaming the "crazy anti vaccine" folks is just not a valid argument with that one and in fact could cause more harm than good.

Measles is another vaccine with known efficacy issues. They doubled the required dose to compensate for pockets of illness in vaccinated populations. It could happen again. It's not a perfect system.

The marginalizing of people questioning our medical practices and pharmaceutical industry is probably my biggest beef with the whole mommy war topic. I just don't think it leads to a true advancement. I had always believed good science meant questioning the status quo. Apparently not if that question is vaccines, You literally cannot ask a question about whether our vaccine program works as promised without catching a wrath of nonsense.

Jan. 28th, 2014 02:13 am (UTC)
Our county has the lowest vaccination rate and the highest pertussis rate in the whole state.

Jan. 28th, 2014 06:44 pm (UTC)
Are you no longer in Baltimore? According to a 2010 report, Baltimore's school-age immunization rate topped 99.5 percent.

What you COULD have is a really low vaccination rate among adults (which again, supports my point that blaming 'anti vac parents' is misguided).

There is no real vaccination program for adults and a big challenge around creating one. Namely: getting healthy adults to go in for regular appointments and getting insurance to cover the cost of the shot. Right now it's offered to new moms and partners but there a whole lot of people that are not covered.

(Suspicious comment)
Jan. 28th, 2014 07:32 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure Colorado is so special. The whole country (apart from CA) is seeing big increases in pertussis and vaccination rates don't seem to play a role (except perhaps if you looked at adults which are not as well documented).

see here: http://www.cdc.gov/pertussis/images/pertussis-graph-2012-lg.jpg

Ironically, "The only state to not have a spike in whooping cough is California."

Kevin Cranston, director of the Mass. Department of Public Health's Infectious Disease Bureau, said that unlike previous outbreaks in some West Coast states, the local rise can't be attributed to children not receiving their vaccines. (A curious statement given california has worse vaccination rates but is not seeing the increase.)

"We have some of the best childhood immunization rates in the country, but pertussis is one of those diseases where it's just as important to vaccinate the adults in the household," Cranston said.

Read more: http://www.lowellsun.com/todaysheadlines/ci_22145033/pertussis-proliferation-has-mass-health-providers-worried#ixzz2ritSwoyR

We had 560 cases in Mass in 2012. Double the rate of the previous year. No change in vaccination rates.

There are two hypothesis. One: that it's the new vaccine (see here: http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1200850?query=featured_home)

The other is that there is a new, vaccine-resistant strain: http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/2013/02/09/new-strain-of-whooping-cough-resistant-of-current-vaccine/

Jan. 28th, 2014 08:02 pm (UTC)
Here's another, cleaner look at the data:

Pertussis reporting by state:

Vaccine exemptions reported by state (crappy data but what everyone cites when they complain about 'crazy anti vac parents')

Both of those data sets shift a little from year to year. What you don't see is any pattern that follows that fewer vaccines = more pertussis.

Don't get me wrong. I don't think the answer is necessarily don't vaccinate but it REALLY bothers me that we're making up a scapegoat (vaccine avoiders) when really, it seems pretty clear to me that the outbreak problem is not to do with whether you got the vaccine or not. Even in that pool of data you shared, the vast majority of illness was in fully vaccinated individuals (or at least vaccinated as expected which would be the case of the baby and younger child).

If we, as a society, feel so strongly about vaccines with regards to public health than should we not be holding the pharmaceutical companies to produce vaccines that work as promised? What I see is a lot of coercion to get more people buy a subpar product with zero evidence that more shots will affect change. I mean we're up to 5 boosters now with Pertussis and research indicating immunity is only around 80% immediately following the last shot and drops rapidly. It personally makes me feel like I'm getting duped.
Jan. 28th, 2014 08:24 pm (UTC)
The vast majority of people are fully vaccinated. Therefore, in any outbreak, you would expect the number of people affected to reflect the number of people in the general population unless those people are specially susceptible for some reason.

If I had 100 people, and 75 wore red shirts and 25 wore blue shirts. If I chose people at random, I would expect three out of every four to have red shirts. It is not just because red shirted people are slower and easier to catch. It's just that there are more of them.
Jan. 27th, 2014 06:59 am (UTC)
Bwahahahahah! Oops.

We had a close escape with hand-foot-mouth this past week. My 2-year-old spiked a fever the evening of the day we'd been informed of three reported cases in her daycare. Luckily, that was all that came of it.

The chicken pox vaccine is routine in Germany, and we were lucky enough to have moved there from the Netherlands just at the age when she would've gotten her first dose. Our new pediatrician when he found out that the Netherlands doesn't vaccinate against it routinely gave a look and an under-the-breath-comment in German along the lines of "idiots".

I had a pretty bad case of it when I was not old enough to be prevented from scratching, hence I still bear the scars. My husband has never had it, and as soon as his new insurance gets sorted out, he's going to be vaccinated, because we really don't want him catching it now.
Jan. 26th, 2014 06:39 pm (UTC)
Well said!
Jan. 26th, 2014 09:05 pm (UTC)
One of my best friends is a mom whose philosophies run totally opposite to mine. She scheduled her C-section, she didn't breastfeed for more than a few months, she used disposable diapers, she faithfully adhered to the vaccine schedule, she lets her kid watch lots of TV and eat processed foods, I seriously doubt she ever considered doing kangaroo care....about the only common ground in parenting we share is that we don't spank. And yet when I had to go out of town for five days, SHE is the one I trusted to watch my child. Why? Because she's a damn good mom, even though her version of parenting differs from mine. I don't need other moms to agree with me across the board to know that they are good mothers, just as I don't need my friends to identify as Feminists to know they're intelligent, women-centric, etc.

Also, my personal feeling is I don't want uniformity. Many of the attitudes I hold about parenting now are radically different from what I thought parenting should look like 10 years ago. Much of that is due to taking the risk of voicing my opinions, only to receive feedback from folks that ran completely opposite. I haven't changed all of my opinions, but presented with facts and evidence, I will. Even if I resent the argument initially, some time to reflect generally makes me grateful for the opportunity to have that exchange. For example, I was totally on board with circumcision when I first heard about all the fracas a decade or so ago...having now down the research, I realize how wrong I was, and even though I don't have particularly warm feelings towards the person who schooled me, I'll always be grateful that argument lead me to do the research and see that she was right.

It bothers me than when women fight, it's dismissed as a cat fight. The term is demeaning, sexist, and completely shames women who deign to voice their opinions, especially if they're against the grain. It reminds of the time my exasperated in-laws asked, "Why can't you just get along with her?" referring to my stepson's mom, and before I had a chance to explain that we get along just fine, but as a parent to the son we share, I have the right to disagree with her, my chauvinist of a father-in-law snapped, "Because it's just a cat fight to them, a cat fight over a man," meaning my husband. Way to completely gloss over the fact the disagreement had NOTHING to do with my husband (as we had been married for some time at that point) and was actually about a parenting matter, while simultaneously invalidating that the right to disagree existed at all.

It's safe for women to debate. It's healthy. One of the reason I choose to surround myself with such strong women is I want them to call me out when I'm wrong, but more than that, I want them to challenge me to do better even when they think I'm right. Especially where my parenting is concerned, because my choices don't just impact me. They impact my child, and will naturally go on to impact every person she interacts with. It's a big responsibility to bear for any parent, especially so when you had a piss poor example and are still struggling to figure it out all despite not having great models yourself.

All that being said, there's a fine line between debating with someone, and judging them. Especially where parenting is concerned. As you know, you are judged on everything kid-related, whether it's within your control or not. Someone can say, "Hey, what you're doing? It didn't really work for our kid. Here's what we tried to handle this instead," and I'll listen to them and either try it, or offer an explanation as to why their suggestion doesn't really work for me. Nothing good comes from them telling me, "Hey, shitbag? You're an idiot and you're screwing your kid up, why is that always the case with parents that do X?" The distinction between judgment and disagreeing is clear and present.

Edited at 2014-01-26 09:42 pm (UTC)
Jan. 27th, 2014 03:44 am (UTC)
there's a fine line between debating with someone, and judging them

And I think the 'mommy wars' are the ones that are judgy, not actually debating or talking about things.
Jan. 27th, 2014 03:56 am (UTC)
Totally agree. I guess I was trying to say that discussions of parenting issues aren't unsupportive or part of the Mommy Wars, at least in my book. If my fellow moms (or even non moms) want to have a discussion about the merits of, say, why cloth diapering isn't a great choice, I'm happy to engage. Most moms I know like to poll other moms, even if they aren't close friends, on matters of parenting and will accept that feedback. The line tends to get blurred if someone moves from discussing the parenting issue (in this example, cloth diapering) to the parent specifically. And for me personally, that threshold is even higher; I'm happy to let someone give me their feedback about why my decisions or actions should be reconsidered, provided that feedback is respectful. But I know it's different for everyone, so unless I feel like it's a real issue of safety, I keep it to myself.

Edited at 2014-01-27 04:32 am (UTC)
Jan. 27th, 2014 06:55 am (UTC)
I am all about some appropriately-applied judgement when the topic of vaccinations comes up. I heard a lovely quote the other day: "The only thing scientifically proven about the delayed vaccine schedule is that your child is unprotected against diseases for longer."
Jan. 27th, 2014 11:09 pm (UTC)
if this was actually true, why wouldn't they just give every baby every single vax they will be needing in life on the day they are born, then they can immediately be protected?
Jan. 28th, 2014 09:09 am (UTC)
In part because you don't get immediate protection from a single dose -- you need to have multiple doses to build up the immunity for some diseases (this is why even if you were vaccinated as a child, you'll still need to go in for booster shots as an adult). In another part because the child needs to develop some immunity before exposing them to certain vaccines, which generally occurs within the first 1-2 months.
Jan. 27th, 2014 11:09 pm (UTC)
i really liked what you said. my may due date board on fb just posted that we aren't allowed to talk about vax or circumcision anymore because these topics get too heated and feelings are hurt. well, shit. honestly i was pretty polite on the circ board, i didn't name call or anything, just shared MY feelings about how I felt after having my OWN SON CUT. (awful would be the summary of that)

so in the comments, other people were like, YAH why can't we all just get along? and agreeing and even suggesting other topics that should be off-limits.

i fell on my face when one of the suggestions was carseats. "how about no talking about rf vs ff carseats? i'm on another board where it can get pretty heated and i'm tired of hearing about it"

i was like whoah, wait, what? circumcision, vaccines, even breastfeeding vs. formula feeding can all be categorized as parenting decisions, but carseat safety is something completely different. forward facing your 8 month old isn't a parenting choice, its incredibly dangerous and illegal. i reserve the right to be able to tell you so. its education, not judgment. i didn't know very much and broke nearly every single carseat law and recommendation in the book when my son was a baby because no one told me and i didn't know that i didn't know. we turned him ff at age 1 because it said we could on the side of the seat. (sadly, the LAW is still 1 and 20 pounds in most states because it takes forever to get laws changed, even though it is 100% proven that it needs to be at least 2 now, even the AAP agrees with that)

so if we can't tell the people who just want the best for their babies but don't know what that is, what the heck is a fb baby group even FOR?
( 23 comments — Leave a comment )

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