Monday, August 18, 2014

Online Moms' Groups and the Drama that ensues: on finding your own filter.

Ah, the Mommy Wars. Something I knew vaguely about before I had a kiddo, and now something that plagues me all the time -- I'm talking daily and in the one online moms' group I remain a part of. (Remember when I left all the rest of them?)

This week it's been a lot of upset women posting about how they feel marginalized and picked-on when X posts about Y.

Think think think before you type. Backspace is your friend.
An example: formula-feeding mothers commenting that they feel sad and judged because of all the recent support for breastfeeding mothers during the nursing-in-public debates.

On one hand, I find this bizarre considering it's exclusively-breastfeeding mothers who are in the minority in America, at least by the time the babes are 6 months old (and hence why there's been rallying to support nursing moms).

That said, I do, however, understand how reading a huge number of posts about breastfeeding would absolutely be a trigger for women who really wanted to breastfeed, but who couldn't for one reason or another. I've seen many friends trying to cope with this heartbreak, and I know how lucky I am that it worked for me (at least one of them did -- I fed the Wee Boy pretty much exclusively from Lefty for the first year.)

The thing is ... there are so many topics that are triggers for us. That's the problem with social media, right?

Just because I get upset when you post about your baby's or your parenting successes doesn't mean that you are doing anything wrong. 

But people do get upset -- I do get upset. Horribly. I've even hidden some of my very good friends on Facebook because they posted things like, "My baby has been sleeping through the night since she was 4 months old, and last night she was up twice. I'm soooooooo tired!!!" Yes, a simple post like that used to send me into a sobbing rage of jealousy and ire and feeling of massive failure (and occasionally still does, despite my knowing better).

It made me feel bad about myself. It made me feel guilty for feeling angry about someone else's success. It made me upset because, well, it wasn't actually making me feel anything -- I brought that upon myself.

You see, my head knows that the woman who posted that genuinely did feel awful and truly was soooooooo tired when her baby stopped sleeping through the night, even if the emotionally-immature part of me wanted to roll my eyes and say you have no idea!

See? It's not healthy. My sleep-deprived Mommy-brain is irrational. I don't like it. It makes me sad, and it makes me mean. I have to force myself to think before I type.

I guess what I'm saying is there each one of us has our triumphs and our successes. And when we post about our triumphs, yes, we are probably making someone out there feel bad. But does that mean we should stop posting completely? Does it mean we should eliminate the support groups?

I don't have a solution, but I am trying really hard to use a filter when I read people's posts. I use the delete key a lot. I don't want to be the annoying person who comments, "Just you wait!" or "You have no idea what tired is!" or "Stop bragging because you're making the rest of us feel bad." I want to be a better person than that, even though it is admittedly my first instinct. I want to try to see everything from other people's points of view and try to see each person's call for help. Of course, that's a lot easier to say that than to behave rationally when you type faster than you think.

It's not about breastfeeding mothers making formula mothers feel bad. It's not about I'm-more-tired-than-you-are. It's not about organic food or disposable diapers or un-schooling or co-sleeping. It's about support, right?



So if your support groups aren't making you feel supported:
  1. First ask yourself if it's truly the fault of the group -- or if maybe it's just the filter through which you're seeing things. As far as I can tell, everyone out there is just trying to do they best they can for their family. No one is doing anything at you -- sorry to say, it's not usually about you at all. People make individual choices, and most people think their choices are good ones or they wouldn't be doing them.
  2. If the group members aren't supportive, or if you aren't mentally in a place to accept differences in parenting, leave them and find some place where you feel safe.
Sounds easy, right? I just hope I can follow my own advice the next time X posts about Y, and I start to cry.

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