Almost every day I check in with my mom friends to ask them for advice. I have a running group text with Mary and two other friends, as well as a whatsapp chat with the four friends from my high school group who are moms. We send each other pictures, tell each other about funny or disheartening episodes and ask random questions, from fertility to contraception, and sleep training to sibling rivalries. I also constantly ask my sister about everything, from what she is making for dinner to how to I go about potty training.
My friends, my sister and almost every mom that I know, including newer friends and neighbors, seem to be up to the challenge of helping another mom out, and they too seek advice from me, even when they parent differently.
If you went by what we are told in the media, however, women – and especially moms – are a vicious group of judgy people. While I have experienced curious looks, odd questions, infinite opinions and strong emotions from friends, family, acquaintances and strangers about what I choose to do or not to do in parenting, the reality is that the women around me, the ones that really matter, are actually a very supportive group. Without other women in my life I am not sure how good a mom, or a person, I would be.
Having supportive friends is important as an individual;
as a mom it is absolutely necessary.
I have strong opinions about several things in parenting. The one I feel most strongly about is breastfeeding, as you can read here and here. This can be a touchy subject because many people feel that if you advocate for breastfeeding you judge those who formula feed, and if you formula feed you don’t support breastfeeding. Personally, I have had good and bad experiences with breastfeeding my kids, but for me extended nursing has been the way to go. Still, I have friends who could not nurse, could but chose not to nurse, or nursed for a brief period of time then switched to formula. One of my best friends absolutely hated nursing and goes as far as to say very honestly that she is just not supportive of breastfeeding. Although I strongly disagree with her, I know this is how she feels, and her honesty is one of the things I absolutely love about her. This difference of opinions doesn’t mean that we judge each other. She is lovely, and a great friend, and that is what matters to me. I just won’t ask her for breastfeeding advice.
I recently told a friend who is in another country and having difficulty breastfeeding her 2 month old that she should seek out a breastfeeding mom’s group, which she did and has been enjoying. “I found that to be very helpful,” I told her. Then I realized that in the play group we had when my son was a baby I was the only one who breastfed, as the other three women had had their children through adoption. The benefit of spending time with them was not about specific choices, it was about our friendship, regardless of those choices.
There is a trend in presenting women as conniving and judgy. Females in movies spend a lot of time judging and hurting each other, even if at the end all is well and resolved – you can see this in movies like Bridesmaids and Legally Blonde. I get it, it is funny. Just as the recent Similac commercial about parenting is funny. Very, very funny. (Seriously, if you haven’t seen it yet, do it now, Mary posted it here last week.)
Maybe I am naive, but I no longer feel like I am being judged every time I step out of my house or go to the playground, like I did when I had just recently become a mom, and I was very insecure about my parenting. Believe me, there are plenty of days when I leave the house showing that I didn’t sleep and haven’t bought new clothes in a long time, while my kids have crusty snot faces (because there are just so many times I can wipe their noses between 7 and 8:30 a.m.). But when I text my friends to tell them that baby #2 just ate a handful of baby #1’s poop while I was drawing their bath (true story), they laugh with me and not at me.
Strangers, and especially those writing anonymous comments on blog posts and articles may judge my decisions, but the people who matter don’t.
If you have judgy friends, you should really start looking at your relationships. Friendships, regardless of whether you are a mom or not, should be supportive and positive, and women are both of those.
I love my friends and my sister, and really enjoy the company of other moms, even when they do things differently than I would.
Do you have a mom group near or far? What kid of support do you get from other women?