A hum of conversation fills the room as women nibble at cheese and fruit and sip tea while keeping a close eye on nearly a dozen babies attempting to walk or crawl or sit. Around the edges of the room sit a row of blue chairs, each with a white sign balanced on it. On the walls are photos of various women holding those signs—two or three women in each photo, smiling and leaning together, clearly friends even though the signs they hold say the opposite things.
I had a homebirth after Caesarean.
I had a hospital birth.
I had a water birth at home.
I use a stroller.
I wear my child.
I work outside the home.
I'm a stay-at-home mom.
I work at home.
No More Mommy Wars!: a photo project was started by local mom and blogger Shauna Stewart Douglas. As a new mom, she quickly encountered the judgement that almost every mom today has faced. You're doing that wrong. You should be doing this. You aren't doing enough. Shauna started a Facebook group for moms in Victoria to have a safe place to ask questions and share their ideas. This fall, inspired by CT Working Mom's Campaign for Judgement-Free Motherhood, Shauna started her own photo project.
I was thrilled to meet Shauna at the event and to chat with some other moms as we watched our children play. I also wanted to take my own picture, but I wanted to hold two signs. My mantra as a mom has been that every family does what is right for their family, and that will look different for each family—and even for each child. My parenting has changed as my children have grown. I picked these two signs because I do co-sleep—but I also use a crib. (And, ironically, I also wear my child, as the sign in the back says, but I have four strollers too.)
As I drove to the event, I thought about all the silly things that divide parents and how my own parenting has changed over the past five years. Before Sunshine was born, a friend of ours shared her enthusiam for co-sleeping and I listened dubiously, intent on using a crib still—until Sunshine changed my mind by refusing to sleep in that crib. I exclusively cloth-diapered Sunshine, but with Jade, I use disposables at night and cloth during the day. I bought a change table for Sunshine, like most moms do, but now I don't have one, as another friend of ours suggested when Sunshine was little.
As moms and dads, we are all unique. We each have different parenting situations and unique children. And of us has to figure out how to raise our children in the best way possible. That's not going to look the same for each of us, but we'll find a way that works. I've had friends ask me how I manage to juggle being a full-time student while having three daughters, but I'm also amazed by the things they accomplish. And so I applaud Shauna's project and hope it does foster more sharing of ideas and less casting of judgement among moms.