I love to learn. I devour any new information, anything that expands and enhances what I may already know about nutrition, health, babies, culture etc. Learning is limitless, and no matter how well read and researched I feel I may be, every day I discover new information that challenges my current sub-par thinking, and time and time again I’m challenged to confront what I believe. I like this about myself. I’m not satisfied with the status quo (at least, what I perceive as status quo) and strive to set the bar higher and further with every bit of information I receive, and I enjoy living life this way.
A fact you may not know: I am an ENFP. There’s no question in my mind or grey area around this assumption, Myer’s Briggs nailed my personality type without flaw. I stumbled across this quote in an article that described me to perfection:
“ENFPs often have strong, if unconventional, convictions on various issues related to their Cosmic View. They usually try to use their social skills and contacts to persuade people gently (?) of the rightness of these views; this sometimes results in their neglecting their nearest and dearest while flitting around trying to save the world.”
My mom is nodding her head in wholehearted agreement as she reads this.
I love to share/convince/make you believe what I believe, and often mistakenly take the approach of “take it or leave it, but you better believe it!” And I’ll be honest, I’d much prefer you take it. And to top it all off, motherhood has multiplied this process by approximately a million. Myer’s Brigg’s evaluation doesn’t excuse my behavior, (and I’m really working on curbing it!) but it definitely explains a lot. And not just about myself, but so many other momma’s out there.
We all know the phrase, “girls can be catty”, and there’s no doubt in my mind this label was coined when the first generation of females went through Junior High. Girls are tough - they can rip each other apart and destroy any ounce of self worth in one, feisty stab in the back. If girls are cats, then momma’s are tigers, and the fighting doesn’t stop at childbirth, it only gets nastier, feistier, and a whole lot more personal.
The intricacies of raising a child from birth are immeasurable. After two or three decades of only thinking about ourselves we become faced with the responsibility of being the decision maker for every detail of our child’s life. Some may be more ready than others, having invested in a library worth of reading, preemptively planning each step of the way and facing decisions steadfast and absolute, or at least with careful thought and study. Others of us make decisions based on what we’ve seen done, going with the flow of what is normal and relying on our upbringing and cultural influence.
There is so much information (mostly media driven), and so much of what we do in our culture is “default parenting”. The general population allows the media, advertising, healthcare providers, and the stocked shelves in their local Superstore to decide the fate of their future. I’m 100% guilty of this mentality. The rest of the population tend to lean toward being information junkies, researching everything with incredible detail, and relentlessly summoning all to follow in there footsteps. I feel like I fall somewhere in the middle.
Many of the decisions I made were based on the mainstream culture and I was devastated to find out that what I thought was best for my baby boy was often in fact someone else’s chance at making a buck. As I moved through the journey of mothering over this last year, I was sickened to discover that so much of what I was spoon fed about what was best for my child, was in fact a money-making, marketing strategy, set out to deliver a mediocre start to my child’s life for the betterment of a few large corporations. But what can be equally devastating is making innocent, and even well thought out decisions, and being told via someone’s facebook status update (in a roundabout way) that I’m an ingnorant, mindless and misinformed mother.
Social media avenues like Facebook and Myspace are too often used as “protected platforms” for moms to innocently share information, but for what purpose, and at what cost?
There seems to be a level of rationalization in the realm of mom slashing; that, somehow, defacing a mothers’ dignity and shaming her for her choices by thoughtlessly pushing information regarding parenting decisions is offering a measure of protection for all children, and therefore, justified.
I’m as passionate as the next person, and I fully understand (and love!) all you momma’s out there who are like me, or perhaps even a little fierier (!), but I think there comes a point when we need to tame that fire, step back, and ask ourselves what our motivation is, and who our hot head is going to hurt in the process. Our words need to be chosen wisely, graciously, and with understanding that we’re all at different places in our mothering journey.
By the same token, there is an all too common and far too comfortable passivity in our culture to take things in stride with what we know, without having to dig too deep to find it. There is a wealth of information at our finger tips, and if we uncover the rubble we will find so much we weren’t aware of. I am grateful for the women in my life who have shared with me some of their knowledge and findings, and I’ve been challenged to deliberately evaluate the choices I make as a parent. But I promise you, these women did not defame my character and decisions in the process.
We can be passionate without be arrogant, and we can share our knowledge and beliefs without crushing each others spirit. We must parent with thoughtfulness, make informed choices, and allow others wisdom to challenge our own. Let’s live, love and learn with one another in harmony, respecting and encouraging one another as we grow and move in this beautiful journey of motherhood together.