Saturday, March 29, 2014

Flinging Word Grenades

There is a mini-brouhaha brewing online that some of you might be aware of, and other (Perhaps wiser! Haha!) folks have no idea about.  Gwyneth Paltrow, the star who named her children Apple and Moses and is in the midst of a "conscious uncoupling" with her husband, Christ Martin of Coldplay, made what appears to be quite a controversial blog post on her web site this week.  Let me share with you what she wrote:

"I think it's different when you have an office job, because it's routine and, you know, you can do all the stuff in the morning and then you come home in the evening," she continued. "When you're shooting a movie, they're like, 'We need you to go to Wisconsin for two weeks,' and then you work 14 hours a day and that part of it is very difficult. I think to have a regular job and be a mom is not as, of course there are challenges, but it's not like being on set."

Seems them are fightin' words.  Other bloggers are on the attack, blasting her for her insensitivity to the plight of "real" working moms everywhere.  Comments range from pointing out how easy it is when you have plenty of money to hire nannies, to rage over her ability to dictate her work schedule, keeping it to one film a year so she can be more present to for her children.

I have to admit, upon first read, my most immediate inner thought was, "Wow, how naive she is!!  This is not going to go unnoticed.", and indeed, it hasn't.

Upon further reflection though, I see how this is just another round in the "Mommy Wars" that we American women seem determined to keep participating in, with Gwyneth just as equal an adversary as everyone who is blasting her via the internet.  

When are we going to lay down our arms and start supporting one another instead of judging one another???

As I was reading the venomous attacks which so many thought Gwyneth deserved for her ignorant comments,  I couldn't help but think just how little those same bloggers knew about Gwyneth's life...the exact fact they were throwing  so callously at her.  

How many of us have tried to parent long distance of from a set working 14 hours or more a day?  How many of us have tried to coordinate schedules for an entire staff of people whose livelihoods depend upon our success in a field which is crowded with ever younger, ever cooler, up and coming hot bodied stars when we are in our 40's?  I don't know about you, but I have never tried to memorize a script while trying to carpool, I have never had to worry (obviously) about my body to the degree that a film actress does knowing I am inevitably aging and MUST stave off the effects no matter what or my career is finished.  I have never had to deal with the cut-throat world of Hollywood, the casting couch, the financing of projects, and the ongoing fear of crippling my children in ways only a wealthy lifestyle can do.

For everyone who condemned Gwyneth for her lack of understanding of a "regular" mom's daily life, how many truly understand HER daily life as a mom?

Very few, would be my guess.

We moms in America love to attack one another.   I know what it feels like, and I bet many of you moms of this generation do as well.  Perhaps more than any other generation, we are judged for our parenting decisions to a degree that is deeply wounding, and leaves many of us feeling perpetually inadequate and questioning our parenting decisions.  In case you hadn't yet figured it out, this hinders us from being our Best Mommy Selves.

I am not oblivious to the fact that almost every single thing I have done as a Mom has been questioned by others, sometimes not so silently.  Never mind the fact that no one else on earth is parenting in our exact set of circumstances so can't possibly be able to understand our family completely in order to make those judgments.  Here are just a few of the things we have been judged for over the years:

1)  Where we adopted from
2)  Who we adopted
3)  What race of child we adopted
4)  What age of child we adopted
5)  Cloth diapers versus disposable
6)  Co-Sleeping with our children
7)  Letting my 11 year old walk around with a blankie
8)  Too many outside activities
9)  Too few outside activities
10)  Not sending our kids to preschool
11)  Letting our kids have the occasional soda
12)  Pizza
13)  "Forcing" our kids to work
14)  Homeschooling
15)  Public schooling
16)  Not getting immediate dental care or eye care when we can't afford it
17)  Not letting my 6 year old son spend the night at someone's home when it felt unsafe to me
18)  Trick or treating as Christians, rather than going to a Harvest Festival
19)  Not being academically "rigorous"enough
20)  Not enough gifts at Christmas
21)  No cell phones (How could you???)
22)  Not getting our kids obtain their driving permits yet
23)  Letting my 14 year old son play superheroes
24)  Accepting contributions from our kids to help purchase "extras" we all want but can't provide
25)  Saying "please" to our kids when asking them to do something

And it goes on and on and on.  At least in our case there was no questioning us about the Breast Feeding versus Bottle Fed debate!!

I also know I skew older in my parenting style, and my "peers" are not my own age or a few years younger, but are really more those that are in their 60's these days.  Being a little older mom does that to you, and it makes me lean in that direction...right or wrong.  I am trying hard, and so are you, we are just coming at it from different life experiences and ages.

I don't walk in your shoes, and you certainly don't walk in mine.  Funny, how quick we are in the age of the internet to speak out in ways we never would in person about how someone else decides to parent.  We are mean spirited, we are less willing to put ourselves in other's shoes before hitting our keyboards to spew venom

Gwyneth, I may find your comments a little lacking in understanding, but I have no doubt your life is a lot different than my own and that I am seriously clueless about the sorts of challenges you deal with each day.  I'll refrain from judging you, and I'll ask you nicely to consider that maybe your lack of experience walking in some of our shoes means you might want to try not to compare, either.  That being said, I sure don't think you meant anyone any harm with what you wrote.  You just wrote from your own experience...as we all do.

I refuse to be baited into being a soldier in the Mommy Wars.  There is an entire army already participating, they don't need one more soldier flinging harmful Word Grenades.


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