So… I was wandering through the internets the other day, as I’m wont to do, and I came across a picture on my Facebook feed, which was in fact SO offensive that I immediately unfriended the person (an acquaintance) that had posted it. It was a picture making a statement about c-sections, and I won’t repeat any of it, or repost it, because it was just that totally and completely wrong. Even if it was a “hoax’ or made for attention, or any of the other excuses that were made for it, it was still wrong, in poor taste, and honestly, if it’s something my friends believe, I don’t want to be friends with them. And then of course I opened the comments.
I know, I know. I should have known better. I do this to myself all the time. I find a post, and even though I can guess with 99% certainty exactly what people will be saying, and that I won’t like half of it, I still have to look. Sure enough, there were some 72,000 comments starting with “I had to have a c-section because…” or “I didn’t want to have a c-section but…”. And it just made me SO MAD. Not, of course, because these women had c-sections, or because of any of their reasons, but because they truly felt like they had to defend their choice (or non-choice, which is so often the case when medical things are involved). Here is the statement I would rather see: “I had a c-section.” That’s it. No qualifiers before or after, no defending, no excusing, no explaining. Just a simple “This is what happened, the end.” If anything else is truly, really, absolutely, necessary, then why are you wasting your breath talking to this person?
And this happens all the time when it comes to EVERYTHING about parenting. And it sucks, and it’s totally wrong. Do you know when CEO’s of companies have to defend their actions? When they screw up. When the company is tanking. That’s when someone makes them stand up and explain why they did things the way they did. In fact, they’re often applauded for making decisions differently from other companies, as long as the results are as good or better. So why do we demand parents defend every decision they make? Especially since 99% of their decisions will have no direct effect on us.
And then let’s talk about the parenting ideal. The elusive, imaginary unicorn of perfect parenting that we all chase when we’re parenting other people’s children in our heads. We all start with our “forever always, musts” and our “I’ll never, ever dos”, and then we become real parents, to a real child, who may or may not match up to our preconceived notions. Then we do the best we can, with the things we have, and the information and experience we gain. So if you can’t tell with 100% certainty what you will and won’t do for your own child, how can you hold another mom up to your idea of how things should be?
So can we start by acting as if our decisions don’t need defending? As if perhaps we have a right to make choices about our families, our bodies, our marriages, our lives in general without permission from the population of Facebook? Practice here with me, I’ll start:
I give my baby a pacifier.
I’m not pushing my six-year-old to read (or tie his shoes).
I cosleep, and bed share when I need to.
I home school.
I make my kid play by himself (or find his own friend) at the park.
Be brave guys, parenting isn’t for wimps. State some of your decisions proudly in the comments, with NO qualifiers, whatsoever. You can do it, and nobody here is going to demand an explanation from you.