Coexist.

Mommies Coexist 2012

I watched as a young mom was pummeled for her choices.  A steady stream of other mothers came by the blog on which she had posted her story to inform her of how horrifyingly awful she was.  How heartbroken they were for her child.  How selfish and unloving she was.  How wrong she was going about this whole mothering business.

It quickly became obvious from the round-robin punches they were throwing that not only did they find it necessary to attack this woman repeatedly, but they had recruited their like-minded friends to join in on the brutal assault.

If you could read just the tone of the dozens of comments, you would think that the mother in question was on the road to becoming the next Casey Anthony.

But she wasn’t being negligent.

She wasn’t being abusive.

She wasn’t mistreating her child.

She was simply and vulnerably sharing her story about making a decision that countless mothers have to make every single day – she was explaining why she had chosen to quit breastfeeding.

Sadly, this form of mother-on-mother attack isn’t an isolated occurrence.  I have seen this happen time and time again, both on the internet with venomous persistence and in real life with sugary coated condescension.  Whether it’s about breastfeeding or schooling choices or vaccinations or medicated birthing or any other one of the myriad of decisions that we have to make as mothers, our culture has bred an environment of judgment and derision.

But as easy as it is to spot these overt and nasty attacks, I must face the fact that I myself am just as guilty.

Maybe I keep it inside, judging other mothers for not doing what I would do in a particular situation.  Or worse, maybe I talk to my husband or closest of friends about it.

I am those women.

James 24

I may not often force my opinions on others, but that doesn’t exonerate me.  And I’m horrified and devastated when I think of the times that my “help” could have come across as judgment.

Motherhood is the most rewarding job in the world, but it’s also the hardest.  It’s excruciating, exhausting, back-breaking labor that takes every ounce of strength that we have – mental, physical, and emotional.  And it doesn’t care that we have at least a dozen other priorities that also need some of bit of our vaporous energy – motherhood wants it all.

And it’s impossibly hard to figure out at times.  It’s like that recurring dream where you’re taking your final exam and realize that you haven’t been to a single class or opened your textbook all semester. As you stare at the test, you realize that you have no idea what a single right answer could even possibly be.

And then there’s Mommy Guilt.  It seems that no matter how many Awesome Mommy Points we earn in a given day, the one moment that we completely fail in will haunt us indefinitely and steal our hard-fought victories.

When you compound these things by other mother’s judgments, or even the fear of other’s judgments, it’s a miracle that any of us make it out of this job with any shred of sanity or self-confidence left.

But the irony is, even though we’re all scared out of our wits when it comes to our own choices and actions, we think we’ve got everyone else’s issues completely figured out.

My husband has learned well what I want from him when discussing a problem or issue.  “I don’t need you to problem solve right now.  I just need you to listen.”   This should apply to mother-to-mother communication as well.  Sure, sometimes we actually want advice.  But what we all need more of is to feel true camaraderie and support from other mothers, the only other people who can really understand the myriad of choices that we’re forced to make every day.

We need to remember that the path of motherhood is a fingerprint – no two are ever going to look the same.  Every groove making up each print has it’s own unique twists and turns – children’s personalities, financial situation, living situation, needs of everyone in the family, the past…it’s completely erroneous to assume that what works for me will automatically and with certainty work for you.

Proverbs 226

Does this mean we can’t have a sense of humor with each other?  Most certainly not.  Over-compensating can lead to walking on eggshells, and walking on eggshells leads to shallow, insincere relationships. We need to be sincere and we need to be lighthearted, but the underpinnings always need to be support.

Here is the pledge that I am taking – I will try my hardest to do these things whenever I am talking to another mother:

1. Listen – Really listen.  Hear what they’re saying and what they’re not saying.  I won’t interrupt to talk over them.  I will just listen.
2. Encourage – I will share with other mothers where I see them excelling, compliment their amazing strengths, and encourage them in their paths.
3. Discern – I will only offer advice if someone directly asks for it.  Otherwise, I will go back to steps one and two.
4. Accept – I will appreciate the fact that other people’s lives and choices won’t – and shouldn’t – look just like mine.  Choices are out there for a reason – we need them.

Please join me on a quest to support, a quest to love, a quest to…

Mommies Coexist 2012

Leave your comment below!

Comments

  1. 1
    Michelle says:

    Rachel this is awesome!!!!! May I link??

  2. 2
    Stacey says:

    Thank you for this reminder !

  3. 3
    Nikki says:

    I love it! Thank you for posting this, Rachel. Excellent words for all of us! Thank you, friend.

  4. 4
    Tarin says:

    Posting this as an “assignment” to my Mom’s group! What an awesome blog entry! Thank you. <3

  5. 5
    Amy says:

    Thanks Rachel. I love this. Every word of it is so true. I had a coworker chastise me for not breastfeeding when I had to quit and insisted that I was producing enough milk, despite the fact that the doctor and I both knew otherwise. I may not agree with the parenting descisions that others make, unless the child could potentially be harmed, I keep my mouth shut.

    • 5.1
      Rachel says:

      Coming from a Mom who had milk supply issues both times no matter what I tried to increase it (until my little order from Vanuatu, anyway), I completely understand. People who haven’t had milk supply problems buy into the “you’ll make as much as you need” – but it’s not always true. I’m sorry you went through that!

  6. 6
    Gina says:

    Excellent post!

  7. 7
    Kristi says:

    I really appreciate the post. Speaking as someone who was judged for not breastfeeding by a peer in my Sunday School class I can tell you it was very hurtful. My third child had a medical issue and my fellow mommy peer dressed me down for not breastfeeding and told me that if I had only breastfed my child would not have a problem (BTW, not true according to my doctor.) She implied that I should not be asking for prayer because it was my own fault.

    I heard Chuck Colson give a great sermon on judging that I have tried to apply recently. In order for a judge to be good at their job they need to be presented with all the facts otherwise they are just ruling based on their own preferences. Because we cannot possibly know anothers thoughts, reasonings, etc… all the time, God is the only one capable of passing a fair judgment on others.

  8. 8
    Syl says:

    YES! Thank you. :)

  9. 9
    Lisa says:

    Love this, especially the mommy-based coexist graphic.

  10. 10
    debi Blaising says:

    Thanks for getting on my soapbox with me, Rachel! This is the “message” I try to convey to young mothers. Basically, there is no easy way to raise/school/feed your children. There is a big difference in using biblical principles for parenting and using self righteous, “we’ve chosen the higher path” principles. If you feel the Lord has led you to breastfeed, have a natural birth, and home school your children, follow Him. But don’t look down on your friend who had a c-section, bottle feed her baby, and sent her to preschool. I can’t imagine Jesus blasting someone for not breastfeeding. I am the home school mom of four children (one with significant special needs), who had four epidurals, breast fed all four, sent them to preschool and vaccinated them. I think James 2 is a great place to go in regard to this issue. We are basically putting moms in “classes” and showing partiality. As Christians, we should excel in this area, and I fear we are failing. Galatians 5:13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another. Thanks again, Rachel, for bringing a delicate subject to light.

  11. 11

    GREAT thoughts. I love the graphic… perfect!

  12. 12
    Gina says:

    Excellent post, handled in a great way! I’m sharing this with my MOPS group!

  13. 13
    Lisa~ says:

    Great post! I have strong opinions too, but to push them on someone else when they are just my experiences, study and opinion is unnecessary. It’s sad when I see a mother being accused of abuse just because she makes a different choice. It is OK to let others know if they are doing something wrong, but let’s be sure the wrong is from the Bible and not our own standards. Thanks for this! Lisa~

    • 13.1
      Eleanorjane says:

      I’d say be veeeeery, veeeeeery careful with your ‘wrong’ from the Bible. Just because some respected teachers are currently saying ‘These are all the details of how the Bible says you must rear your children” doesn’t mean that equally Godly men and women don’t think differently now, didn’t think differently 50 years ago and won’t think differently 50 years in the future.

      Might be best to preface your words with something like ‘I believe…’ or ‘My reading of the Bible suggests…’

      I’m pretty sure Jesus is more into loving (in the 1 Cor. 13 sense) our neighbour than correcting them. (Irony alert – here I am making suggestions to you!) :)

    • 13.2
      Rachel says:

      True – no matter what our experiences, study, and opinions, someone else has the same — with the opposite outcome!

  14. 14
    Lori T says:

    I’m loving that graphic (I think I will “pin” it). Perfect! And the post was touching. While I don’t tell moms that I disagree with their choices, I do look look down on them sometimes . And I tell my husband. So hard. Thanks for your post Rachel.

    • 14.1
      Rachel says:

      Thank you for your support! Yes, it is hard – really hard. I want so badly to never be judgmental, but it’s a daily struggle. Here’s to doing better!

  15. 15
    Jessica says:

    I love this. I think that we also need to stop being so hard on *ourselves* as mothers. Maybe that’s part of it. We feel bad about some decision that we, ourselves, made and need to feel like someone else is doing it worse. Maybe if we could stop judging others, we could stop being so harsh with ourselves too. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?

  16. 16
    Dawn says:

    I’ll take that pledge too, Well said. It doesn’t help anyone when we judge each other so harshly.

  17. 17
    Laura Wilder says:

    Great post! As a new mom of only 3 weeks I was very blindsided when another parent “kindly” criticized a choice they thought I had made simply because of a picture I posted on Facebook. These are great words for me to read as a new mom & to remember. Thanks for an early lesson in mommyhood! & I LOVE the graphic! It’s awesome!

  18. 18
    Shiree says:

    LOVE THIS! And I love the banner! Think you could make that into a button for mommies to use on their blogs? Or maybe you can have it made into a bumper sticker so we can put it our our mommy-vans next to our “my kid’s smarter than your kid” sticker. :)

  19. 19
    Marie says:

    AMEN! Thank you for your bravery to speak this truth and challenge us to not judge. It is hard not to judge one another I think because we constantly judge ourselves and I don’t think God intended us to live to anyone’s standards but his and well we’ve all come up short.

  20. 20
    Cheri says:

    Your tagged

  21. 21
    Alice says:

    I love this! Your blog and spending time with you continously reminds me why we are friends!

  22. 22
    Shelly says:

    Thanks, Rachel. Awesome post!

  23. 23
    erin says:

    Great post! Thank you for sharing — your words will be echoing in my head the next time I’m about to say something when I should be listening and encouraging instead! :)

  24. 24
    Eleanorjane says:

    Awesome post! Something I need to work on.

    Thinking about it, I think I judge because I care about the kids and want what I consider to be the best for them. But I do need to keep reminding myself that there *isn’t* one best way and that the spectrum of best ways is much broader than I think!

    I heard the term ‘Good enough parent’ somewhere and imported it into my teaching. Similarly to parenting, teachers could always do more, be better etc. so I aimed to be a ‘good enough’ teacher, not a perfect one. When (if) my time comes I’ll aim to be a ‘good enough’ parent, and try to remember that perfection in parenting is impossible!

  25. 25
    Julie says:

    So well said, and I love the graphic. I know I sometimes go overboard on advice, thinking that I would have wanted to know the information earlier and therefore so must this mom, but the wiser choice is to wait for someone to ask. Something to strive for…

    • 25.1
      Rachel says:

      Me too — I know I’ve given unsolicited advice way too often, thinking that I’m being super-helpful. (sigh) …when really, I’m the one who needs to learn wisdom!!

  26. 26
    Jennifer says:

    Thanks, Rachel. So many things that aren’t “life or death” matters get judged extremely harshly by people, often under of the guise of just being “caring”. Thanks for the reminder. :)

  27. 27
    McKt says:

    It is a distraction and a work of the flesh to make us so passionate about worldly things that in light of eternity do not matter. Ultimately, I care if my kids know Jesus. I care if your kids know Jesus, and how they are birthed, fed, educated, and sleep are preferences and an easy way to get bogged down in stuff that isn’t eternal. Thanks for having the clarity of thought to put this together. It is a really great piece.

  28. 28
    Darla says:

    Thank you.

  29. 29
    Kerri Bailey says:

    Rachel, I wish your blog had been around when my kids were young! Beautiful post! You young moms need each other! Lift each other up with your words and prayers as you do the most important job on the planet. Blessings!

    • 29.1
      Rachel says:

      Thank you, Kerri!! I don’t often feel that my blog offers any intrinsic value other than mindless entertainment, so it’s nice to know it might be helpful every now and then!

      • Amie says:

        Never underestimate the “intrinsic value of mindless entertainment”, Rachel! :) Your stories give us all a think a very real snapshot into at least parts of your life. And that’s as much of a help to me as almost anything can be. I think another thing we as moms do to each other is sugar coat everything. I don’t want to be a Debbie Downer, but sometimes motherhood is not glamorous or even really very much fun–and those are the parts we tend not to talk about with other mothers.

        I really appreciate this post and I’ll be sharing it with my friends. I try so hard to be mindful of this and not judge or criticize or give unwanted advice, but my husband sure gets an earful of my opinions sometimes. :/

        • Rachel says:

          Aw, thanks!! I appreciate the encouragement. Sometimes I get down on myself for not writing more of the meaningful stuff and less of the fluff. Nice to know that fluff can have value as well!

  30. 30
    Christen says:

    I think my biggest struggle is my silent judgements, which can be just as destructive to myself and the one(s) I’m judging as words spoken in judgement. Those thoughts make me think of myself as a better mother than the other person, which is totally untrue. I really need to work on the accepting part of the pledge, thanks for the encouragement and challenge!

  31. 31
    Marty says:

    This is important and you did an excellent job writing it. I sincerely hope it goes viral.

    • 31.1
      Rachel says:

      Thank you, Marty!! I’m sure that your breastfeeding post from a couple of years ago had some subconscious influence on me! I will never forget that amazing post. Thank you!

  32. 32
    Lindsey says:

    Well said, and well illustrated!

  33. 33
    Elly says:

    What a lovely post. Thank you.

  34. 34
    Miss Elisabeth says:

    Words cannot describe how much I LOVE this post! This will be shared with many and hopefully more and more people will jump on board. I think lots of us think this way, but for some odd reason we get caught up competing with each other rather than supporting each other more than we should. THANK YOU, THANK YOU!

    • 34.1
      Miss Elisabeth says:

      PS- I am terribly guilty of doing exactly what you say. *hanging head in shame* I try hard not to but sometimes it happens. I am getting better, even without a 12-step program.

    • 34.2
      Rachel says:

      Thank you for sharing!! And yes, I don’t know why we do it, but we do, and we need to quit.

  35. 35
    NotAGirlyMom says:

    Applause applause applause.

  36. 36
    Eva says:

    thank you for this post. i am often guilting of trying to “help” with my quick opinions or advice. i’m not naturally sensitive so this was good to read, especially since i just came from mops today where i always hear lots of different issues.

    • 36.1
      Rachel says:

      Thanks! I am also guilty of that – I totally understand.

      • Eva says:

        and i was so convicted by this post and TWO other things i read today (coincidence? pry not) that i facebooked the mops woman that i offered advice to today and apologized. she said she wasn’t hurt but i think i’ve learned something and might actually (hopefully) remember the next time this kind of thing comes up.

  37. 37
    Rachel says:

    Great post! Why is it that we do this as mothers? It seems like all my stay-at-home mom friends feel guilty for not “participating” in society by working and all my working mom friends feel guilty for not staying home. Way too much mommy guilt going around! Thanks for the reminder to support each other and not tear each other down. We all need to work on that!

  38. 38

    Amen, Sista’! ;]

  39. 39
    Laura Gallitz says:

    Ditto what they said! I love, love the graphic. And I pledge to try to work on it all, too. When I took a prenatal class and they told us that the choice to breastfeed was like choosing between Coke and Sprite, I balked. I knew I was going to do it, and couldn’t understand why people didn’t. But then, from day 1 I had to supplement. I felt so guilty. But with more experience I learned there were millions of choices, every day, and it seems none of them is black and white. We have so much to learn from one another – we can’t let judging each other get in our way.

    • 39.1
      Rachel says:

      Yes – I want the world to be black and white so badly, but it’s just not ever going to be, so it’s best that we accept it and move on!

  40. 40
    Natalie says:

    YES! AMEN!
    (sorry to shout, but it’s important)

  41. 41

    I can definitely be guilty of having (and expressing, even if only to my husband) my (sometimes strong) judgments of other mothers’ behaviors.

    This is a great reminder! I definitely believe in black and white, right and wrong, but there are many choices which are, just that–choices. And if they aren’t immoral, why do I care anyway? After all, even if I am right, and it’s not the *best* choice…who has to deal with the consequences?

    Not I.

    ANYhoo, well-written as always, and that illustration is pretty stinkin’ awesome!

  42. 42

    Oh, and “oddly normal?” Why do I feel offended all of a sudden. ; )

  43. 43
    Bekah says:

    Thanks for this, Rachel! I have a feeling it is a post I need to bookmark so I can revisit on a regular basis as a reminder.

  44. 44
    QueSera says:

    Wonderful post. I haven’t seen this sort of attack before (I guess I don’t read many strictly Mommy blogs, but it sounds vicious). I hope your message goes far!

  45. 45
    Kimberly says:

    Perfect post for me today!

    Earlier today I was typing my Facebook status which was going to read, “Maybe I’m sensitive, but if you’re opinionated and you’re not on a radio program I want to listen to, and you don’t like something about me or about what I’ve done, please don’t say anything at all. It’ll save me a great deal of agony. Thanks!”

    This was after I was talking to a mom whose son is in a lit class I teach. While discussing the class she said, “I don’t know why SHE chose that book! I HATED that book! It’s the WORST book ever!” I was stunned. Had she forgotten I taught the class?

    I then said, “She? I picked the book.” I then had to listen to her repeatedly tell me how much she, and her son, hated the book.

    I didn’t post the fb comment. And I’m trying to let her negative comments go. Had her son attended all the classes, he would have found the book wrapped up well and we finished the study with a dinner and a movie. He didn’t attend, so he missed out on the fun wrap up.

    Anyway, all that to say…like my momma said, “If you don’t have anything nice to say…”

    We really don’t need to hear it.

  46. 46
    Stephanie says:

    I love this! Wonderfully said, thank you so much.
    Stephanie

  47. 47
    Ashley says:

    That graphic needs to be on billboards all across the world. Handed out at public arenas. Hospitals. Parks. Nursing Homes. Grocery Stores. Michaels (am I right?! ha!). Pretty much anywhere it could reach a living-breathing human being. Thank you for being an advocate for ALL mothers.

  48. 48
    kate says:

    What a fabulous, and very necessary reminder! Thanks so much for taking the time to verabilize these thoughts in such an incredibly beautiful, and honest way!

    I especially loved this part: “We need to remember that the path of motherhood is a fingerprint – no two are ever going to look the same. Every groove making up each print has it’s own unique twists and turns – children’s personalities, financial situation, living situation, needs of everyone in the family, the past…it’s completely erroneous to assume that what works for me will automatically and with certainty work for you.”

    I promise to share this with all of the mothers I know!

  49. 49
    Liz says:

    Could you upload that graphic to Zazzle or Cafepress to make a bumper sticker? I’m sure you’d sell a lot of them.

  50. 50
    Lika says:

    I’d like to add that some women choose NOT to be mothers, for their own personal reasons. Don’t beat them up, either. You have no idea what their story is.

  51. 51
    Chaos Mommy says:

    I can’t seriously thank you enough for this!!! I get unwelcome advice SO often that I can’t handle it anymore. I want listeners! I have THREE people I go to for advice, everyone else can either listen, or stop talking to me! haha!

    Also, great point about how we’re all somewhat guilty of being one of “those” moms. Even if I don’t openly bash someone on their blog or in person, I do maybe gossip about them with my friends. So I’m no better than the moms I complain about.

    • 51.1
      Rachel says:

      Thank you so much! Yes, it’s definitely something that we all can work on – I seriously doubt that anyone is guilt-free in this area!

  52. 52
    Angie says:

    Right on, Sister! More building up, less breaking each other down.

  53. 53
    Katie says:

    Great post! Like everybody else said, I hope the message gets spread around so we can all be kinder to each other. I do my best not to say it outloud but then my husband hears about it later. I try to make myself feel better about judging by saying I’m comparing and wanting to learn how not to repeat their mistakes but that’s just a fancy label to make me feel better, not actually changing the action =(

  54. 54
    carl carter says:

    I won’t question mommy being the hardest job in the world, but have you ever tried being MARRIED to a mommy? Fortunately, that has its own rewards too.

  55. 55
    Chris says:

    Thanks for a beautifully written reminder. I couldn’t believe the judgement that came my way once I had my first child, especially from other mothers. Over everything from breastfeeding to what kind of baby carrier I used. One of my good friends shared with me shortly before I had my first baby the best advice she had recieved when she became a mom, and that was to do whatever works for you & your baby, and don’t worry about what everyone else has to say about it. That was the one piece of advice that has stuck with me through three pregnancies and births.

  56. 56
    Amy says:

    So well done. I had a breast reduction at age 24. I had my first son at 28. I couldn’t breastfeed. It was heartbreaking. I cannot tell you the tears. And the diry looks I’d get occationally as I fed my children or bought formula… brought it all back. Made me feel dirty and “less than.” But there are adoptive mothers. Mothers on medication. Breast reduction mothers. Sexually assaulted mothers. Mothers who are harrassed for breastfeeding. We never ever know. And these kids grow up to be “normal.” It’s none of our business.

    I support FEEDING mothers.

    I support MOTHERS.

    All of these differences in parenting style are just that… style. And it makes us all unique. I’m a firm believer in disagreement. When managed properly, different ideas create the BEST solutions. And in order to do THAT, we must all have different perspectives… different backgrounds. It’s okay to be passionate about “your way” of doing things, as long as we don’t cross the “judgement” line.

    Thank you for this post. Very well done. The graphic is ART. Amazing.

    • 56.1
      Rachel says:

      Beautiful comment! And so true. I’m so sorry you went through that!! I know so many friends that feel the same way you did, and it’s heartbreaking!! I hope that one day, mothers that can’t breastfeed will feel NO such guilt.

  57. 57

    What a wonderful post Rachel… and a clever illustration.

    I so strongly believe in listening to people and not judging.

    Perhaps because I feel like such an inadequate mother by comparison to others that I don’t too often find myself judging and feeling superior. I’m usually judging those for judging. LOL. So even then I am guilty of judging.

    But seriously I am constantly begging mothers to support each other. Why oh why do we need to make this difficult job even harder?

    Thank you Rachel.

  58. 58
  59. 59
    Shawn says:

    Great idea! I’ve done it all and been all those women as well. Nothing made it easier. It’s all hard — and worth it.

  60. 60

    Wonderful post and an important message! I see this all the time at school and the PTA. There are those that at like they’re still in high school, with their “cool kids” cliques. I hate it! I hope you’re message gets to the people who need to read it the most. Well done!

    I’d love to link to this!

  61. 61
    Mommie Daze says:

    So true. Why can’t we have different methods and opinions and still get along?

  62. 62
    rachel says:

    I love everything about this post and more importantly that graphic. I choose to BF, vaccinate, circumcise, but would NEVER judge another for bottle feeding, etc. It seems that *I* am the one criticized most for my decisions!! I’ve come to realize that those that judge the harshest are most insecure with their choices. We are ALL moms just doing the best we can. Did you create the graphic? I would love to somehow order a print of it??

    • 62.1
      Rachel says:

      Thank you!! Yes, I created the graphic and had a friend draw it for me (because my drawing skills are atrocious!!). I do plan on getting T-Shirts or something made eventually. If I do, I’ll let you know!!

  63. 63

    Make it a button so we can add it to our sidebars!! Let me know when you do!

  64. 64
    Cindy says:

    I completely agree. I don’t comprehend the tendency for us to compare, especially women. It seems as if there is constant judgment of ones weaknesses to another’s strength. Of course no one is evecity successful if this is how thw world judges. Love the graphic.

    My sister in law blogs about this all of the time at http://ourmostofthetimehappyfamily.blogspot.com and at The Power of Moms website.

  65. 65
    Danielle says:

    Rachel,
    Thank you for the spirit in which your piece was written. I agree wholeheartedly on your ideas of listening, encouragement, discernment, and acceptance. I, for one, am a passionate attachment parent and have very strong personal convictions in my parenting. That being said, discussions and storysharing with respectful attitudes are important.
    The one area, I disagree with is in your graphic- the scalples/knives of the circumcision “choice”. I can not support “forced cutting of a child’s genitals” as a parental choice. Our little girls are protected under law. Why are our little boys not afforded the same protection? Our baby boys need to protected from a risky, painful and unnecessary cosmetic surgery that has become so common place that we don’t even know about the function of the foreskin. Anyways, I digress.
    I’m just saying, that in the spirit of coexist, I think we should do our best to avoid intentionally hurting people any size.
    I am sure I’m going to get flamed for this post and I accept that. I am sure, the “don’t make me feel guilty” card will be played as well.

    • 65.1
      Rachel says:

      Danielle,

      Thank you for your comment!

      Just as the “I” in the graphic represents respecting of both the vaccination or anti-vax choice, the “x” represents respecting both the circumcision and anti-circumcision choice. Therefore, I absolutely respect your decision on that choice, just as much as I respect other family’s choices to circumcise. I have heard convincing, logical arguments on both sides, including from medical professionals on both sides, which makes me respect that this is a valid issue of choice, just like all of the other parenting choices portrayed. In that vein, I do stick by my original urge to Coexist and allow parents to make the decision that they feel is best, including on the matter of circumcision.

      Thanks again for commenting! Have a great weekend!

      • Natalie says:

        I agree with Danielle, completely. One of these things is not like the others. My husband grieves the loss if his foreskin, the fact that something that intimate was forcibly removed from his body without his consent, forever changing the way he appears, feels, experiences intercourse, and makes sex more painful for me. That choice should have been his alone to make. His body, his penis, his foreskin, his sexuality. Tens if thousands of nerve endings gone. Keratosis of what should have been the most inner, sensitive part of his sexual organs, which are now on the outside instead. He calls it his mutilation. And there are scores of other men who feel the same way. No man is going to feel violated for co-sleeping or not, for bottle feeding or not, etc., but some men do feel – because they are – violated in the worst way when they realize what was taken from them through no choice of their own. Do we really mean it when we say our sons are “just perfect?” Them leave them be. God (or nature, as you like) gave them a foreskin for a reason.

  66. 66
    Anita says:

    This is brilliant! Why are we so vicious about women who make different child rearing choices?

    If all us women would pull together to care lovingly for all the children what a wonderful world we would have. Children need love, lots of unconditional (note that I do not say undisciplined or rule free!) love from the adults in their lives. Whether this love comes with breast milk or an all vegetarian diet or home schooling in a single parent home or in a working mother home or with two gay parents or whatever is current the fashion in child rearing matters a whole lot less than that there be adults in their lives who love them.

    Could we not see the working mommies, the home schooling mommies, the crunchy mommies and all the other mommies pull together to support all the mommies and their children. All the children are our future not just the ones borne of our loins and we need to make sure all of us are caring for them and about them.

    this from one who chose not to have kids! So, of course I know all about what all of you should be doing. As Rachel says, CoExist in peace and harmony!

    meanwhile if this is a topic you are thinking about I cannot recommend too highly the book “Bad Mommy” by Ayelet Waldman and the book her husband Michael Chabon published about the same time, “Manhood for Amateurs”. Both address with humor and realism the complex issues of how our society views parenting in these times. Laugh out loud and cry at the same time.

    Go hug your daughters and tell them how strong and gorgeous they are. Lets help this new generation break the chain of women being vicious to other women.

  67. 67

    This is fantastic! I launched the Take the Pledge Campaign in March 2o11. The Mom Pledge has the same basic premise as your Coexist Pledge. I am going to go share your quest with our community! I hope you will consider joining us:

    http://themompledge.com

  68. 68

    Thankyou so much for writing this. I have been bought to tears before watching other mothers being attacked for their mothering choices. It was one of the reasons I started Bottle Babies – a supportive community for bottle feeding parents and those who support them. We do not tolerate any judgment on any parenting topic – we only encourage and support genuine encouragement, understanding and acceptance, and our members appreciate the safe place to receive this.

    Again, thankyou for your words and I will be sharing this blog piece on Bottle Babies.
    http://www.facebook.com/bottlebabies

  69. 69
    Virginia says:

    What a great post!! I just came across this after checking out your Gap and ON Gateway Mom jeans post. Both are brilliant :-) I hate to admit that I was also one of those that could be a tad judgemental and offering what I thought was “helpful” advice. Until I had my second child fourteen years after my first. He really opened up my eyes to how different kids can be and how what works for one doesn’t necessarily work for the other. I do quite a few things with him I swore I would never do (cosleeping!!!). It just reminds me all the time how we are all unique individuals and different in so many ways. We recognize and appreciate these differences in adults way more than we do children. Sorry for such a long reply, but I feel compelled to share a favorite quote:

    Your children are not your children.
    They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
    They come through you but not from you,
    And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

    You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
    For they have their own thoughts.
    You may house their bodies but not their souls,
    For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
    which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
    You may strive to be like them,
    but seek not to make them like you.
    For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday

    You are the bows from which your children
    as living arrows are sent forth.
    The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
    and He bends you with His might
    that His arrows may go swift and far.
    Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
    For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
    so He loves also the bow that is stable.
    -Kahlil Gibran

    Sometimes this is tough for us to remember. Our children are their own people and their needs are so different..that means what one mother does differently from you is really none of your business, unless the child is being seriously harmed.

    Thanks again for such a needed post!!!

  70. 70
    Laura says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more! I can relate to this in so many ways. Thank you for your thoughts.

    Although I spend almost all of my time trying to be a good and improving mother, I have been criticized more than once for not having enough breastmilk, for circumcising my boys, for not making my babies cry it out, and for putting my children in time-out occasionally. (And my children aren’t even school age yet. Yikes!) As if motherhood isn’t hard enough! Let’s all just give each other a break, yeah? Yay for you! Oh, and I love that graphic.

  71. 71
    Erin L says:

    This is awesome. I know it is old, but seriously, I needed a reminder.

  72. 72
    Julie says:

    I recently had a run-in at a Hospital. It wasn’t with another mom but it was with a doctor who was very harsh and condemning. It really got me thinking on this exact issue. How we judge others and treat them because they make a choice different than what we do.

    I really love this post and I think you hit the nail on the head. I linked to it in one of the comments on my post. I have lots of “crunchy” mom friends who would be so encouraged by this!. Thank you!!

  73. 73
    Hannah VW says:

    The vast majority of circumcisions in the US are performed for cultural or parental preference reasons. No medical organization in the world recommends this procedure. Other nations do not routinely do it.
    To remove a healthy body part for non-medical reasons is not within the realm of parental choices.
    Many people have been misled by medical professionals who do not have current information into thinking circumcision prevents infection or disease. These people should not be judged or treated badly for something that is in the past, but we can do better to inform expecting parents and future parents about this.

  74. 74
    Danielle Netherton says:

    How on Earth is strapping your newborn to a board and cutting his genitals with a knife fall under the category of co-existing? Talk about a strange graphic with a strange message…. O_o

  75. 75
    mare54 says:

    I just can’t see how “scalpels” fit into the co exist mantra…….cutting off a normal part of an infants body is not co existing. wow.

  76. 76
    DVaz994 says:

    The problem with including genital mutilation in this graphic is that it perpetuates the false notion that there’s nothing at all wrong with amputating part of someone’s healthy body by force. But there’s everything wrong with the practice, as not only does it violate medical ethics but it’s also a blatant human rights violation.

  77. 77
    Rachel says:

    This post is not at all about whether circumcision is right or wrong. Quite the opposite – it’s about people who think their opinion is the only valid one and push it mercilessly onto other people, and how no one should do that to their friends, much less to perfect strangers.

  78. 78
    lauree says:

    now that my kids are excellent adults i have realized that mom’s need to be encouraged often. they need to be told they are doing a good job. it is hard to be a mom and you always feel like you are messing up.

    to young moms… trust yourself. your kids will be okay if you are building a relationship with them, listening to them, laughing with them and admitting you don’t know everything and that sometimes you screw up.

  79. 79
    Robert says:

    You’ve really hit a nerve here, Rachel. Passions, insecurities, and parental shame are all showing up in the comments. (I broke the internet rule and read the comments…) As difficult as it is to disagree without personal judgement, and God knows I’ve failed at that a time or twenty, it is incredibly important. Many decisions that a parent makes don’t afford the luxury of a do-over. It’s done and regardless of the (lack of) consequences, you pick up and move along.

    As a homeschool/homebirth/non-vax/pro-krispykreme kinda guy, I’ve had my share of being the weirdo in the circle a few times. Fortunately with a little kindness, patience and some humor most of the circles remain unbroken. And that, to me, is the important thing.

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