I was getting dressed for the day, drying my hair and mentally running through my checklist of what still needed to be done before we had to leave the house.
Big kids are ready.
Baby needs to be dressed, diapered and nursed.
Stroller is loaded.
Wait, maybe I should skip the stroller and use my Ergo, my favorite baby carrier. This was, after all, a La Leche League meeting. My first one, in fact. While I’ve recommended that many women attend these meetings, I’d never been, and I wanted to see what it was all about. LLL published my favorite book on nursing, The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, which I have read cover to cover, twice (7th & 8th editions). It’s good stuff. But more important than anything, I wanted to meet the ladies who run my local LLL, so that I can easily refer moms to them should they need any “real” help, beyond the scope of what I can do.
In fact, it was a La Leche League leader who coached me through my breastfeeding issues with my first baby. She was amazing. And even before I got help from her, it was another former LLL leader who encouraged me over the phone when her daughter called her up and said “Hey Mom, my friend Gabby is having some nursing issues!” Suffice it to say, I love these ladies. They are incredible women and I share their passion for breastfeeding.
Yet there’s one area where we differ. I’m not “all in” when it comes to Attachment Parenting. I’m not against it, but it’s just not me. Or at least a lot of it’s not. I’m a mixed bag when it comes to parenting techniques, but you’d probably be safe to describe me as more conventional in some areas.
LLL is very much in favor of attachment parenting, especially where it strengthens the breastfeeding relationship. And babywearing, not stroller pushing, is what AP folks prefer. It lines up so well with their philosophies.
But for me, while I do find babywearing to be a huge help in many circumstances, this was not one of them. My kids are 4, 2, and 9 months, and we would have to cross a busy parking lot. We have it down to a system. My oldest child holds on tightly to the stroller while I push the boys, who are safest in the stroller.
In my mind that morning, as I got ready for my meeting, I waged my very own mommy war.
I thought of the disapproving looks I might receive, the judgments that might be made. All because I pushed a stroller.
But I could not push the stroller. I could make it work. I could use the Ergo, which I keep in the van at all times, ready to go to the park, the grocery store, or many other places. And then, when I walked into that room full of moms with their babies, I would fit right in. I would instantly be recognized as a kindred spirit. It wasn’t that much of a stretch. I’ve been called a hippy mom on more than one occasion, whether it was because of cloth diapers or a baby sling, Moby wrap, or my beloved Ergo.
And as this mommy war waged inside my head, I recognized the foolishness of it, of changing my routine and my habits just to fit in. I would roll my eyes at a teenager for doing the same. Why is it any less foolish for a grown woman to do it?
I laughed at myself and told my husband about my temptation. He said it’s a shame I should have to worry about it. I said this is just how women are.
But ultimately, it’s a Gabby-problem, not a problem with these women, women that I didn’t even know yet.
I see the Mommy Wars waged so often that I’m ready for a fight, even before one has begun. And the biggest issue is that I struggle with wanting to please other people instead of focusing on what is best for us, the little family that God has entrusted to me.
I used the stroller that morning and made a decision to be me. Just as I thought, the other moms adhered to the AP style, and were a little surprised to hear that I don’t co-sleep. This mommy doesn’t sleep well with a baby in her bed! And I really don’t know if I got strange looks or judgment from the ladies. I was too busy corralling my children to notice. But I did notice how kind they were to my children, how the leader had packed toys, not for her kids, but for everyone else’s. I noticed how intentional they were about discussing the assigned topic but also meeting the needs of individual moms.
And I noticed how kind and encouraging they were to me, the lone newcomer.
Take that, Mommy Wars.