A few months ago my Facebook feed was erupting in cheers, tears, amens and smiley emoticons. What was all the excitement about?
Everyone was posting the same video and it must have been shared by 50 per cent of my friends list, along with a ton of the business pages I follow. As a doula and a mom, most of my Facebook feed consists of baby faces, birth and pregnancy related articles, aas well as mom statuses like "Dear Baby, please learn to sleep through the night. Love, your tired mother."
The video showed a busy urban park full of different types of moms and dads (it actually looked just like Westmount Park, where lots of these stereotypical moms might hang out), and what played out was at once ridiculous, over the top and, well, just marketing really.
After the feel-good ending wherein all the different parenting cliques come together as one, a tagline showed up on the screen: "Welcome to the Sisterhood of Motherhood." This was followed shortly after with the word "Similac."
My jaw dropped.
THIS IS WHAT EVERYONE IS SO HAPPY ABOUT?! I nearly fell off my chair. I immediately talked to all my lactation consultant colleagues about the message this video was sending and we all agreed to call this what it was -- shameless marketing by a formula company.
The ad intended to make us feel that we shouldn't judge each other on our different parenting styles -- homebirth moms, formula-feeding moms, breastfeeding moms, babywearers, working moms -- let's just pretend there's no difference. In fact, don't even mention the differences that exist. They don't matter, because at the end of the day we are all just part of the Sisterhood of Motherhood. Right?
Excuse me while I call bullshit. "Hello, Bullshit -- this is Megan Howarth. We need to talk."
See, all this ad did in about two minutes was supposedly show us that we are all a bunch of catty bitches and we just need to calm the hell down, stop the mommy wars and hug it out. Shh, Similac says. Hush mommies, it's all fine. Don't talk about your differences, instead celebrate that we are all here together.
On one hand, I want to jump up with everyone else and say -- YES! AMEN! EXACTLY!
But on the other hand, I know what they are doing. Similac doesn't want us to talk about our differences because when we do, it affects them. It affects their marketing and it affects their business.
If one mom is able to say to another mom, "Hey. I see you have a new baby. Are you breastfeeding? How is it going? I had such a hard time, but it got better and I'm here if you need advice." or that new mom could ask, "I notice you are breastfeeding your 18-month-old. Is breastfeeding a toddler hard? How do I know I'm making enough milk? What's the best breastfeeding advice out there?"
Imagine the conversations that could happen! Look at the mom to mom support there!
How about this scenario: One of the working moms might say, "Wow, it must be really hard staying at home all day with your kids. I find weekends really long and I love the interaction I get from other adults at work." and the other mom might respond, "It is totally hard, but worth it. I think working outside the home sounds so stressful I can't imagine getting everything done. Kudos to you."
These are real scenarios that happen every day. These are conversations that people in REAL LIFE are having face to face. I know because I see it. Formula, breastmilk, baby carriers, carseats, co-sleeping, pacifiers, cry-it-out, working moms, gay couples, stay at home moms AND dads -- all of these situations exist in the homes of close friends of mine.
Guess what?? I've yet to see a fight break out. Imagine that!
Instead, I see people connecting, I see people offering advice and helpful support. I see people having rough days getting a hug or meeting new friends to share a coffee at local family coffee shops in my city.
So, forget the mommy wars. Companies love to sell that because it means they can use it to pit us against each other and sell more products. Once we realize that mommy wars don't exist and that we are all actually just trying to do whatever works best for us we can focus on talking about our differences and opening ourselves up to what others are doing and have to say.
At the end of the day, we are all one. But we are all different, too. And that's okay.
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