Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Women of the World, Man Up!

Over the weekend I had a parenting crisis.  No one physically hurt or anything,  but it was just one of those situations you run into with autism where you just can't figure out a way to help your child and you just have to sit there and take it.

Luckily the situation didn't last too long.  In the thick of it though I turned to Facebook and just like that, I had a bunch of friends throwing me love, support, encouragement.  And even though we didn't come up with the answer to the problem, things eventually calmed down, but it just felt so friggin' good to have people care.

This is what I love about social media.

I also got a few private messages from other friends today about it, inquiring if everything was okay and reassuring me that I am out there, trying to understand her and support her through whatever has or will come.  Those kinds of messages mean the world to me, not just because, like anyone, I like compliments, but parenting a special needs kid can sometimes be a very lonely business.  You see your friends kids, healthy, achieving, developing and growing in ways where with your own child all those things are at best, a big question mark, at your darkest times, they are the never-wills.

The Internet is literally ablaze with mommy bloggers and lately I have been reading a lot of blog posts about how we have to stop judging and we have to support other mother's and their choices.  You see these kinds of posts about special needs, about nutrition, about parenting philosophies, about problems, about everything.

Loads and loads of people are saying the same thing in a variety of different ways.  Stop judging another's choices.

What I see (and do) in practice though often falls short of that.  Sometimes it's the very same people who are writing beautiful pieces about supporting other women's choices and then later, lambasting others whose choices they don't agree with.

It would be easy to think social media is the culprit in this, but honestly it's not.  Social media may provide us the means to do this on a wide scale, but it is not the culprit.

It's us, it's women.  It's because we're largely insecure and we question our choices too much and don't feel they are validated unless others agree with us too.

Motherhood (and just about everything else) on social media has just largely become one large Homecoming Queen Campaign.

Our individual circumstances and backgrounds may vary but by and large, we are women, we may care about different things but we all long for acceptance and while we may try to play it cool, or needy or snarky or whatever the individual's particular game is, we fear not getting it.  Whole hosts of people are trying for this acceptance through blogging and social media  through exalting themselves with fruity posts meant to make them seem like whatever-it-is-they-want-to-seem.

But none of us, including myself are above a little hypocrisy and mean-girling.  You get loads of support if you are doing what others agree with, but skewered if you don't.  Why aren't we secure enough as women and mothers to validate our own choices, rather than needing others to validate them?  Why aren't we confident enough to understand that when someone doesn't agree with us, it doesn't mean that our choices are wrong, it actually doesn't mean jack sh*t.

We form opinions based on our own particular set of circumstances, whatever they are, why can we not just take for granted that someone else's other choice might be based on a different set of circumstances?  Why do we need 50 likes to feel good about our choices?  Why can't we read a mother's different choice and see her maybe 500 likes and not feel defensive about our choice?

It's not other mothers we need to be kinder and more understanding toward, it's ourselves.

We need to forgive ourselves for our mistakes, and we need , we need to make choices guided by what is best for our own circumstances and understand that is the basis of what is the right choice, rather than the opinion of voices from outside who may be influenced by a gazillion things and most of all,  if someone makes a different choice than us, there is no need to defend ourselves.

Parenting is the hardest and the best job in the world.  Nothing else in life gives you the breadth and depth of feeling,  both the joys and the sorrows.  Some days are fabulous and some days suck out loud.  We all make great choices and we all make mistakes, hopefully we learn and grow a little on the way.  We like to think we are all so unique, but we really aren't.

The game is not about others,  if we truly want to be supportive of other mothers we must first ease up on ourselves.

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