Shauna Stewart Douglas runs a website called Moms Uniting Moms, dedicated to moms supporting each other.
Basically, she's all in favor of the exact opposite of the Mommy Wars. The website states what they're about in no uncertain terms:
“Sometimes we share tough information and views we might not [all] agree with, but our discussions are free of shaming - no mud slinging here!"
To further their goal of ending judgment about different styles of parenting, some of the women who are part of Moms Uniting Moms got together for a photo shoot.
They showcased some of the many things moms are scrutinized for ... and for which we sometimes scrutinize each other.
The point isn't that we all need to agree on how to raise our kids. That's just silly. The point is that we can have constructive (and helpful!) conversations without tearing each other down.
These photos represent our ability to live our lives differently but without judgment.
The problem is that for moms, it seems that nothing is off-limits:
1. Where and how we work.
2. The struggles we have (or don't have) that are beyond our control.
3. Whether we became moms unintentionally — or with much effort.
4. What kind of moms we are.
6. When we became moms.
7. How we became moms.
8. How we name our kids.
9. How we feed our kids.
10. Where we feed our kids.
11. The ways we get our kids to sleep.
12. Where our kids sleep.
13. Who takes care of us while we're pregnant.
14. And how our kids come into the world.
15. Little things — like what we use (or don't use) to comfort our babies.
16. Even the choices we make for diapers.
17. And the way we transport our babies.
18. But here's the bottom line: If we're doing our best to care for our kids, we're good moms.
19. We're great moms!
20. Because when we're trying, growing, and learning when it comes to parenting, we're doing what we need to do.
21. So we should support each other while we're doing it.
Douglas told me in a phone interview that the point isn't just to positively affect the way moms regard each other; it's to help us raise a generation of amazing humans:
"When women and moms are educated, they teach their children. When we get access to any kind of info, we transfer it to our kids. Moms are such a pinnacle, such a force. I really feel like as we create more discussion, understanding, learning around how to have a constructive conversation … it's going to have a huge ripple effect."
Douglas also noted that we're never going to agree on everything, nor should we strive for that:
"I don't want to be surrounded by a bunch of yes people. There's absolutely no way I'm going to be right all of the time. The only way we're going to get to a better knowledge or understanding is if I bring what I know to the conversation and you bring what you know to the conversation, because you know all kinds of things that I don't. The only way I'm going to be able to hear all the things you know and be able to learn from you is if you say, 'I'm not going to tear you down when presenting this information.' And I'm going to listen. I'm going to hear you. I'm going to receive. I may not agree, but that's how I learn."Can I get an amen?
And if you're thinking: "What Mommy Wars?" Know this: They are real.
Sometimes, I hear from people who say the Mommy Wars don't actually exist. It's true that they may be fueled to keep our attention off of issues that truly matter — like affordable childcare and wage equality, for example.
But the pervasive judgment moms face? That's all too real.
Sure, it's easy to say, "Just ignore it!" But as Douglas says, parenting issues are always going to be close to our hearts because they relate to our kids. And because raising our kids is one of the most important things for many of us, that judgment has an impact.
We're not talking about turning a blind eye to dangerous parenting here, like leaving a kid outside with an ungated pool. We're talking about the many different ways of raising kids safely. We're talking about sharing information so we can all learn and grow as moms — and ultimately decide what we feel is best for our kids when we have that information. There are many great ways of doing things. And what works for one family might not work for another.
What if we could do away with the Mommy Wars?
"We would be further down the path," Douglas said, if we adopted a "be curious, don't be judgmental" attitude. "If we approached any situation with curiosity as opposed to defensiveness — wow, can you imagine?!" she exclaimed. I can. And I'd like that very much.