I find myself, many days, in an unusual position. Doing what I do – embracing all aspects of parenthood, being more mother-centric than child-centric, and worried mostly about maternal health and well-being and the subsequent, filtering down and through their families, and society – I am privy to the joys and elation, as well as the troubles and torment that mums (and dads) from ‘both’ sides experience.
Of course, when I say ‘both’ sides, there are something like 36 billion sides (at my last count). However, when any form of parenting whatever is discussed, there are often two ‘sides’ or two aspects that are the crux of the discussion.
Stay at home and working mums.
Co-sleeping or controlled crying.
Lunch-art makers and packet tossers in for the school lunch.
Parents and non-parents.
Mothers and “I choose not to have children”s,
Mothers of seven and mothers of one.
Baby wearing/attachment parenting or whatever the hell the opposite of that is.
There are, of course, also something like 50 million shades of grey in all of this. I just find there are two not-quite-extremes, as well as two opposing teams or sides or whatever for anything and everything. Grey is not an option.
(The media, of course, also like to take the extremes and play them out as though they are the norm, but that’s an entirely different ramble from me.)
I see, hear, and feel the frustrations of both, of each of these camps. I am even loathe to use the terms like sides and camps and teams because, from where I sit, there are none. I do, however, realise for many that these teams or sides or whatevers do exist and I see how much the fight to be heard, how much they are taken down, the hurt and horrible things said about them.
I also hear and feel the support and joys within each camp; the ‘wins’ they feel they have made, and the scaffolding in the form of like minded others who hold them up, hold their hands, reassure and more.
I hear, on one hand, how stay at home mums are lazy, useless, a drain on the economy and society.
I hear, on the other hand, how working mums are a scourge on society; how they are to blame for unruly, overweight, or violent children.
I see stay at home mums fight to be understood, to be recognised for the contribution they are making.
I see working mums fight to justify their existence and their actions.
I see both just fighting against the hurt they are having dumped on them, and fighting just for a word of encouragement or understanding, and, mostly, acceptance; of their choice, of their situations, of their circumstances.
If I venture into any world, on or offline, that is a support group or similar for ‘one or the other’ I see the