Mommy Wars: Tales From The Front Lines
I bet you had no idea that something as seemingly innocent as ketchup could be intensely divisive.
I learned the hard way that it can be.
I was out to dinner with a large group recently. P was sitting on my mother's lap and she was feeding him french fries. She asked me if it was okay to give him one that had ketchup on it. I responded that I prefer to give him plain french fries and that he does not consume ketchup. I was asked why. I responded that there is no reason to since it is primarily comprised of sugar and it isn't good for one's teeth.
I accidentally hit a nerve.
Another young mother was a member of our dinner party. I heard her mutter under her breath "His teeth are going to fall out anyway".
Since I was not well acquainted with this woman I chose to let the comment drift into the background of the surrounding dinner time chatter but I was annoyed. I am still annoyed. I did not judge this woman. I did not attack her or her parenting style. I was not even addressing her. I was merely answering a question and monitoring MY son's food intake. Why did she immediately become defensive and hostile upon hearing about my personal parenting choice?
Sure his baby teeth will fall out. Perhaps I should teach him how to chew tobacco too. Are you serious?
I then decided to put on the sancti-mommy act just to passive aggressively annoy her. I mentioned how I (attempt to) brush Ps teeth twice a day, and how he has his first dentist appointment at 13 months in a few weeks, and on and on. I could tell she was annoyed and throughout dinner I caught tidbits of the woman's conversation with her husband and I heard him remark "Hmm maybe we shouldn't be giving our daughter so much ketchup". She replied "Hmph ya well good luck with that".
She seemed like a completely sweet woman and I am sure she is but I am curious to know why she (and other women like her I have previously encountered) felt the need to be rude and offended by my personal parenting choice.
Did I inadvertently make her feel inferior as a mother? If so then perhaps she shouldn't give her kid ketchup if she is not entirely comfortable with her choice. Did she think I was obnoxious because I am thoughtful about the food choices I provide for my child? That is okay because I think she is obnoxious for not being thoughtful about her choices. The difference is I am polite enough to keep my opinions to myself...at dinner anyway :)
Crunchy people get stereotyped as annoying holier-than-thou know-it-alls but (putting my bias aside for a second of course) I find many mainstream mothers to be extremely combative when faced with any parenting alternative that they did not choose to partake in.
I look at it this way: If my thoughtfulness as a mother makes you feel so uncomfortable that you have to make snarky comments then I must be doing something right. Try it. Educate yourself and go the extra mile like I attempt to (no one is perfect). You might find that it works out well for you or you may validate that it does not but then at the very least you will feel secure enough in YOUR choices to not make bitchy comments about mine.