Visiting my brother and sister-in-law out of town one weekend, she and I ran to the store to grab some groceries. As I saw a mom with one child pushing the decked-out, double-seated car basket, I voiced my frustration to my sister-in-law how I don’t appreciate when single kids get that cart and I’m left with the regular single-seat basket while juggling my one- and two-year-old children. Within our conversation she voiced that her one young daughter really enjoys the treat of riding in the cart and how the little special things can make a child’s day.
Later, I read a blog post written by a mom with multiple children in which she strongly held her opinion about the pet peeve of single children in double carts. A couple of days later came the response of a “singleton” mom. I had three thoughts about my talk with my sister-in-law. First, Man, I put my foot in my mouth! Second, my sister-in-law is a sweet heart. Last, I really hope I was not as self-centered in that moment as I am fairly certain I must have been.
Herein lies the trouble with so-called mommy wars: Both sides often have good points. Yes, there is general consensus among everyone that breastmilk offers additional benefits; there are a number of real, relatable reasons a family may need or choose formula. There are multiple perspectives with co-sleeping vs. crib, babywearing vs. stroller, homeschooling vs. public school, and more.
All moms have their struggles no matter the number of children or the particular issues of each individual child. In the case of the grocery cart, I think one of the underlying assumptions we don’t mention is the “might” that comes with an increased number of children. For example, moms with multiple kids may talk down to mothers of “just” one kid, forgetting how much of a challenge it was to have one kid when they were in the midst of it. It was the training that came with “just” one kid that helped prepare them for more. Likewise, I often see “choice” cited for women with more children—as in, you had them all (and by all, here in America, we mean any more than 2) by choice so now you must never, ever complain about it.
My work and family leave me intensely depleted at the end of some days (many days…). And now another mama wants me to see her personal, intricately personal point of view, and consider how she lives out her similar values? Ain’t nobody got time for that! But I need to find the time, because the world does not revolve around my life experience. My values are not the gold standard. I don’t make meaning of her life through my life; her life has meaning—and worth— in and of itself. When I try to see her through my perspective, I miss out on hers. It only takes a second to bite your tongue.
My sister-in-law had a kind response to my soapbox at the time. She said, “Well, I never thought about it that way. That’s a good point.” Of course I don’t know what was happening internally, but since she listened to me I felt open enough to consider her point of view as well. She’s juggling a young one and elementary-aged kiddo. I don’t need to compare it to my situation of one- and two-year-old. Both of us are working our tails off to meet a thousand different wants and needs from a dozen different sources every single day.
I say WE should ride around in those carts and our loved ones can push US around.
Lynette Moran shares her life with her husband and two sons, ages 2 and 3 years. She has cloth diapered both since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly and mindful living.