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    Entries in judgment (1)


    team mama

    The deeper I get into this motherhood thing, the more the topics of 'making people feel bad' or 'honoring everyone's choices' comes up. In short, this all seems to fall under the blanket of TEAM MAMA: an idyllic group with matching t-shirts (the color of which is universally flattering, obviously) that gets together to talk about how great it is that we all make different decisions. On this team, there's none of that nasty, terrible thing called judgment; everyone listens serenely to others' experiences, then congratulates each other on the group's willingness to assume that everyone is doing her best. Your ideas don't have to mesh, but you'd better not make anyone feel BAD, by way of personal story or facts or legitimate questions, because then? You're a dreadful, unfeeling and vindictive person. But: no judgment. 

    I have always been a happy outsider to this group. Firm in my opinions and willing to express them calmly, I'll partake in the odd conversation about "the issues," as I find banter fulfilling and interesting (and assume, often mistakenly, that if others are engaging in a discussion with two obvious viewpoints, they do as well). About 75% of the time, this goes over like a lead balloon. Perhaps I should start prefacing my comments with "no judgment, but..." or some other hollow validation (my particular "favorite" being 'no offense' -- the universal alarm signaling that someone is about to offend you), but time and again, I assume that people are able to handle logical, fact-based debate. It turns out, this is not a tenet of Team Mama. It's actively discouraged! Encouraged, however, are apologetic half-arguments, embarrassing admissions, flippancy and a general air of well, I made this choice, but I could totally be wrong, so you know, it's whatever! 


    My question is this: what does it take, exactly, to get you thrown off Team Mama? What qualifies one for exile to the Island of Misfit Mothers? If we're under the assumption that every woman is simply doing her best (as most therapist will tell you is indeed the case, despite lots of truly shitty results), that every decision is well-researched and thought-out, as seems to be the prevailing theory, where do we draw the line? Because everyone has one. 

    I can list the unpopular issues that, if it weren't for fear of banishment, might be some people's threshold: breast vs. bottle; circumcised vs. intact; spanking vs. ...not. I still haven't come across the one thing that rallies the troops against a common evil, excepting, that is, judgment. So, if someone uses a belt on her kid's bare ass, but does it in good faith because she was raised that way and turned out "just fine" that okay? If someone submits her daughter to removal of the clitoral hood because it's culturally normal, is that okay? DUI? Allowing your son to wear a tutu? What is it -- someone please enlighten me! For reals! 

    Will Team Mama ever take a break from self-congratulation to make a stand on something? Why is holding people accountable for their choices, for presenting valid, opposing information so mean? If there's room for agreement, there should be room for debate, otherwise we're doing our children -- and, I think, more importantly, ourselves -- a gigantic disservice. If my son sees me as a person, specifically a woman, who loves to research things, who makes informed choices and likes to discuss them with people who don't necessarily agree but can counter with equally well-researched arguments? AWESOME. If he sees me as a shrinking violet with herd mentality who'd rather not offend anyone with her views? FAILURE. I was talking to someone the other day about politics being an impolite conversation topic. Lamenting that, especially for my children's sake. If we can't sometimes delve into real conversation that foments new ideas, broadens horizons, and makes people a little hot under the collar, I fear for the future. Hell, I fear for the present: there are many, MANY who take pride in their ignorance and cling to outdated information to the rest of our detriment. I've also seen firsthand the results of teaching children that no one is to ever feel bad for anything: often, it's entitled people who make excuses for their own bad behavior or irresponsibility, who have little reason to do anything difficult or take risks, who don't speak their minds because they barely have minds to speak of. 

    I'm lucky to have good friends. Good mama friends, a few of whom are torch bearers for the Team, and in some ways I envy their ability to assimilate. On the other hand, though, I'm perfectly happy with the people I've welcomed into my life. I don't feel at a loss for friends, for simpatico people to talk to, and every month, lately, brings news that a new little baby's being born to a set of radical, Radical parents in my circles. So, Team Mama, you might see me at some of your potlucks but your shirts are bunchy in the armpits and I'd rather talk about, well, anything, than the latest episode of Up All Night/Teen Mom or the Twilight saga. If you work up a hardline on something, send me a memo, but othewise I think we'll just have to agree to disagree. If you can handle that.