Today, with social media, it’s not uncommon to know another parent’s opinions but to know nothing of the heart behind it. We read about other moms’ passions as we scroll past on our Facebook newsfeed, but the disconnection from her heart and her story makes her passions easy to dismiss and even easier to judge.
Every parent has an area of passion when it comes to parenting; a mountain they are willing to die on, so to speak.
For some, it may be car seat safety. For others, it could be limiting screen time. Perhaps a friend of yours is adamant their children remain gluten-free, and maybe your neighbour down the way is equally as adamant that kids never climb slides.
Being a parent is very different today than it was 30 years ago when our parents were raising us; it’s not because they had less concerns, but because they didn’t have social media. In those days, the only way you knew another mom’s opinions about parenting, was because she was someone who was present in your world; she was someone who you had over for coffee, or met through church, or had children at the same school as yours. You heard her thoughts and ideas directly from her, and they were directly connected to her heart and her past experiences. You knew and understood her and her experiences alongside knowing the parenting mountains she would die on.
Today, with social media, it’s not uncommon to know another parent’s opinions but to know nothing of the heart behind it. Which, I believe, is why it’s so easy to get into the judgement game. We all do it.
For example: The thing I am probably the most passionate about when it comes to my parenting is what I am putting in my kids’ bodies. Anyone who is friends with me on social media will know that I somewhat regularly share about current findings about what is good for our bodies and what isn’t, and I’m not a believer in conventional medicine. But what you don’t know when you see my posts is the WHY behind my passion.
A few years ago, shortly after weaning my youngest child (she’s now 4), I had a major health crash. I all of a sudden was hit with insane insomnia (and I never struggle with sleep), I had no appetite and lost weight, and just felt off. The doctor shrugged and said I must have postpartum depression, because he couldn’t explain why an otherwise-healthy woman in child-bearing years would be experiencing these symptoms. I told him I didn’t feel depressed or down, except maybe being concerned about why I was feeling this way. I felt like this for a few months before seeking out some alternative health advice. I was told I had a hormonal imbalance (they weren’t balancing themselves out after weaning) as well as lots of gut inflammation. Long story short, I changed my diet (removed processed foods, decreased my gluten/dairy/sugar intake, and ate more whole foods), and felt great 6 months after the “crash”. I’ve experienced first hand how food played a major role in both the cause of the terrible feeling, as well as the healing and recovery. That’s a big reason I’m so passionate about what goes into our bodies.
Another “why” to my passion for healthy eating, is because shortly after my episode of not feeling well, we started noticing some strange behaviour in our one son. He couldn’t walk more than a block without crying that his legs hurt. He had no energy, was often grumpy, started developing allergies, and was completely insane if he had sugar. I sought out medical advice just to cover my bases, but again – they had nothing to say about it. This kid would have ended up on Ritalin if we had continued with that route. Instead, we knew that outward symptoms are just a sign of inward issues. And sure enough, with some help of a naturopath and some diet changes, we saw HUGE changes. Other people saw the changes, too. He started having energy. He was calmer and happier. He stopped wetting the bed. His eyes were bright again. All changes that came when we started taking crap out of his diet, and putting good stuff in. His behaviour can still be affected by sugar and dyes, so we limit those as much as we can (but also let him be a kid as much as we can). Anyone who has seen their child act like a drunken, angry fool simply because of what was put in his body has to start questioning if those things should be going into any of our bodies. I sure did, anyways.
On the outside, maybe all you see is a health-obsessed mom who doesn’t know how to let her kids have some fun. Maybe you roll your eyes because I don’t let my kids have Halloween candy, and you think I’m controlling. Or maybe you think I’m ill-advised and jump on whatever health bandwagon comes my way. It’s okay, you probably didn’t know my story. Because we usually don’t, and so instead we judge. We didn’t hear the story from our fellow mom as we sat on the park bench while our kids played; we read it as we scrolled past on our Facebook newsfeed, and the disconnection from another mom’s story makes her passions easy to dismiss and even easier to judge.
So here’s the thing I want to remember: That mom that’s obsessed with car seat safety? Maybe she was in a car accident as a teenager. That neighbour who never lets her kids watch movies? Maybe her only childhood memory of her mom is the back of her head while she watched daytime television all day. That friend who won’t let her 10 year-old walk to the park alone? Maybe she was sexually abused by her friend’s older brother under a playground structure when she was a child. That mom from school who won’t let her kid touch food that’s not organic? Maybe her dad died from a brain tumour and she can’t stand the thought of putting chemicals in her kids’ bodies.
And also, I want to be okay to own the reasons why my passions are what they are, but understand they don’t need to be other peoples’ passions. I might be really adamant about limiting sugar, but you don’t need to be. You might be really into keeping your child rear-facing until they’re 3, but I don’t need to be.
So even when I don’t hear the stories behind the passion, even if I might never know the “why” that drives it, I really want to learn to give grace. I want live with the assumption that we all have reasons/experiences/beliefs that drive us to make the decisions we do as parents. And those things aren’t wrong, they’re just different. I want to give more of this grace, and I’d like to receive it, too. (But I’m pretty sure I know which of those needs to come first. 🙂 )
So what is your parenting “mountain” that maybe no one else understands? And what is your “why”?