The other day, a met another mom in yoga class. It's hard for me to make new friends, so I was pretty excited. We chatted for a few minutes and I quickly learned our parenting styles couldn't be more different. I have to admit, it I took a serious pause when she spoke of her home births and the benefits of herbal remedies. I wondered if we could still be friends or if yoga class was going to become super awkward. Could we base a friendship on the things every crunchy and silky mom have in common?
I mean, there are only a few parenting-related issues in which I couldn't get over. For example, if a mom decides not to vaccinate, if she spanks their kids, she's bigoted, homophobic, transphobic, or anti-feminist, or if she shame other parents who don't do things her way. Those are non-negotiable when establishing a friendship with another mom. However, I have tons of friends who are way crunchier than I am and all about the "natural" parenting philosophy, while other friends are silky smooth as can be and would much prefer convenience over anything else.
I think it's important to remember that no matter how someone chooses to parent their kids, there are some things even the crunchiest and silkiest moms have in common. Most importantly, they love their kids and want to do the best they can for them. Being a mom is hard AF, and while I have left crunchy parenting behind, and for some very good reasons, and become entirely silky either. I'd like to think that I have something in common with all other moms. At least enough to be friendly with them at morning yoga, anyway. Who knows, maybe if we can form bonds based on what we have in common as moms, maybe we can bridge other gaps in our community, country, and world, too? A mom can dream, can't she?
They Both Love Their Kids
I seriously think that almost all moms, crunchy or silky, love their kids and want what's best for them. At least, what they think is best for them. As long as someone isn't harming their kids or isn't actively judging me (which is ridiculous, because everyone knows I am a perfect mom), I am pretty "live and let live" about parenting. I have been a crunchy mom, a silky mom, and now rest firmly in the middle — scrunchy, if you will — and I have done them all from a place of love.
They Both Do What Works For Them
When I first became a mom, I tried really hard to fit in with the crunchy crowd, trying everything from babywearing and bed-sharing, to breastfeeding and making homemade baby food. I ended up discovering what did and didn't work for our family, our lifestyle, and our budget. So, while I still own baby carriers, I also vaccinate my kids, buy conventional produce, use formula, and send my kids to public school. We do what works for us, and other moms do, too.
Things Both Have Things That Don't Always Go As Planned
One of the most humbling and important lessons of parenthood is having something not work out the way you planned. In my experience, this happens pretty much every single day. Parenting is not like I imagined at all, and as my children have grown and changed I have had to adjust, shift gears, and change with them. With each child, stumbling block, hot mess mom moment and epic failure, I have learned from mistakes and adjusted my strategies to meet my kids' and my changing needs.
They Both Change Their Minds
Parenting is different than I thought it would be. I think most parents have a pivotal moment when reality doesn't quite match up with their expectations. Sometimes it's something that happens to them, and sometimes it's watching a friend struggle.
For me, that moment was not being able to breastfeed exclusively. I used to judge formula-feeding moms, and now I am a formula-feeding mom. Who knew?
They Both Think They Are Right
Most moms think that they are right about how they are parenting their kids. The thing is, most moms are totally doing the best they can and with the information they have to parent their kids. It's natural to think you are right if you are making decisions based on what you know, have experienced, and how you were raised. The trick is learning that, at least sometimes, something that is right for you is not right for other parents or families. And, that's OK.
They Both Learn As They Go
While I was a pretty perfect parent before I had kids, now I am pretty much a "choose your own adventure" parent. No one parenting style is going to work for all families and at all stages in parenthood. What works for me now with five kids was not even on my radar when my oldest was a baby. You live, learn, and adjust as you go and based on what works, which totally isn't always the way you envisioned.
They Both Make Mistakes
Being a mom is hard AF and sometimes, even I get things wrong.
All joking aside, I am actually the first to admit that I am not a perfect mom. And you know what? I don't want to be. I make mistakes, but through those mistakes I am able to learn and grow. I tell my kids, every single day, that it's OK to make mistakes. Everyone makes them, even the "perfect moms." They are just too scared to admit it.
They Both Work Hard
Parenting is hard work. Period. Crunchy moms who stay home, cloth diaper, breastfeed, home school, and brew their own kombucha work hard, and so do silky moms who drop their kids at daycare on their way to the office, formula feed, and pick up take-out and their kids from school on the way home.
They Are Both Good Parents
When you are as set in your ways as I am, it's sometimes hard to remember that there is more than one way to be a good parent. Different families have different needs, priorities, and abilities, and what works for you may not work for another mom. The one thing we all have in common, whether silky, crunchy or somewhere in between, is that we love our kids.
Honestly, that's the only thing that matters.