Why I Abandoned Advocacy for Support (Peace in a Time of Mommy Wars)

I used to be a passionate advocate of breastfeeding, of gentle parenting, of certain “ideals”. I no longer am. I’m not a lactivist. I’m not an intactivist. I’m not a wait-it-out-ivist. I’m not a soldier in a battle in the mommy wars. In a way I have become a medic. I also help evacuate refugees that are caught in crossfire between opposing camps in this mad free-for-all fiasco of hurt feelings and bitterness. 
Being an “advocate” came naturally in the beginning. I was raised with picket signs and letters of protest against things that I felt were an injustice. I’m a daughter of a 1960’s mom.

Some things seemed black and white back then in the beginning. Those things seemed even more clearly right or wrong because of parenting decisions that I was beginning to make for my own child.

As often happens with any war, you head in as a new soldier expecting to win battles. Some people become hardened and excel at aggressive assaults or impenetrable defense. Some people become strategists. Some people become diplomats. Some people get caught in the crossfire. Some people see the casualties.

I saw the casualties. Moms who doubted their choices, their motherhood, their existence as human beings. Moms trying to make “methods” work to the point where they were caught between the method and their child and the method was winning. Postpartum depression, social isolation, sadness, anger, angry-sadness and withdrawal. I saw the white flags of surrender.

And I realized something. Discussions about parenting methods should be this thing of JOY. Of fascination, of learning, of discovery. Of finding out what works for us.. Of finding out what makes sense for us.

Few people come to joy through force. It was realizing this that caused me to abandon advocacy in order to be a provider of support.

I had abandoned advocacy long before the “birth” of Nurshable. I had abandoned it because I did not want to be one of the casualties, and because it left me feeling sad and defeated. I simply don’t have the heart or stomach for advocacy. There is a place in this world for advocates, and I admire the work that they do. But I will never be a soldier, and I do not believe I will ever be an “advocate” again. It requires talents that I simply do not possess.

I purchased nurshable.com on October 25 2011 and I didn’t touch it for a good long while. When I found out that I was having a daughter as opposed to a third son, something shifted in my heart and in my head. I started seeing my child in all of the women around me rather than seeing myself. And I realized that I do not want my daughter to be a casualty.

After my sweet little one was born, I made the decision to start writing her letters about my own journey through motherhood. I wanted to somehow convey to her all of the things that I’ve learned about finding joy in choices. I decided to share these letters, as they are things that I wished I could have read as a new mom.. Things I wish I could have read instead of the endless threads of who is and is not right and how right or how wrong each person is.

Through speaking to my daughter in these letters I’ve found an incredible sense of calm and peace. And through speaking to the readers of Nurshable I am growing my peace. I’m growing my compassion. I’m seeing what happens when there is place of peace outside of a war.

There is no clear “birthday” for Nurshable. Nurshable was not “born” when I registered the domain. Nurshable was not “born” when I found out I was having a daughter. Nurshable was not “born” alongside my dear baby girl. So I can’t write a birthday post for this blog on a specific date. So this post will serve as my “happy birthday” to this safe place that WE have created. Myself, the readers of Nurshable, and our children.

Thank you for helping me find this place, and for helping me keep it so full of joy and calm. By leaving the comments open, this blog has become a community that extends to the WIO group and the Nurshable page, and to all of the friends that I have made and that have come to know each other as well. This has become a creation of yours as much as it is a creation of mine.

And it makes me smile.

6 thoughts on “Why I Abandoned Advocacy for Support (Peace in a Time of Mommy Wars)

  1. I have thanked you in the past, and I will thank you yet again… Your words have done so much for me. They have given me confidence in my own intuitive-knowing; they have inspired me to follow my instincts; they have normalized my feelings; they have made me smile; they have made me cry (mostly happy tears); and they have made me feel connected to people I have never met, will likely never meet face to face, but who are a part of my inner being. I am the best parent I know to be, partly influenced by you and your words. So, thank you, thank you, thank you. And thank you for allowing me, and everyone else, be a part of your world.

  2. My baby boy was born the day after you bought the domain name! Somehow, THAT makes me smile! Thanks for the safe space. It’s very valuable and appreciated!

  3. Interesting post. I agree with the intent of it, but I still consider myself an advocate. I’m not an advocate for a specific choice. I am an advocate for securing the ability of parents to make the right choice for them.

    If a mom doesn’t want to breastfeed, that is none of my business. If a mom wants desperately to breastfeed and isn’t getting the support she needed, that is where my advocacy is activated.

    My battle isn’t against other parents, it is against the system.

    1. Annie,

      Yes. Exactly.

      I’ll go to bat for moms/dads. I’m just not an advocate for a cause, and I don’t advocate inbetween parents and their children. (Although in abuse cases such advocates are sorely needed. Breastfeeding advocates are sorely needed, etc. Etc. As well.)

      You make a huge difference in many people’s lives through PhD in Parenting. :) I would say that you are much more comfortable with the idea of advocacy and are able to do it more gracefully than I would be able to. Thank you for that. You make a difference in ways and areas that would frustrate and overwhelm me.

      -Sarah

  4. I really like this post, and your site. I found it today because some friends of mine are WIO enthusiasts and I was curious about the method. I myself am a moderate Babywise/CIO mom, but I certainly don’t mind other moms choosing different methods from mine–to each her own! Your post is refreshing because those of us on my “side” of the sleep-training fence also feel very mistreated at times: it’s upsetting to be told we are unfeeling, cold, and even abusive, when we are also using loving methods to help our little ones sleep. I have used moderate CIO with huge success in all three of my babies, and they are happy and independent and well rested, but I don’t think my way is the ONLY way by any means. Thanks–an appreciative non-WIO mom :)

    1. <3 We all have the tools that fit in our toolkits. My tools are different from yours just as my kids are different from yours. Thank you for taking the time to comment!

      A lot of people view a lot of things as choices divided by fences- as you say they look at people doing things differently as “the other side”. Silly people.

      We’re all on the same side. We’re just using different tools to raise our children in the ways that we feel are healthy for our children and our families.

      I am making a loving choice with my children, and it sounds like you have made many loving choices with yours. That’s something to celebrate, not bicker over! Yeesh. :)

      Ignore people that say things that you know don’t apply to your relationship with your child.

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