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I am woman, watch me grow. See me standing toe to toe, as I spread my loving arms across the land.  I am strong, I am invincible, I am woman… Helen Reddy

Today’s blog is brought to you by the letter U…. for Unity… actually maybe it should be brought to you by the letters W.U… Women’s Unity. We need to stop the fighting and start to stand together, arm in arm and fight the big battles. .I’m really cross this morning at how women can be the biggest critics of other women.

This morning on Australian breakfast TV, there was a protest outside Channel 7’s studio.  Breastfeeding mums with babies attached to the breast abounded.  I have no problems with them breastfeeding at all but what I’m offended about is that we still feel that if another person’s opinion is different to ours we have a right to be affronted or outraged.  David Koch, Channel 7’s Sunrise host, said on Friday’s program that he agreed with a decision to ask a women who was breastfeeding at the side of a public pool to move back.  Perhaps he shouldn’t have voiced the opinion as he must have known it would create the same old argument about breastfeeding but we live in a country where free speech is not only allowed but supposedly encouraged. It seems when it is not allowed is when it is about an issue that we are defensive about.   Before you all jump on your high horse now that I’m voicing an opinion, please hear me out.

The comments that have been made about him are completely outrageous: from him being obsessed with breasts and some sort of pervert, to. he obviously wasn’t breastfed himself, thereby trying to cast a slur on his own mother.  Seriously I’m not a huge Kochie fan anymore but how does someone saying he thinks she could have been a bit more discreet make him some sort of perverted monster who’s mother should be subjected to denigration? Come on ladies, isn’t it time we started to realise that our rights can better be defended with dignity and understanding? I may be sounding like a radical feminist in saying this, but I have always believed women really are the stronger sex.  How then, can we remain a strong unit if we self implode?

I breastfed my 3 children, though only for 3 months each time. This wasn’t a choice, I just didn’t do it successfully.  I was looked down upon by those who did do it successfully as an inferior parent because I didn’t give my babies “the best start in life”. Hell, I gave  birth to them, I changed their nappies, I got up and fed them, by breast or by bottle, who gives a damn, I nurtured them, I sang to them, I tended to their fevers, I kissed away their fears, I taught them right from wrong, I cried when they hurt, I laughed when they laughed, I gave them language, I gave them the freedom to stand on their own two feet….. in short…. I loved them.  I loved them no less because I didn’t breastfeed them for more than 3 months.  I loved them the same as the mum sitting one side of me at the health centre bottle feeding.. and the same as the mum sitting on the other side of me glaring at her while breastfeeding. Why does  this have to be a “me vs her” battle?

I don’t think anyone would disagree with the breast is best slogan.  Of course, it’s what a mother’s body is made to do.  Sometimes however, nature, for whatever reason, didn’t read the memo.  The mother doesn’t say, “oh well, milks dried up, I guess I won’t feed you anything at all, fend for yourself”.. The mother says (usually after beating herself up for being a supposed failure), let me do some research on the best formula for my baby so I can give it the best I can give it.  Breastfeeding does not make you a good mother or a bad one.. You breastfed your baby?? Fantastic… You bottle fed your baby?? Fantastic… You have something in common with each other… YOU FED YOUR BABY!!

Let me tell you ladies, men are not holding us back…  We are! This war women wage against each other is the biggest reason women are still considered the weaker sex.  I read a quote that said.. If women ruled the world.. there would be no wars.. Just a bunch of jealous countries not talking to each other... Sums it all up really doesn’t it?  How about we show tolerance and understanding for someone who may do life different to how we do it. We, as a gender are our own worst enemy.

My children have grown up now but I can clearly remember the divide between the groups.. First it was breast vs bottle mums.  Breastfeeding mums looked at bottle mums as if they were lower than an ants underbelly.  Bottle mums looked at breast mums as if they were sanctimonious upstarts who felt they were better than everyone else.  And so the divide begins.  Being a new mum is damn hard work.  Do we, as women have to make it harder? I suffered severe post natal depression when I gave birth to my daughter.  I tried my  hardest to breastfeed but not only was it completely painful but I didn’t produce good quality milk and my baby was starving as a result.  They did all the weighing tests before and after feeds to know she was getting enough milk but it had no goodness.  I was depressed, had virus after virus and in pain from breast feeding.  I wonder why I didn’t succeed?

Did I have other women offering me support or comfort? Did I have other mothers say to me, “it’s okay, don’t stress”? No!  I had other mothers accuse me of not loving my baby.  I had other mothers belittle me and make me feel worse than I already did.  That’s just what a woman suffering from post natal depression needs.  I’ve seen the other side of the coin too.. the bitchiness and jealousy of women who bottle fed towards a mother minding her own business and quietly feeding her baby.  I’ve seen the nasty comments towards women feeding their baby beyond an age that someone else thinks they should.  One of the comments on the Sunrise facebook page today resorted to commenting on how ugly one of the mums feeding their baby was.  This sort of attitude has to stop if we want to raise our kids in a kinder, gentler world.

If you feel so secure in the choice you’ve made, why are you so intent on belittling another person for theirs? Why does my choice to bottle or breast feed impact on your decision to do the opposite? If you really are passionate about breastfeeding, offer some support to the new mum who is struggling to do just that.  If you feel that, for whatever reason, bottle feeding is your choice, embrace it and don’t feel as if someone who is breastfeeding is doing so just to spite you.  We do what we think is best for our babies.  Remember that saying… a happy mum makes a happy baby.. It’s completely true.  What someone else does or doesn’t do is completely irrelevant to your experience.

We then move on to the “working mum vs stay at home mum” debate. Now here is another ridiculous “them vs us” battle that doesn’t need to exist.  The mum who chooses to stay at home to look after her children, generally goes without so much to be able to afford that luxury.  She also has the 24/7 baby poo, dribble, crying, whinging, fighting, babytalk mindlessness that is the reality of parenting.  It isn’t all cuddles and kisses and funny things kids say.   It’s hard slog, and the hardest of all is the boredom and craving for adult company.  The longing to use your brain again.  The need to do something and have someone acknowledge it with more than a “ta” after much prompting.   The working mum has all the guilt and the juggling between motherhood and work life balance.  She feels completely guilty when she drops her baby off at day care and it cries.  She feels like she is totally overwhelmed and always on the run.  Yes she has time away from her baby but  she probably wants to be with it instead.

Chances are, whatever decision you make regarding working or not working is going to leave you with regrets. The way to deal with those regrets or guilt isn’t to aim your own insecurities at your supposed enemy.  Try to see life from the other person’s perspective. Maybe, what from the outside looks like the ideal life to you, is actually every bit as hard as the life you have but for different reasons.  Once again, if we offer support to each other rather than trying to make ourselves feel better by belittling another woman, we might raise our children to treat others nicer as well.

We, as women are the biggest critics of the way another woman looks.  They are too fat, too thin, too grey, too colored, too drab, too bright, too pretty, too ugly.. Seriously, is this maturity?  I used to dread going up to the school to pick the kids up as I knew I was being sized up by other mums.  Is that just paranoia? No…. they were sizing me up.  It’s common practise to see the same divide amongst the schoolyard mums as it is the divide amongst their own kids in the playground.  Why do children bully, belittle, humiliate and divide? I wonder, could it be, they see their own parents do it in everyday life? It happens at 3.30pm everyday right around this country and it’s not the kids doing it.  If I go to pick my kids up and I’m in a trackie pants with an old jumper on, hair not done and no make up on… am I any worse than the mum who is immaculately dressed and coiffed, fully made up? Am I not still there on the dot, picking my kids up exactly as she is?  The divide is there again… The mum who is disheveled (that was always me lol) feels inferior to the mum who is immaculate, whether there is any intent on making her feel that way or not.

Then there is the mum who always wants to know how your child is doing at school to make sure their kid is doing better.  Seriously folks.. this one REALLY makes my blood boil.  Kids are kids.. they develop at their own pace.  They aren’t all going to be Rhodes scholars.  They aren’t all going to master 147 languages while playing the violin with their toes for the London Symphony Orchestra and feeding the poor in the streets of India.  They are going to be what and who they were destined to be if we haven’t totally destroyed them by our choices to breast or bottle feed and our choices to work or not work or our choices to dress up or down when picking them up from school. Seriously, haven’t we got better things to worry about.

Probably one of the greatest divides amongst grown women is the decision to be a mother or not.  I have friends and family who do not have children.  Some because they chose not to, some because they couldn’t and some because they never met someone and chose not to be a single parent. They still contribute everyday to society.  They work.. they pay taxes.. they volunteer.. they babysit for their family and friends who do have children… they have relationships that work and relationships that don’t.  They are no better or no worse than those of us that chose to be parents.  They are not less of a woman because of their lack of offspring.  Yet once again the battle rages.  The smug sayings about how women who have children are true women…and  the innuendo about the warmth of a person who chooses not to have kids.  Seriously, is it really necessary? Mother Theresa didn’t have children.  I defy anyone to say she was cold or heartless.  I defy anyone to say she didn’t contribute to this earth.  And I defy anyone to say she was less of a woman because she didn’t have children of her own.

It’s time, as women, we stopped the implosion.  It’s time we realised that the way we act towards each other is what we are teaching our children.  There is another saying I really love that sums this whole blog up… “A candle does not have to give anything of itself to light another candle. the wick doesn’t get any shorter, wax remains constant and the flame is still hot”.  Your light doesn’t diminish because you offer some light to another person.  Just as someone else shining brightly in what they do doesn’t make you any look any worse.  In fact, their light may just brighten up your world too.  Many candles glowing together create the sort of light this world needs.  Can’t we try to get rid of the great divide and create a world where we light another woman’s candle without feeling we have lost something by doing so?

Breast feed or bottle feed, work or don’t work, dress up or dress down, have kids or don’t have kids be fat or be skinny.. who cares? Can’t we just celebrate our individuality and uniqueness? Can’t we offer a kind word to someone who does things differently to us.  Do we have to judge them because they are different? I celebrate the diversity of my friends.  On my facebook list, as in real life, I have the largest cross section of friends.  They are male and female.. they are parents or not parents… they are Christians and Athiests and lots of other religions… They speak many languages.  They are skilled workers, labourers and pensioners.  They are well educated and have minimal education.  They have money and they are poor.. They believe in life after death and they believe life stops when breath does.  They love to travel and they are home bodies.  They are fat, thin and everything in between. They are funny and they are serious… But they all have a few things in common.. They are people.. They have both good and bad traits.. They are my friends.. And most of all THEY MATTER.

Let’s start to celebrate diversity. Wouldn’t the world be a boring place if we all looked the same, acted the same, dressed the same, listened to the same music, watched the same movies, believed the same things and didn’t have differing opinions.  We are way too evolved to keep raising generation after generation that still feel that snuffing someone else’s flame out is the way to make theirs shine brighter. We have to respect and celebrate the differences that make us who we are.

We, as women, are the nurturers, the peace makers, the hands that rock the cradle. We need to stop taking it personally if another woman chooses to make a different decision to us.  We need to celebrate our rights as women to be anything we want to be.  Our female ancestors didn’t have those same rights.  We need to save the fighting for the big issues.  We need to fight things that REALLY matter to women.

We need to take a stand against women being gang raped and murdered, we need to take a stand to get girls all over the world the right to an education, we need to fight to abolish child prostitution, we need to fight to ensure our children live safe lives without fear, we need to fight to ensure children all over the world are fed, we need to fight to abolish female circumcision, we need to fight to raise the plight of our sisters all over the world.  There are serious issues facing us ladies.  These are issues that will change the world our children live in.  As women who band together we can achieve anything.  As women who don’t fear losing ourselves if we light another’s candle, we can make this world shine brightly.

Please stop the implosion.  Stop the fighting and the cattiness. Stop the comparisons and judgments.  We are better than that.  Celebrate your individuality.  Rejoice in your uniqueness.  Don’t be frightened to stand up for who you are and what you believe but pick your battles.  It’s time we stop fighting over the basic rights we won ages ago and just live them.  And it’s time to start fighting the bigger fights.  The world needs us. Our children need us to make this world a better place for them.  Let’s stand together.  Women united can achieve anything.  We are strong.. we are invincible.. we are women.

Happy rejoicing.. Livvy 🙂

Women united can never be divided

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