Solidarity for a different kind of motherhood
June 15, 2016 11:24 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for websites, forums, groups where I can talk to people about pregnancy, birth and childraising without all the stereotypical societal crap. Realism and respect for ambivalence appreciated.

I don't want people pushing their truth on me. I also don't want to be told (implicitly or otherwise) that I am wrong for (x) where x might mean planning to abdicate unbalanced emotional labor roles, planning to have babysitters and continue my hobbies and keep my social media profile picture one of myself not my baby, or just generally not trying to be a stereotypical or standard-gender-role mother when there are a lot of loud messages implying thats what I "should" do. I don't like the word selfish thrown around for self-care behavior and I need to find a community that understands this. I don't like the archetype that says I can't be my own person once I have a baby. I need a sense of community where I won't be judged this way.

I'm sure MeFi can help too but I'm limited to one question a week here. So feel free to offer your favorite reality-based parenting advice here as well as suggestions for other places I can find solidarity.
posted by crunchy potato to Society & Culture (19 answers total) 41 users marked this as a favorite
I found that at the altdotlife forums. You need to create an account to see the alt.mama section, which is what you want. The forum is sadly not as active as it used to be, but that section gets a fair amount of traffic.
posted by Kriesa at 11:47 AM on June 15, 2016 [3 favorites]

I'm a big fan of the One Bad Mother Facebook group for this. It's not perfect but it's pretty well-moderated and the mods really work hard to make sure it's a judgement-free place that's supportive of all kinds of parenting choices, self-care chief among them. Many interest-specific subgroups available as well.

The One Bad Mother podcast is really good too.
posted by Knicke at 11:48 AM on June 15, 2016 [5 favorites] is quieter than it used to be, but it's a really good space for sensible discussions about parenting.

That said... I was thinking very much along the same lines as you before my kid was born, that I wanted a community to discuss parenting but was worried about all the hordes of judgy martyrs that would pounce on me for not immediately giving up my job/denouncing my former self/devoting everything to my child. And... it hasn't really been like that. I mean, yeah there are some nasty people out there, but on the whole I have found a great deal of support from all sorts of other mothers even when their approaches to parenting/life differed greatly to mine.

So, I suppose what I'm saying is, don't worry too much that you're doomed to be the odd one out for your approach to parenting. You're not as alone as you think, and there is more support and kindness out there than societal portrayals of mothers might lead you to expect.
posted by Catseye at 11:54 AM on June 15, 2016 [30 favorites]

I hate most of reddit, but r/breakingmom is really good for no judging and advice. Also r/breastfeeding if that's going to be of interest, which is really supportive without (I've found) being vile about formula feeding.
posted by threetwentytwo at 12:09 PM on June 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

I found that, believe it or not, in a Bump birth month board (July 2012, represent; we've mostly migrated to a Facebook group these days)- everyone is super cool and supportive of one another. And it's helpful to be friends with people who all have kids the same age so we can constantly be reminded that our kids aren't unique monsters, they're just the age they are.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:33 PM on June 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

I found r/babybumps and r/beyondthebump pretty non-precious about all things mom.

On preview, I agree with Catseye.
posted by bimbam at 12:35 PM on June 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

...but on the whole I have found a great deal of support from all sorts of other mothers even when their approaches to parenting/life differed greatly to mine.

This has been my experience, too. There's a lot of lowest-common-denominator media out there that just loves to hate on moms, parents, kids-these-days, and on and on. It's stifling. I would encourage you to actively seek out a mom's group, pre-natal mom's classes through your OB or mid-wife can be a good place. You might have to be the outgoing one who suggests keeping in touch or creating a small group facebook page but having other moms/parents with kids close to yours in age can be an amazing touchstone. My group of women are all very different but we support each other and the laid back moms (with older kids) are like gold.

Two things to keep in mind – everyone for the most part muddles through and chooses the best course of action based on a personal melange of this is how I was raised + this is my threshold for what I can do + this is how my kid responds + this is what my partner does... and on and on. Just someone else saying, "This is what I do," can feel like a personal attack even when it is not. People are defensive about their parenting. It gets to a core vulnerability. I see a lot of online screeds which amount to "someone is judging me!" and when I read them, I don't necessarily see that. I see oversensitivity and overtiredness. I feel a twinge whenever the talk turns to breastfeeding because it didn't work out for us. But I can't take all that on, so I don't. I try to be very open about how it didn't work for us and my kid is pretty much formula raised. You can plainly see the evidence of what a badass my daughter is so I don't feel too much sadness over it. But just because there is judginess out there doesn't mean you need to take that on. If you see it, ask yourself first, do I need to take that on? The answer is no, you don't. Just like the woman I met who is still breastfeeding her child at age 4. That wouldn't work for me. But she doesn't need to take on that feeling I have that that wouldn't work for me because it has nothing to do with her.

Second of all – even in a space which seems judgy, you do you. There are kindred spirits everywhere but if you let certain people dominate the airspace then you'll never find them. I think my mom friends have stayed friends because we are all pretty chill and want the best for our kids but we also know that you can't sacrifice everything for your children. People talk about that but it doesn't work that way. Your kids don't want a hollowed out husk of a mother figure, they want a parent. You find your way, encourage that beautiful point of view and you'll find your cohort.

Best of luck!
posted by amanda at 12:35 PM on June 15, 2016 [9 favorites]

If you like podcasts, you might try The Longest Shortest Time, which does a very good job of trying to be inclusive and non-judgemental. You hear stories from people from a lot of different backgrounds and who have had very different experiences. It's about sharing the different experiences with one another rather than advocating for one way over another.
posted by LKWorking at 12:43 PM on June 15, 2016 [4 favorites]

I feel like metafilter is good for this.

For baby specific items, I seriously use my baby center birth board. It is judgemental and often gives bad advice. But there are a few poster who consistently give good advice and tell relatable stories and I go there for them. Also I sometimes poke folks for fun. Also, becoming a mom makes you give judgemental advice. Like omg if your kid is only doing x instead of your, you need to take them to early intervention like six months ago. And I really love it.
posted by Kalmya at 12:51 PM on June 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

A close friend and new-ish mom's favorite blog for this is Renegade Mothering, partly for the writing, but also for the tagline "join me in the fight against helpful parenting advice."
posted by deludingmyself at 1:21 PM on June 15, 2016 [6 favorites]

...but on the whole I have found a great deal of support from all sorts of other mothers even when their approaches to parenting/life differed greatly to mine.

This has been my experience as well. You know the parable of the two villages?

A man who was traveling came upon a farmer working in his field and asked him what the people in the next village were like. The farmer asked "What were the people like in the last village you visited?" The man responded "They were kind, friendly, generous, great people." "You'll find the people in the next village are the same," said the farmer.
Another man who was traveling to the same village came up to the same farmer somewhat later and asked him what the people in the next village were like. Again the farmer asked "What were the people like in the last village you visited?" The second man responded, "They were rude, unfriendly, dishonest people." "You'll find the people in the next village are the same," said the farmer.

Potential kindred spirits are out there.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 1:25 PM on June 15, 2016 [11 favorites]

In general, second-time (or later-time) mothers will spend a lot less time and effort judging you than first-time mothers. First-time mother groups can get super-toxic because everyone is very tense that there is One Right Way to do things and that choosing wrong will affect their children, and often feel implicitly judged just by people doing things different. In general, people on their second or later are a bit more relaxed, having seen all their grand ideals smashed by reality and by the fact that babies have their own opinions and that baby #1 and baby #2 were totally different people. I found it much easier to find communities when I ventured outside the world of first-time-mom groups (online and offline both).

You may enjoy the magazine Brain, Child (which I sometimes tell people is like if Wellesley had an alumni moms magazine).
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 4:03 PM on June 15, 2016 [4 favorites]

I agree that /r/beyondthebump can be helpful. (I also like the too-quiet /r/moderatelygranolamoms, but it sounds like less of your interest.)

I also find the birth month forums on What to Expect to be full of nonjudgmental support. I was skeptical, but they've grown on me.

Do you like podcasts? If so, I like Totally Mommy (except its name) (at least the older episodes; I started with the early ones to listen to her pregnancy-focused episodes while I was pregnant) -- lots of guests discuss how to balance motherhood with their careers, and there's a lot of real talk, e.g., about the week's hard moments. And the Dear Sugar episode on motherhood and guilt is great.
posted by slidell at 5:41 PM on June 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

I want to agree, hard, with all of the reddit suggestions and throw /r/parenting in there as well for when you age out of baby stuff. I've found /r/parenting particularly to be diverse, supportive, interesting, non-judgmental, and there are enough dads and other caretakers on there too that you'll get a full, nuanced view of parenting.

Otherwise, I kind of rounded up a bunch of women who said they were pregnant here on metafilter around the same time and I have found them to be incredibly supportive and all around incredible. I'm probably lean more toward the intensive motherhood side of things, but we're a diverse group and they regularly kick my butt and illuminate all sorts of truths for me and I'd be lost without them (hi, guys). So if you notice other parents on here talking about being knocked up, there's no reason you can't round them up and start your own group!

Finally, you need the how baby comic.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:23 PM on June 15, 2016 [3 favorites]

Archives of Offbeat Family might be interesting.

But I really agree that your fellow parents will probably not be as judge-y as you think -- parenting is brutal in a lot of ways, and most people are pretty accepting and supportive of what you do to get through it sanity intact.

Now, you know who is judge-y though? Non-parents. In my experience, people without kids or people whose kids are long grown up are the ones who judge my parenting the MOST. No question.
posted by EtTuHealy at 12:29 AM on June 16, 2016 [1 favorite], a UK site, is VERY popular and has a slightly alternative slant, IMHO.
posted by low_horrible_immoral at 3:16 AM on June 16, 2016 [2 favorites]

Grounded Parents!
As an atheist, I also like Parenting Beyond Belief.
Both of these sites have links to other great content.
posted by wwartorff at 8:39 AM on June 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

Then Comes Family is one site that I sometimes frequent. The vast majority of community members seem pretty level-headed there. (They do like their animated gifs a lot, though...jesus. That is my main irritation. I am so used to the Mefi plain text world!)

I'm also a part of a local parents' group on FB, though that is much quieter and more for getting rid of/swapping baby gear and kids clothes.
posted by medeine at 1:39 PM on June 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

I also want to suggest that in some cases, the pressure to be all-mother-all-the-time comes from the reality that, for some mothers, once they have an infant, that comes naturally ... and then it just feels inevitable and right. When (some) people talk about mothering that way, it's because that's what it felt like to them.

I had zero desire to be a parent, and discovered I was nearly full term, so was, um, about to be a parent. NOW. I had no interest in babies, their fluids, giving up my life, etc. None. Was totally opposed to it. Had an infant four weeks after diagnosis, and wow, I became a complete attachment parent. Co-slept. Exclusively breast-fed. Devoted heart and soul and body to the kid. And loved it beyond compare. It was my relationship with her that turned me this way, not societal pressure, and it was magic. I was at least as resistant as you to the whole concept, and was profoundly transformed.

I'm not tell you -- absolutely not -- that this will or should happen to you. I am telling you that it's amazing how much the experience is likely to control you, not the other way around. I was shocked. I'm a pretty strong person, and I was no match for this.

I guess I'd like you to be delightfully surprised if this happens to you, as I was, because as awful as I thought parenting would be, it was 180-degrees wonderful.
posted by Capri at 9:46 PM on June 16, 2016 [5 favorites]

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