Why “mummy wars” are like cheese on toast (stick with me on this).

Cheese on toast
Photo by Juliette Culver via Flickr.

A friend and her son popped over just before Christmas when my parents were also visiting for the day.

I started to make everyone cheese on toast for lunch (I know, I am an amazing hostess spoiling them with such a gourmet meal) and then the phone rang so my mum took over “cooking” while I answered the call (love my mum).
When I came back to finish up she said she had already put the cheese and butter on the toast and put it back under the grill.
Wait, what?
“Why have you put the butter on already?” I asked. “That’s not how you make cheese on toast. Everyone knows you melt the cheese and then put the butter on when you take it out.”

“No, it’s far better this way because it soaks into the bread,” she said.

“No, it’s better the proper way because it’s all melty but the bread isn’t soggy,” I said.

“I don’t know anyone else who makes cheese on toast like that, how can it be the proper way?” she added, standing her ground.

We carried on debating the merits of when it is best to put the butter on until we both sniffed the air wondering what that burning smell was. Argh, the toast! *

I was reminded of this “discussion” recently when reading a parenting blog post on a specific issue where the author was vehemently sure their way was THE ONLY WAY and not only left no room for differing opinions but basically said if you did it a different way you were a terrible parent. I’ve noticed a lot of topics are given this so called “mummy wars” treatment, including nappies (cloth v disposable), dummies, reins, co-sleeping, slings v carriers, organic food, screen time, weaning (puree or baby-led) and even elf on the shelf (seriously, Google “elf on the shelf hate”).

Being a relative newcomer to mummyhood, and especially as someone who struggled in the early months (oh, ok, who still struggles) I constantly searched the internet for help. I had a vague notion about the way I wanted to parent but finding articles telling me in no uncertain terms that I was DOING IT ALL WRONG (or worse, causing harm) made me even more distressed than I already was – especially when, as time wore on (and I got more confidence), I realised that wasn’t necessarily the case.

And you know what I wonder? A bit like arguing over the toast while it burns (Ah ha!), are we turning on each over issues that really, as long as you and your child are happy and healthy, are a matter of personal choice while big problems, such as poor ante/peri/post natal mental health care, are left by the wayside?

In the 16 months since I’ve been knocked sideways by parenthood, I’ve found we are often our own harshest critics. We don’t need other people to stand in judgement.

I am not saying we shouldn’t write about all parenting issues and have passionate opinions – otherwise I wouldn’t have started a parenting blog – and, as a passionate opinionated person, I believe “debate” is healthy. What got me through some tough times were the honest experiences people shared (the good, the bad and the ugly). The “this is what we did, this is what happened” not the “if you don’t do it this way you’re horrible”.

Just as I’ve discovered that cheese on toast tastes good no matter when you put the butter on, being a parent is a beautiful, at times challenging, gift that also often appears to have no right or wrong to it. Maybe it’s time we stopped fighting with each other or treating parenting as a competition and realised that by accepting our differences and being on the same team we can be even better? But, as I said, I’m new to all this, what do you think?

* I told my husband about the cheese on toast argument and his response was. “You don’t put butter on cheese on toast, you weirdo.” Yet another side of the story.

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12 thoughts on “Why “mummy wars” are like cheese on toast (stick with me on this).

  1. Lol i agree with your hubby on the cheese on toast issues *not the part about calling get you a weirdo though*.
    As for the rest of it you’re so right there is more than one way to be a good parent and every family is different. We shouldn’t be so quick to judge or criticise each other. xx

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Lol. *hugs*
        You know what the next time I have cheese on toast I definitely need to try and remember to put butter on it. *I definitely have to try this, as you never know I might actually like it*.
        Nope you’re not alone hon xx

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  2. Mommy wars exist because it is very important to some people to be “right” – which is just silly! There are many ways to do things that are all correct. That is why I can’t read many “mommy blogs” because 1. nobody’s life is that perfect, and 2. there is more than one way to do things. 😉

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    1. Yes, I don’t get the ‘my way or the highway mentality’ when it comes to parenting. It’s not as if the way I raise my child has any impact on them so why do they care so much? I’ve been in forums where people get really nasty over issues when there is no need.

      Thank you for taking the time to comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I know what you mean, Tara… I’ve had parenting discussions that have left me a wreck – I’m often floored by some people’s insistence that they are right & judging others is ok.
    As far as cheese on toast is concern I’d say ‘no butter’!
    Disscussion, done well, can be encouraging, healthy, fun, eye opening & helpful – if I said ‘butter (wherever you put it) is just plain wrong & you shouldn’t be let near a block of cheddar!’, I would be none of the above… and I’m sure you’d (quite rightly) not want to debate culinary preference again… parenting, or cooking, can be hard enough as it is, without being told you’re not doing it right. We should applaud parenthood, with all its challenges, hurdles, smiles & laughter, and leave judgment at the door – make cheese on toast how you think’s best – after all, the proof is in the eating 🙂

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    1. I completely agree, I’ve been shocked at how ferocious some people can be (even over relatively minor things) and it has put me off getting involved. Thanks for commenting and sticking to the toast theme. Another one for without butter. I think I need to give it a try 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. At the risk of sounding old and dispensing advice, the toast IS the burning issue!!! ( sorry – lame ‘Dad’ joke – couldn’t resist!) But seriously, you will always hear conflicting thoughts and opinions about the best way to do this and that, especially in the parenting field, and in the end, you should take what you think will, and does, work for you, listen politely and perhaps curiously, and ditch the rest, because your situation is unique and no one else can judge that better than YOU.

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    1. I love lame dad jokes 🙂 Great advice, Amanda. I think the issue for me was that her reflux and allergies knocked my confidence so much that I went looking for support and just found there was no give in opinion in many places. Thankfully I know a little better now.

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  5. I think we get most defensive when we’re a bit unsure about our decision or feel we’re in the minority. Like, sometimes I feel the need to heavily defend my use of a sling vs stroller, although I know that both have their merits (and we even own a stroller!!). It’s just that there are soo many strollers and so few sling-wearers where I live that I get the tendency to overargue the issue (luckily only in my head!)
    But yes, cheese on toast is yummy whatever way you make! You can do no wrong! (except use bad quality cheese)

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    1. Yes, you might be right there. I think the trouble is, people almost feel it is their duty to tell you you’re wrong when actually you aren’t wrong, you’re just doing things differently to them. Good on you for going your own way. Thank you for taking the time to comment. I’m looking forward to reading more of your blog.

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