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May 03, 2016

Let us celebrate motherhood this year by putting inane mommy wars to rest. Too often we shame, blame, and criticize other mothers in the name of championing what is best for their children, all while disregarding that tearing down another woman is never in the best interest of her family . There is a place for intervention and education (most obviously, in cases of abuse and neglect), but let us acknowledge that in the vast majority of cases mothers are making the best choices they can for their families, and should not have to defend their reasoning at every turn. This year, regardless of how our ultimate choices may differ, let us stand in mutual trust, support, and solidarity. Let us recognize one another’s wisdom, intuition, courage, gentleness, and fierceness. Happy Mother's Day, mamas! I salute each and every one of you .

Namaste to the mamas who birthed their babies in any way . You are not obligated to share the details of your experience with anyone, but if you do want celebrate or process childbirth I will listen without judgment or a sense competition. Namaste to the mamas who met their children another way . You are no less a mother than any other, and I acknowledge the different but parallel challenges you faced to get here.

Namaste to the mamas who are able to breastfeed and love every moment. I revel in your joy. Namaste to the mamas who are able to breastfeed and hate every moment. It’s okay to feel that way; you are not alone. I support you in continuing for three more days or for three more years; the choice is yours. Namaste to the mamas who choose to feed with formula . That is up to you alone, and you are not obligated to defend your decision to me; I trust that you know what is best for you and your family. Namaste to the mamas who are unable to breastfeed . It is okay to feel a sense of grief (or, equally, a sense of relief); please know you are enough, you are worthy, and you are whole; being fed and loved is what is truly best for your baby.

Namaste to the mamas who work because they need the money . I honor you for responsibly providing for your family in the ways they need it most. Namaste to the mamas who work because they simply want to . You are no less a mother for doing so; choosing a fulfilling, balanced lifestyle is the best example you can set for your children. Namaste to the stay-at-home-mamas . Western society systematically undervalues care providers; know that you are setting an important example too. When people ask you what you do, never respond that you are “just” a stay-at-home mom. Namaste to the mamas who advocate for women’s rights in the workforce (who, themselves, may currently be working or staying home). I bow deeply to you for your efforts to tear down obstacles for my daughter and for me.

Namaste to the mamas who sleep in a family bed . I trust that you are educated about how to do so safely. Namaste to the mamas whose babies slept in a crib in their own room from day one . Equally, I trust that you are educated about how to do this safely. Namaste to the mamas who sleep train and namaste to the ones who would not dream of doing so . You will get no judgement or unsolicited advice from me; it is challenging enough to agree on sleep strategies within your own family without commentary from outsiders.

Namaste to the mamas who have all the latest apps, DVD’s, and battery-powered devices to entertain and educate their children. Equally, namaste to the mamas whose children are more familiar with wooden toys, books, and the great outdoors . Despite all “research suggests…” and “back in my day…” statements that get thrown back and forth, reality is that there is a lot that we simply do not know. It is unethical to do rigorous research around specific parenting tactics and our children are growing up into a world that is drastically different than ever before. Whatever you choose for your children, I trust your intuition, mama!

Finally, namaste to the mamas who do not have the support, education, or resources to make the best choices they can for their families . My heart aches for you. How can I stand for you? How can I empower you? How can I change the world for you?

It is not by engaging in a vicious mommy war with you, I know that much. The world is challenging enough for women to navigate already without us undermining one another. We should not be trying to limit other women’s choices, we should be fighting for other women’s freedom. Instead of getting distracted by petty arguments, let us begin a dialog about how we can elevate one another: How can we stand for each other? How can we empower our daughters? How can we change the world for them so that if they become mothers, they have the support, education, and resources to make the best choices for themselves and for their families?

Barbie Levasseur

Written by Barbie Levasseur , Bay Area writer, yoga teacher, and mom.

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