The other day, a new friend and I were having a friendly chat, just getting to know each other. We covered all of the topics--family, faith, etc.--and in the middle of the conversation, she casually mentioned that she chooses to not vaccinate her children. We continued chatting about something else and I mentioned that our youngest daughter is getting tubes next week.
And we continued chatting and had a great conversation.
It was only later that I realized that she and I both brought up what some would consider to be "hot topic" issues in parenting (vaccinations and tubes for ear infections)...and we both breezed right over them. I didn't wag my finger at her for not vaccinating her kids (we choose to vaccinate ours) and she didn't condemn me for choosing tubes for Lydia (they would use chiropractics). Instead, our conversation focused on the things we have in common and the struggles that life has given us, and how we've chosen to handle those struggles. I've loved getting to know her and I can confidently say, she's my friend.
Even if I've never been to a chiropractor. Even if she has chosen to not vaccinate her kids.
If you've been a Mom for any amount of time, then you understand what I'm talking about. There seem to be these hot topic issues floating around the Mom circuit, and Moms find themselves forced to pick a side. The line has been drawn! Run to the side that reflects the decisions you make, and STAY THERE. See those Moms who share your side? Stay only with them. The Moms on the other side? They clearly don't know what they're doing and we must not only stay away from them, but we must also criticize them.
"You use cloth diapers? Gross!"
"You let your baby cry it out? Horrific!"
"You circumcise your child? Mutilation!"
"You give your baby Tylenol? Foolish!"
And so on and so forth. It's a fairly lame conversation, if you can even call it a conversation. It's more like a verbal beating, each Mom finding herself in a defensive position, clambering to explain why she has chosen to do things a certain way with her children.
At some point, we've found it okay to underestimate the intelligence of Moms who chose to do things differently than we do.
I know that some of these topics are personal and Moms have good reason to be passionate about them ... but is yelling about it worth sacrificing potential friendships? Is it worth insulting the intelligence of someone who thinks differently than you do? Just because we choose to vaccinate doesn't mean that we didn't research the option of not vaccinating. We did, and we chose to vaccinate. We have our reasons, for sure. And my friend? Her research led her to not vaccinate. And that's that. And she has her reasons, too.
What if we had cut each other off? What if, when she had mentioned the vaccination thing, I had immediately scoffed and marched away? I would have missed the part where she told me about God's guidance in her life. I would have missed her hilarious stories. I would have missed the rest of our conversation.
We don't have to agree on everything. But we don't have to underestimate each other, either.
At some point, Moms stopped talking about these things and started yelling about them instead. You can still have a civil conversation. And you know what?
YOU DON'T HAVE TO AGREE.
But you can still show grace. And enjoy the common ground you share.
Like being a Mom.
What are your thoughts? Do you think I'm way off?