Will you deliver "naturally?" This in itself is a whole other realm of categories. Natural can mean a baby will make its way into the world through a vagina. But, it also means with or without pain medications, forceps, episiotomies, other interventions, etc. Will you use a midwife, OB or Maternal Fetal Specialist, or Guru? Will your baby be born in a birthing center, hospital or at home? Degrees of motherhood are assigned depending on your answers, your pain tolerance, your pelvic size. And forget the C-Sectioners (like me) we are in a category all by ourselves. Apparently "unnatural" and surgical means direct separation from the women who "birthed" their babies.
Once the baby is out into the world and takes its first breath a new set of standards begin. Is your child a preemie? Does it need breathing help? NICU stay? Or do you have a "healthy, full termer" that goes home in 24 - 48 hours?
Will you bottle feed? If so, will you use expressed breast milk or formula? If you are nursing, do you nurse exclusively? Use bottle sometimes? Use formula to supplement?
Do you use cloth diapers? Disposable diapers? Hybrid diapers? Or a combo of all of the above?
Even sleep separates mothers. As if sleep deprivation is not hard enough. When you actually do get 5 minutes to close your eyes, it REALLY matters to the world HOW you sleep. Do you sleep in your own bed and your baby is in it's own bassinet or crib? Do you share a bed with your baby and/or other family members?
Do you hold baby for all 24 hours of the day? In a sling? In your arms? If you are not holding the baby, who or what is? Different categories are assigned based on your answers and which crowd you are with at the moment you answer. If you are with the Co-Sleepers, you are placed VERY low down on the Mommy Value List if you say your child sleeps in its own bed at an assigned time and sleeps soundly without interference from you. If you have given said child a pacifier to help them do so, your position is lowered even more. If your child sleeps through the night soon after being born, Lord help you around the other Moms, it could get nasty! If you put your child on its belly to sleep, expect gasps and watch yourself because you may be targeted by all kinds of Mommy Groups.
Once you have figured out how baby will eat and sleep and into what they will poop, next is what will you do with that baby? Will you be a stay at home mom? (Otherwise known as a SAHM.) Or will you work? If you are a SAHM, will your child be in playgroups, activities, and learning to read before age 1 or will you hang out all day while your child eats and watches TV? Can there be a combo of both? Probably, but you may not admit it in mixed company depending on which group you are with. Public Enemy Number One is the mother who lets her baby watch TV. So beware!
If you will work outside of your home, will your child be in daycare? Full time? A center?
In-home, etc? This realm is vast and the questions I can imagine are endless. Since I am a SAHM, it is not my territory and therefore I will not venture into categorizing further. But, you get the idea.
Once baby is fed, changed, and signed up for activities or daycare, the next category is: are you a young mom or old mom? The age range changes as your group does. Are you single or married? What is your socioeconomic background? How much education have you received? How about your partner? Is he educated? Does he work? What does he think about all matters? And do you care? Your placement in Mommy Categories changes based on these answers, so think it through before you speak.
Public activities call into question the achievements Baby has made for his or her age. Do they crawl? Walk? Talk? Read? Count? Feed themselves? Where do they poop?? How often?
Your mothering abilities will be judged according to your answers, again think carefully. Do you potty train or toilet teach? Seriously some people care about this in a MAJOR way!
For the first 3-4 years of Baby's life, language distinctions like this will be a big deal!!
If you have made it through all the levels of infanthood with your self-esteem still in tact-good for you!! Yeah!! But, be prepared. Toddler years will be more challenging to you and your mothering position in society. How will you discipline your Darling? Will you use time out or set up a nest for breaks? Will you use the word No or will that be too traumatic? Again be careful how you answer. This will dredge up every emotional issue from everyone's childhood that you can imagine. You will be judged and critiqued and corrected by people you know and people you don't and given silent stares by other Mommies. These stares will NOT be subtle and will convey messages that you will not miss. Its doesn't matter which answers you give, someone will always oppose them and will let you know.
What will your toddler eat? How much pesticide will be in the food and bath products you choose? Will you allow them to eat fast food (most moms will not admit to this, but check their garbages or cars and you will find evidence to the contrary) When will they be done with that bottle?? Do they know how to drink from a cup? Are you STILL Nursing? Can you nurse a toddler that has teeth? Just know that if your child is over 12 months of age, your answers to these questions can and will be held against you. Your mothering abilities will be discussed and judged accordingly. By everyone.
With that said, I wish you the best. I hope as you navigate your way through the Mommy Realm you be fortunate enough to meet Kindred Spirits as I have. I have been so very blessed by good friends and family members that I can count on for support as I figure out which categories I fit in and which values are most important to me and my growing family. I feel like I have been given a protective cocoon to grow in with a wonderful social circle. And it seems like just when I need it most a new Soul will come into my life or an old Friend will reappear and we will discover how much we have in common. I always gain so much insight from these Kindred Spirits and find so much inspiration to be the best Mama I can be no matter what categories I have chosen to fit into (or not). I always try to keep an open mind because you never know what you can learn from other Mommies. When we can look past the labels and relax enough to be ourselves and not judge what the other Mommies are doing, we can truly see that at the core kids are kids and Mommies are Mommies and all the rest just doesn't matter.