Let’s get one thing clear—nobody on this entire earth is going to have the exact same life experience as somebody else. No two people are going to see eye-to-eye on everything. Why, then, do so many people have a “my way or the highway” attitude toward . . . everything?

As humans, we seek to find commonality with others. It helps us feel connected. We each feel that our way of doing things, our way of viewing the world, is the best. Desiring to enlighten others (or perhaps just bend their will) is a part of higher intelligence. We are a complex species. Usually, this is OK. We share what we know, what we believe, or what we truly feel is right. You know what is NOT OK?

Telling someone that what they know, believe, or feel is WRONG. We are all familiar with the mommy wars, which are funny in theory but very real and an unnecessary stress added to all mothers. These include:

Breastfeeding vs Formula (Breast is best! Breast is best!)

Babywearing vs Separation Parenting (If my child is always connected, he/she will develop separation anxiety when he/she goes to kindergarten).

Disposable vs Cloth Diapers (Cloth, it’s environmentally friendly. Plus, it comes in cute prints and I enjoy spraying poop all over my bathroom cleaning them.)

Free-Range Parenting vs Structured Discipline (My child is an angel. He/She never talks back or is naughty because we have every part of our day planned out to the last Cheeto. I mean, homemade granola crisp. Wait, what?)

It gets worse . . . did you know that there is a niche in the Mommy Wars that can only be described as BIRTH MOMMY WARS?

It is madness. Since placing in 2010, I have gone on to marry and have two more children—FOLKS, IT IS RIDICULOUS! I breastfed (sometimes it sucked. Heh heh, see what I did there?) and cloth diapered . . . until baby number two. I have a baby sling and backpack; I also own three strollers and a wagon. Some days we have everything planned and it’s exhausting. Other day, we are lucky if we get dressed or brush our teeth, and it’s exhausting. Motherhood is too exhausting to be worried about what kind of parenting is best.

It gets worse . . . did you know that there is a niche in the Mommy Wars that can only be described as BIRTH MOMMY WARS?

Visits vs No Visits (“We see each other every week and I babysit when they go on dates! Yay!”)

Email Updates and Pictures vs Mailed Updates and Pictures (“We prefer tangible letters and pictures. You know, so not all will be lost during the zombie apocalypse.”)

Communication via Whatever vs Communication via Agency (“It is more appropriate and sets healthy boundaries to not have direct communication.”)

My favorite? “My child’s adoptive family is better/worse than yours.” (Uhm, hi. We all know mine is the best.)

Do we realize how ridiculous this is when we are doing it? Probably not. Should we think a little more about how our openness and personal relationship with our adoptive couple could affect other birth mothers? Absolutely. Relationships change over time, and a birth mother who recently placed may feel jaded seeing an established relationship that has had time to grow and expand.

Grieving is not a competition either, folks. It happens often in support group settings, though.

Constant Crying vs Never Crying (“I cry because it is freaking healing, OK?!”)

Feeling the Need to Attend Counseling vs Not Needing/Wanting Counseling (“Nope, I’m good. Don’t want to talk.”)

Talking About Your Child vs Keeping it Private (“First rule of adoption: Always talk about adoption!”)

I will say this—I truly believe that every single person could benefit from counseling.

I have a close friend who has always been so strong and at peace with her decision to place. She placed four months before I did, and I remember feeling like I must have had a much more emotional experience than her, or she must have had no desire to parent, because I bawled at every support group meeting for five months. When I shared how I felt with her, I learned she was hurting just as much as me. As it turns out, we just processed and coped in different ways. We both have extremely healthy relationships with our birth children and their families, and we were fortunate enough to be able to support each other and continue to do so.

When you are grieving hard or upset at your adoptive family (it happens), don’t assume that everyone feels the same way about their families at that time. Let others be happy! When you are having a particularly joyful adoption season, don’t invalidate the grief another birth mother may be feeling. Let others be sad!

Basically it comes down to this: Your story is YOUR story. We all love our birth children, we all grieve, we all strive to find peace and joy in this journey. Helping others find that joy only comes when we accept that none of us think alike.