A few weeks ago my five-year-old caught chicken pox. I updated my Facebook Status to say, “I’m pretty sure M has chicken pox, I’ve been trying to convince myself they’re spider bites to no avail. I know there was a reason we didn’t get her vaccinated and it seemed like a good one at the time, but not so much now.”
Well, that prompted a flurry of responses from people advising me to keep her strictly quarantined, to others celebrating my decision not to vaccinate and asking if they could come over for a chicken pox party and still others making pointed comments along the lines of “Well, at least I got my children vaccinated.”
The irony? We had delayed her vaccination, which wasn’t part of the routine set of vaccines when she was one, but she’d actually been vaccinated when she started kindergarten. I’d just forgotten, what with the juggle of a sick child and work. But she still got the pox. Albeit a less severe, shorter lasting version.
And then there was the time I reviewed “greener” disposable diapers and got roasted by the reusable diaper crowd. I naively didn’t realize what a loaded topic diaper choices were. I’m more than old enough now to know this, but you simply can’t please all of the people all of the time, and it showed me that no matter what I choose, someone’s not going to like it.
But why are we so quick to jump on those who don’t do things the way we choose to do them? My very unscientific theory is that the choices we make for our children around vaccines, diapers and childcare—and all the other choices we make every day for our kids—are big ones. We agonize over them, do our research and put lots of thought into the decisions that will affect the futures of these little people we’ve been entrusted with. But looking back at our own lives and our parents we know that no matter how thoughtful our choices are, some of them will probably be wrong. So when someone does things that we’ve chosen not to do, it can trigger our own insecurities around our choices and get our backs up. It makes it hard not to react, no matter how much we believe in a person’s right to choose.
In a perfect world we’d all firmly respect each family’s right to make the best choices for them and their circumstance, but gosh, some days it can be really, really hard.