They don’t come very often, but there are days I would rather gouge my eyes out with a teeny tiny baby spoon than to deal with one more tantrum, one more whiney voice, one more sleepless babe, one more “Why?”, one more bout of “I’m thirsty” or “I need to potty” for the umpteenth time at bedtime. The monotony and redundancy of my everyday battles intensifies on those days and I find myself envying working mothers and crying out for the day to be over. What I wouldn’t give for even 5 minutes of quiet time? I yell a lot, I lose my patience and, well, I feel like less of a mother. Like I somehow don’t appreciate my little blessings enough and am certainly not worthy of the title. A complete failure.
And those are also the days that another mom kicks me when I’m down, stomps over me and rejoices at my inadequacy. What ever happened to the “we’re all in this together” attitude? (Please know that I’m not trying to pass judgment here or even sound rude – I am merely making an observation and hopefully trying to instigate some change. As a matter of fact, I need to heed my own advice.)
For the most part, I think I’m a good mom. Well, maybe an okay mom. I forewent my career to stay at home with my kids; I nursed them past a year (23 months and 18 months, respectively); I feed them healthy whole foods; I did long-term co-sleeping; I read to them and sing them songs; I teach them about God and their ABC’s; I delayed vaccinations; I do attachment parenting; I don’t go on vacations (or even date nights for that matter) without my kids; I sacrifice quite a bit for the sake of my kids (most of the time unnecessarily). (But I never do feel like a martyr. I do it mostly with a happy heart, because I want to. Not to prove anything to anyone or even to myself.) Am I the best mom I could be? No, there’s always room for improvement and my selfishness sometimes gets in the way.
Does that make me a better mom than you? Absolutely not! I do for my family what I believe is best for my family. It may not be necessarily what is best for yours, but I’m not trying to compare myself to you.
There are moms that enjoy working away from home, and couldn’t see themselves staying at home. Some that don’t mind missing those little first moments even. I know moms who don’t nurse at all either by choice or by circumstance. Some who personally swear by the cry-it-out method; some who won’t co-sleep if their life depended on it; some who go through PPD and can’t seem to connect with their babies; and some who let their kids keep the pacifier until they were 7 years old. Does that make them less of a mother?
I also know moms that tandem nurse until their kids are 4 years old, homeschool 8 children, are human pacifiers, appear to be super moms in every way possible, never seem to loose their tempers, never spank, and keep a tidy house. Does that make them better moms?
Just because someone appears to be super mom, she’s definitely not. What I’ve learned is that appearances are not everything, and where something seems abundant, there is always something else seriously lacking. For instance, the mom who seems to have it all together and keeps her home spic and span may wish she had spent more time playing with her kids. (I speak from experience here.)
What works for one’s family may not work for someone else. To each their own, right? At least I thought so, but apparently it’s not.
I think that the worst enemies of women have always been other women. We judge, compare, gossip, point fingers, close off, feel inadequate, feel high and mighty and have a know-it-all attitudes. And worse, we bring other women down when we should be building each other up in this hard time in our lives. It’s almost like high school all over again. (Anyone watch the movie “Mean Girls?”)
On top of that, when one of us offers up friendly advice, we get defensive and think she is trying to meddle in our private lives. (How dare she! She doesn’t even know anything about my family, so why would she even give her opinion when not solicited?) When someone offers me advice, I try not to take it personally. I know they mean well, even if it’s not anything I would do with my own family, so I usually politely say “thank you” and do my own thing without hurting anyone’s feelings. But yet so many of us women get really angry at the unsolicited advice. Why? (First of all, when you complain in a public forum like FaceBook or out loud to your friends and acquaintances, just know that you will inevitably get a piece of advice or two.)
Please stop competing with one another. Stop judging. Stop being jealous. Stop feeling inadequate. Stop thinking about who is and who isn’t a better mom. Stop the gossip and definitely stop bringing each other down.
If someone strives to be a Susie Homemaker and you think she is impeding the progress of the feminist movement that women have fought so long and so hard for over the last several decades, then just stop being so judgmental and let her be a so-called “rebel.” If you think that someone is less of a mom because she divides her attention between a successful career, a husband and 4 kids and still feels the need to have “me” time, then you’ve got it all wrong, too. One way is not better than the other.
I guess what I’m trying to say is to lighten up. Help each other. Pray for each other. Make each other smile in times of burden. Focus on the positives. Remember that FaceBook does not take tone of voice into account, so try to be more accommodating and lean towards thinking that the intentions were good. I even urge you to offer up advice to other moms, but only if it’s sincere and with an offer of a shoulder and a hug.
Let’s try to be the generation of women that encourage rather than discourage for a change.