experiences I have ever had in my life. It is also REALLY hard. From the moment
you find out that you are pregnant, or that your surrogate is pregnant, or that
your adoption got approved life stops being all about you. From that very first
moment you learn that you are going to be a mom EVERYTHING changes and you are NEVER the same person again.
Women become mother’s at all different stages of their lives
and every situation and child is different. There is no perfect formula for
raising kids. If there was it would be much easier to end all the motherhood debates and to crown a ‘Mother of the Year’. I probably still wouldn’t win, but that’s because I’m not perfect. One of my kids ate cereal without milk for breakfast this morning (not by his own choice I was out of milk) and the other one argued with me for an hour about wearing pants. (He doesn’t understand why he can’t just wear only his Spiderman underwear to Kindergarten since it covers his “peanuts”) So I have no delusions of motherly perfection.
The one thing I know about motherhood is we have to stop
judging each other!!!!
done it before (way more than I want to admit) and I know how easy it is. I
even know why you are doing it. Deep down you want validation that you are a
good mom, because like every other mother in the world you are scared you might be getting it wrong. The thing is you can’t calm your fears by making other mom’s feel bad it just doesn’t work that way. The only thing you really accomplish is dividing mothers into groups that feel they need to defend themselves instead of support each other.
I’m trying to change my way of thinking and be more supportive of other moms and I’m writing you this letter because I think you should join me. I’ve even come up with a plan for how we can stop judging each other.
Step One: We Need
to Start Being Supportive of Brutal Mommy Honesty
When you look at an exhausted, sick, or stressed out mom and
you shame her for wishing for one day off without her kids where she can sleep
in, read with her coffee, pee in privacy, and then take a two hour bubble bath
while sipping on a glass of wine and you tell her that you NEVER wish for a day
off because you love every moment with your kids and she is making motherhood seem like “less of a blessing” you are just making her feel like a crappy mom for no reason.
If you really love every single moment with your kids that’s
awesome for you. However, some moms have kids that have unpleasant moments. For example my five year old decided while using the bathroom the other day that he would clean the toilet for mommy. He used bleach cleaner and six brand new somewhat expensive towels. Some moms like me need a time out. We can’t appreciate every moment all the time like you can and that’s ok. Sometimes I have to hide in the closet with a glass of wine or my secret stash of chocolate to keep from being the mom that tries to sell her kids on Craigslist. If you don’t, it doesn’t mean you’re a better mom it just means you either have really smart well behaved children or you just have better stress coping skills.
When we are honest and we say we wish for a day off, that our kid is being a puke, or we complain because we think motherhood is a struggle every day and we are afraid we are failing please be supportive of that honesty because it was really really really hard for us to admit and someday your kids might do something that drives you crazy and you might need to share some brutal mommy honesty and we will have your back.
The way you do things is probably the best way for your child and your situation. I truly believe you are a good mom (see I’m already getting good at being supportive) but unless another mom asks for your advice don’t tell her that you think her way is wrong and never assume you know why she does things the way she does. (Just look at the word Ass – U – ME)
I learned this the hard way. I believe in breastfeeding. My oldest son wouldn’t latch on so I pumped for 12 months (brutal mommy honesty moment: this led to a lot of breakdowns because I felt like I was spending more time with my breast pump than my baby) and so I assumed if I could do that than there was no excuse not to breast feed. I was kind of a jerk about it. I once made a comment to a close friend that moms who formula fed were “lazy and self-absorbed
and would rather feed their kids processed crap than be a little inconveinced”.
I was forced to eat those words a few years later when this same close friend
sobbed uncontroablly in front of me and made a formula bottle for her newborn
because her breast milk never came in. She begged me not to judge her and I can’t tell you how shitty I felt for saying those cruel and unnecessary words. The
truth was I made an unfair assumption about moms who formula feed and it really did make me look and feel like an ass and it hurt someone I cared about.
Here is an example of assumptions moms make about each other compared with truths:
The working mom assumes she has it harder than the stay at home mom because she does everything the stay at home mom does and has a career. She assumes the SAHM spends most of the day watching TV and relaxing.
The truth is the stay at home mom doesn’t have it easier. She hasn’t spoken to another adult or peed without an audience in days. She actually cleans and cooks more than the working mom because her kids are at home all day and they destroy the play room five minutes after she cleans it and they expect her to feed them multiple meals a day (some of which they never even eat). She feels pressure to clean the same messes over and over because if someone finds her house messy they will think she doesn’t do anything all day. She loves getting to watch every milestone her two year old twin terrors pass and really loves her precocious four year old but she gets tired of being made to feel like she is ‘just a mom’ because deep down she is starting to question her own value. Her sweatpants have started to make feel frumpy, but every time she puts on ‘nice’ clothes the kids end up destroying them.
So when she gets on Facebook for the five minutes all three kids are actually napping hoping for some adult interaction and finds a meme a working mom posted about how SAHM’s sit at home all day eating bonbon’s and watching Ellen it makes her feel sad and she lashes out.
The stay at home mom assumes the working mom has it easier because she gets time away from her kids. She assumes the working mom enjoys the personal time away from her children.
The truth is the working mom doesn’t have it easier. She feels so much guilt when she misses the milestones that the SAHM gets to see. She may have chosen her career and she might even enjoy it but she still feels really sad when she gets stuck at work and has to watch her sons first school play from a bad cell phone recording. She might get to get dressed ‘nice’ for work, but more than once she has given a boardroom presentation with baby spit up on her suit jacket and her baby weight makes her feel frumpy too. She feels like she has to keep her house clean and stay up all night making homemade cookies for the school bake sale because she’s afraid if she doesn’t her kids will think she doesn’t love them as much or can’t take as good care of them as the moms who stay home. She doesn’t get to take fancy lunch breaks with her co-workers because she spends them in the bathroom of her office attached to her breast pump.
While she is pumping next to the toilet and decides to get on Facebook to divert her attention from the humility of it all, she finds a meme the SAHM posted about how much money the SAHM should be making because she
does so much more than someone who works outside the home and it makes her feel sad and she lashes out.
Step 3: We Need to Create a Supportive Mommy Community
Just imagine if our fictional mothers above got together for
some brutal mommy honesty and told each other how they live and how they really felt. They could actually stop judging each other and start supporting each
other. They would find out that they really are not that different. It might make
motherhood a little easier for both of them.
I know a lot of the time when we are being judgmental we don’t
even realize it. When you wrote the article that made me write this letter you
were probably frustrated and maybe a little hurt that SAHM’s would compare raising children to having a job. You thought you were trying to get mothers to see that raising children should be looked as a gift and not a chore. You are a lot like me. You work outside the home and you miss your child when you are not with them. You are jealous of the fact that SAHM’s get to spend every moment with their child and you don’t want to see or hear them complaining about how hard that is. The thing is that you came off as bitter and judgmental and managed
to divide mothers instead of creating a supportive mommy community. There are multiple mothers arguing with each other right now on your blog and you started that, you stirred the pot with your ‘opinion’.
Again I urge you to try to join me in being a less judgmental
mom. You could really use your platform as a mom blogger to help
mothers feel better about themselves instead of causing more arguments and
division you could create a supportive mommy community where we could have
brutally honest mommy talk and feel better about ourselves. Because the truth
is the majority of mom’s love their kids more than anything and we are all just
trying to do the best with our own situations.
A judgmental mommy who is trying to change
Tiffany O’Connor is a mom to two amazing, energetic, and fearless boys. She is married to her high school sweet heart and has three college degrees. Her hobbies include watching TV shows about zombies, hiding in her hot tub with a bottle of champagne, and writing all about her misadventures parenting in a “man cave” at #Lifewithboys.