When I became a mother five years ago I naively assumed that having a child meant a woman had grown up. Gone would be the petty insecurities, comparisons and judgements that women so cruelly share during the teenage years and beyond.
I was wrong.
Two children, two cities and many play dates and hours at the park later, I’ve made some wonderful mom friends. I’ve also been blown away by the cattiness and cruelty of some women who are permanently suspended in a junior high, mean-girls mindset, even with their own children watching and listening.
The sidelong glances, whispers and blatant online bullying I’ve seen encouraged me to start a conversation with a group of my own mom friends. The stories each woman told me were sometimes hard to believe but they are all true.
- That mom you shun at the park because she’s single and living with her parents? Don’t judge her. She’s going to university full-time to create a good life for her son. In the blink of an eye you could be her.
- That mom who is losing her patience with a screaming child in the grocery store line-up? She had two hours of sleep last night because her children are sick and teething. Don’t roll your eyes at her. Help her out. You will be her one day, guaranteed.
- That mom who puts her five-year-old in diapers at night? Don’t judge her. Her child has a severe illness. Sleep is far more important than night-time potty training. She also has to pour salt on her child’s food to help with kidney function so don’t judge her for that either.
- That mom that picked up McDonald’s for her child on the way home? Don’t judge her. 99% of the time she feeds her child good food. She’s tired. She’s had a long day.
- That mom who took a nap when you were visiting and didn’t cook you supper?Don’t judge her. She’s suffering from a postpartum mood disorder and is just trying to cope and care for her children.
- That mom who lets her kids sleep in her bed? Don’t judge her. She’s creating security and comfort that will last a lifetime. She knows little-kid-snuggles only last for a little while.
- That mom who stopped breastfeeding too soon? Remember when you told her how sad it was that her child would get sick and die on formula? Remember when you told her that she and her baby wouldn’t bond? Are you for real? She had thrush, was on two different meds to increase her milk supply and had multiple lactation consultants. It didn’t work. She moved on and you should too.
- That mom who is still breastfeeding when her child is two? She’s happy. Her child is happy. Leave them alone and stop staring.
- That mom who is too rushed to say hello at preschool drop-off? Her son has a life-threatening illness. She is so focused on his care that she doesn’t even see you. Don’t judge her.
- That mom who can’t get her children to sleep well? She’s tried everything. She’s read all the books and gone to the seminars. You may be an expert on your own four children but you know nothing about her two.
- That mom you judged because she had a C-section while you had a natural birth? Even though you told her she didn’t try hard enough and is a failure, she’s pretty grateful that her child is alive.
- That mom who is too easy on her kids and lets them get away with too much? She grew up afraid of a parent and refuses to repeat the pattern in her own family.
- That mom who had too many kids too close together? Don’t judge her. Her children are happy and loved. On the other hand, don’t judge the mom who only had one child either. You don’t know the reasoning behind it and it’s none of your business.
- That mom who looks after her children 24/7 and (gasp!) doesn’t work outside of the home? Maybe she actually likes it. Maybe she’s doing what is best for her kids. She may even blog about it.
- That mom who struggled with infertility for years and finally got pregnant with IVF? Don’t judge her. You have no idea of the thoughts and pain that go into such an experience.
Things are rarely as they seem. I’ve grown a pretty thick skin when it comes to being judged by others for my parenting decisions. I do my best to accept that everyone makes different decisions for their families. Could you do the same? Most of us are our own worst critics anyways.
Remember, it’s not about us. It’s about our children. Let’s cut each other some slack.
We’re supposed to be the grown-ups.
First published on The Purple Fig (http://www.thepurplefig.com).
Also published on The Huffington Post.
According to Ms.Manori, women who blog strictly about motherhood are “[depicting themselves] as a crazy mother who is obsessed with canning baby food or the latest gizmo for their child’s nursery. Also, they probably don’t think that others see them as living in a bubble with no other interests than raising their bubble children.”
News flash Ms.Manori: We don’t care what you or anyone else thinks. We are confident enough in our very conscious decisions to raise our children and discuss raising our children in whatever ways we like.
It appears to me that Ms.Manori typed up her anti-mommy-blogger post just to get some hits on her own blog. Actually, I’m not sure why she calls herself a feminist, because she’s telling a huge group of other women that they are doing it all wrong. The Oxford English Dictionary defines a feminist as “an advocate or supporter of the rights and equality of women.” Ms.Manori is not advocating or supporting anyone in this post. (See Momastery & Parenting, Illustrated With Crappy Pictures for some examples of high quality mommy bloggers.)
She also demeans men by saying “I cringe at the thought that a man will read these blogs, in turn reinforcing antiquated ideas of women in the home.” I’m not sure what kind of men she hangs out with, but the men in my life value, respect and admire me for putting my career on the back burner for a few years to raise up two confident, kind, and giving members of society. My posts about the ins and outs of my crazy days at home with two little ones make the men in my life laugh and smile.
Now that I’ve gotten all of this off my chest, perhaps I will go and can some organic baby food. Once I’m done that I will sit and google “gizmos” for my child’s nursery. On second thought, I’ll just go to sleep. That’s the only thing I obsess about these days.
I had a birthday this month and suddenly realized I’m in my mid-thirties. I’m not sure why I just noticed.
Perhaps because I have two very, very busy children and I’ve slept through the night only a handful of times in five years.
Maybe because I was selling a house in one province and moving to another (during a blizzard) while six months pregnant, with no job lined up for my husband and no new place to live. Kind of busy.
It hit me when I was getting my hair cut and my hairdresser’s face was smack-dab above mine in the mirror, under the flourescent lights. I was fascinated by the smoothness of her skin. There were no dark circles under her eyes and no lines on her forehead. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have issues with aging (I’m ONLY 36, after all) but I was taken aback when it dawned on me that we were different.
I’m not that girl in her twenties anymore. That’s fine by me. Not that young, but not very old; standing outside the gateway to the entryway to the hallway of middle age.
Because I’m into lists lately, here are a few reasons why I think being 36 is better than being 26:
- I go to bed without washing my face and don’t wake up with skin like a hormonal teenager.
- Two words: Granny panties. Just kidding. Maybe when I’m 46.
- If I’m too tired to smile the little lines around my eyes do it for me. I’m finally trying out all the sample tubes of eye cream and concealer that have been collecting under my bathroom sink for ten years.
- I don’t care that my fashion sense is pathetic. Why read Glamour magazine when I can sleep? If my daughter can wear pink and red together so can I.
- My hair is thicker and fuller than ever. Never mind that the fullness is due to handfuls of it falling out after my daughter was born; the regrowth is wiry and white (!), but there’s a heck of a lot of it.
- I listen to my younger friends’ tales of dating woe as I curl up in my moccasins with a good book, my children sleeping peacefully upstairs and husband tap-tapping on his computer in the family room.
- No excuses are needed to go to bed at 9:30 on a Friday night. Or 8:00 on a weeknight.
- I can act all mom-ish when I need to and
yell atadmonish the mean kid in the park but still be crazy and set up our camping tent in the playroom and roast marshmallows in the fireplace.
- That random chin hair that appeared when I was 26? Now it’s white and barely visible if I forget to tweeze it. 😉
What do you think? Do you like your thirties (or forties…or eighties) better than your twenties? Why?
NOTE: When asking my hilarious group of online, cross-Canada momma friends for input on this post, many of them cited bedroom activities as prime reasons of why 36 is better than 26. Since this blog is PG-rated (my 88 year-old grandma is a follower!) I will have to leave those suggestions up to your imagination. Thanks Jaclyn, Joanna, Erica, Marianne & Isabelle.
If you think I’m even a little bit funny, check out this Top 25 list at Circle of Moms. Click the link above, scroll down to Murphy Must Have Had Kids and vote each day until February 13th.