Motherhood is rough, and not just because being a mom itself is a tough job – even though it is…it really really is! – but also because you have to deal with other moms…
Lately I’ve been reflecting on what a friend wrote the other day on Facebook – which is that she’s continually amazed by the bonds of motherhood. It’s true – when you have your first child, you suddenly get initiated into this secret little club that you never knew existed before. You may have thought you were prepared, you may have planned and hoped and prayed for that moment, but until it happens, you just have no earthly idea what it’s truly about. Suddenly, your perspective and focus in life completely changes, and here you are. You’re a mother. You start to become closer to people you maybe weren’t so close to before. You start to drift away from some of your best friends, because they just don’t understand what your new life is all about.
Before Jensen was born, I was close with my friend Sierra – we’ve been best friends since we were 11 and we’d been through EVERYTHING together. Even though she lives in California and I live in Oregon, we still stayed close. It’s one of those friendships, you know – you don’t have to see each other or even talk to each other every day, to know that you’re family at heart. But we were also in completely different places in our life for quite a while. I was just getting married. She was having her second child. Now that I have my little boy, though, it’s amazing. I can text her, message her, call her, and we can relate. We’re in the same phase of life, and it’s such a comfort to know that there’s someone on the other end of the line who just gets it, no questions asked. We’re even closer than we were before, and it breaks my heart that we can’t just hop in the car, throw our kids in the backseat, and play together all day like we did back when we were teenagers.
On becoming pregnant, I joined a “bump group” on Facebook, full of other mothers who were all due around the same time Jensen was. It was a great community to be a part of. You’re with a group of moms who are all going through the same thing you are during pregnancy. You can complain and commiserate and share in your joy, all together. Once your babies come, they all start to hit their milestones around roughly the same period of time. Through this group, I learned things about teething, about wonder weeks and leaps, growth spurts, sleep regression – and found the answers for just about every question I’ve had so far as a new mom. “Why is my kid crying at 12 weeks?” Oh, because he’s hitting a leap. I learned all sorts of things that I never knew, and received support on days when I thought I was going to lose my mind.
It’s been a great resource. It’s also been a great place for friendship.
As moms we’re often isolated in our homes – if you’re a stay at home mom, you’re not always able to have conversations with other adults, or even people who can form full sentences, throughout the day. If you’re a mom who works, you’re at work during the day, and when you’re not at work you’re home with your kids. Either way, your social life kind of tends to go straight out the window. And what social life you do have is usually always centered around your children – sorry, we can’t go out for drinks, would you like to meet at the park instead? Sometimes it’s just nice to know that there are other moms on the opposite end of that screen that you can reach out to, and who will understand you.
So it’s true, the bond of motherhood is one that can really bring people together. And sometimes it really is amazing.
On the other hand, I’ve also come face to face with an unfortunate fact. Motherhood brings with it the kind of drama that you haven’t experienced since high school. I’m not immune to it. There are certain things that I see other moms do that makes me cringe. It makes me so uncomfortable I just want to run in the opposite direction. I want to scream, ‘YOU’RE A MOM, PLEASE ACT LIKE ONE!’ In some ways, I’ve become even more intolerant of other people’s parenting styles than I would really like to admit. Part of that comes with the territory. Once you’re a mother, you think about mothering. You think about how to raise your child to become a responsible member of society. You’re not just raising a little girl or little boy – you’re raising the woman or man that they will become.
But there is a way to handle those situations with tact. You can choose not to hang out with certain people – politely. You can share parenting articles and have mature discussions about your choices, and maybe change a few minds, or change your own.
However, some moms in these groups are not only judgmental, but catty, and snide. For a large group of women, life and motherhood is one big popularity contest. And it’s kinda sad. It’s sad because – for one – we’re just playing into that stereotype of women. You know that stereotype that you can’t get a bunch of women all together in a room without someone pitching a fit? And I really don’t like that. As adults, we should act like adults.
It’s sad because there are some people who truly believe that if someone is good, we have to be better, or else we’ll be worse. Where does that idea even come from?? Why can’t we all just BE? We should be secure enough in ourselves that we should be able to support each other. We should be able to lift someone else up, without feeling like that makes us less of a person, ourselves.
It’s sad, because by hurting these mothers, we are hurting their children – by depriving them of parents who are confident in their abilities.
I have never been so disappointed, so appalled, in my life, as I was the other day, watching GROWN WOMEN screen shot conversations and share them with each other to laugh at. To point fingers. To talk shit. To bash and belittle. And not just in their own little group, either. Like a lynch mob, they took over a personal Facebook post in order to say some of the rudest, most awful things to someone that I have ever seen. All for absolutely NO reason. Somehow, a nice young woman was deemed “weaker,” and they were the “strong.” But you know what? There’s no strength behind moms who bully. Because that’s exactly what it is – bullying. And I can’t stand for it. Treating someone like shit is actually one of the easiest things to do. Do you know what real strength is? Standing up for the truth. Treating people kindly no matter who they are.
We should be able to ask for advice without fear of judgment or retribution. As moms, we have enough to be worried about, we shouldn’t have to be worried about the mom mobs. The petty little cliques. And yet they exist. Whether you breastfeed, or formula feed, whether you circumcise or don’t. Whether you vaccinate, or not. Whether you co-sleep or you baby sleeps through the night in his or her bassinet. There are so many different choices to make, and it’s really kind of sad to me that these are dividers, instead of uniters.
We don’t all have to agree, or do things the same way, but we should be uniting in the common bond of motherhood. In the knowledge that no matter who we are, what age we are, where we live, or what we choose to do, we are all trying to do the best for our children. And that’s fucking hard. Instead of tearing each other down, bullying each other, using our most precious resource – time – to belittle someone and make them feel like a failure, we should be reaching out with a supportive hand. A knowing comment of “I’ve been there, I got through it, and you will too.” Of all the things we should be spending our days worrying about, it most certainly shouldn’t be some mom giving us a dirty look in the grocery store because our toddler won’t stop screaming, or some woman on the internet that we’ve never even met in real life, being a bully.
So even though none of the nastiness was directed at me that day, I left my bump group, because I’m a mom. And not only do I support other moms, I also just don’t have time for the kind of hate that the moms who bully thrive off of. I’ve got a husband to cuddle with, a baby to love, and a household filled with piles of laundry to attend to.
Recently, I’ve been lucky enough to create my own mom group, with another woman from Canada – who in all likelihood I will probably never get the chance to meet in real life – but who I would consider my friend. She shares the same values of support and kindness, and we’re creating a really good community. But it’s taken some time to find “our” people, and to weed out the rest. It’s taken countless hours on the internet, responding to messages from other moms who were literally in tears over the way they were treated by others.
At the end of the day, we are raising the future generation. We should be less concerned about what other people think of us, and more concerned about what we’re teaching our children – and what they are going to learn from us by watching the way we behave.
Think seriously about it, ladies. Do we want to teach our precious, happy little babies to be bullies? Do we want to teach them that it’s okay to treat people poorly just because we don’t know them, don’t agree with them, because they’re different than us in some way, or because they’re on the other end of a keyboard from us? No. We have a responsibility to them. And some of the moms I’ve encountered recently are failing miserably because they’re too caught up in their own little world of high school popularity contests. It’s time to cut the crap. Go hug your baby, kiss your husband, do your laundry, get your nails done with a friend in real life.
You know the saying, “save the drama for your mama?” Well don’t. How about this one instead – if you’re a mama, cut the drama.
Let’s face it, we’re getting too old for this shit.