It finally happened, friends. I got sucked into the mommy wars. In a decade of parenting, I have seen my share of mom-judgement, but I’ve been enjoying a refreshing, albeit surprising, reprieve from criticism when it comes to my parenting in the last couple of years. Maybe it’s that ten years of sleep-deprivation has left me oblivious to the critiques that are surely happening, or maybe it’s that people know when they see an exhausted mom wrangling four hooligans they’re better off keeping their comments to themselves. Either way, most of my experience with meanie moms has come from reading comments on social media (why oh why do I do that???), or clicking on Scarymommy’s less-than-polite mockeries of all things crunchy. Given this little break, my response to meanness thrown in the direction of my motherhood, especially when it comes from other moms, is somewhat rusty.
But ohhhh last week was my moment. In fact, I was served multiple moments. It was like God knew that I needed to check my pride and dished me some real gems in the form of passive-aggressive (and aggressive-aggressive) meanie moms. Bless it. I’ll save you the venting (my poor hubs had to deal with it all himself) and suffice it to say that apparently I need to work on my supervision, car-seating, and soothing practices with the wild ones. Poor dears, they’re clearly just not getting what they need.
At this point, you guys know me. I seldom find myself speechless (as my family laughs and says “replace seldom with never and you’ve got an understatement”). I remember the look of horror on my parents’ faces when I recounted a story of putting someone in his place when I was in college, and the less-than-endearing nickname “Pitbull in Heels” I earned in my first supervisory role. I’ve since recognized that you catch more flies with honey than vinegar, and for the most part, nastiness only begets more nastiness, and I’ve really worked on holding my tongue and choosing my arguments wisely. I like to think I take the high road more often than not, especially when it comes to having strongly differing opinions with other women. And I can do that mostly because I find myself coming from a place where I know the terrain- I understand where I’m coming from and where the other person is coming from, and I can wait and come back to the fight later when the emotions have settled a bit. No sense engaging in an argument where all we do is make each other angry.
The tough part about Mommy Wars is that they don’t take place on very convenient turf. In every instance that someone felt the need to unload on me last week, I was with my kids. Believe me, I had plenty of perfect one-liners ready to roll right out, but I just couldn’t justify spewing vitriol in front of little people who literally repeat everything they hear. The other truth- it hurt my feelings. Oy. I hate even saying that. I’m fairly immune to bullies, but it’s true. I don’t like much criticism anyway, but I can stomach it because I’m an adult, and I’m fairly comfortable with who I am and what I’m up to. But at this point, these kids are my only job. I’m not really doing anything else measurable in terms of my own success, so when someone tells me I’m failing, it doesn’t feel good, even if I know they’re wrong. And you can’t exactly cry into a glass of wine when you’ve got a toddler on your hip, a preschooler eating cranberries out of your hand, and two big kids fighting over who gets to unlock the car and sit closest to the air conditioner controls.
So what’s a mom to do in the presence of mom-bullies? Here’s my mantra:
- I’m a damn good mom. No really, I am.
- My kids are generally happy. And if they weren’t, it doesn’t mean I’m a bad mom.
- My kids are incredibly healthy. And if they weren’t, it doesn’t mean I’m a bad mom.
- My kids are smart, funny, and fun to be around. And if they weren’t, it doesn’t mean I’m a bad mom.
- We are all safe, and we are making it through another day without the universe coming to a screeching halt. And if it weren’t so, it still doesn’t mean I’m a bad mom.
- I’m a damn good mom.
And the clincher…what makes me a good mom? I’m good at parenting these children because they are the only children I’m trying to parent. I’m not trying to usurp anyone else’s authority with their children. I’m not invading another mom’s space to assume I know anything about the life she lives or how she’s making decisions. I don’t have to. She loves her kids and I bet she’s doing the best she can. Kind of like me. In your face, meanie moms.