The Mommy Myth
I don’t know who originally wrote this, but the screenshot was posted in a Facebook group, and reposted by many of my friends last week:
You’re probably having one of two reactions right now:
1. Your back’s up and you’re angry at her judgmental attitude, or
2. You can kinda see her point of view
And it’s ok to land on either side of that fence, it really is. In fact, I’m going to raise some tempers a little more and say that what she’s said here isn’t actually that bad. I mean, here’s the deal: parenting experiences might be similar, but none are exactly the same. Even the reactions to the post are wildly different. Some people have hellish first weeks with newborns, while others are shouting about how the first few weeks are the “honeymoon” phase. If our experiences are that different, how can we really expect to have the same reactions to anything in parenting? We’re all different, our babies are all different, and the ways we interact are all different, too.
The only things I’m an expert in are my own experiences. I know my kids, I know what we went through, but I’m no parenting expert beyond my own experiences. And honestly, neither is anyone else. (Although I did more than my fair share of judging before I had kids. Haaaaaa, stupid me.)
We curse the mommy wars, the judgments, the bullying, the random unsolicited advice, and then we turn around and name-call, judge and mock.
Does judging the judgmental parent make us better somehow?
(I feel like I’m a snake eating my own tail here, but hear me out. . .)
I’ve read all the comments in response to that anonymous woman’s post, and most are rife with, “Wow, her life sure is going to change!“, “What a bitch!“, “Ha ha ha, karma will show her how wrong she is!“, and more negative reactions. But really? What if that’s her reality? My mom swears I was the easiest infant. Our home was always clean, meals were always healthy and home-made, laundry was always done. Her reality was certainly not like my own.
When my daughter was born, she was literally attached to me for more than a year. She never slept away from me, she nursed constantly, and I felt like I could never keep up with the housework. I was a mess. And I stayed that way for years. My laundry mountain was a point of embarrassment and wonder, my dishes were always piled high in the sink, my floors could darken socks, and I was never put together myself. I felt like I was just blindly stumbling through the first years of parenting while others had all their sh*t together.
Things are different now that my kids are six- and nine-years old, but maybe for you, they won’t be. Maybe this is still the trenches and you’re struggling to tackle Laundry Mountain, or maybe you don’t have time to clean or cook meals, or do whatever else someone on your Facebook timeline is doing this week. That’s ok.
Maybe you do find the time to workout six days a week and pack sculpted lunches for your kids, and sex up your partner and keep the floors clean. And that’s awesome, also.
But your experiences are not mine, and hers are not his, and all of them are a-ok.
Peanut butter in the curtains is only a problem if you think it’s a problem.
It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks, because they get to make the choices about what works in their house, not yours. I know we really want someone who seemingly “has it easy” to feel the hard hits of parenting, but isn’t it ok if this woman lives this reality? Maybe she’s got it under control, and wouldn’t it be nice to think that that can really happen? But even if it doesn’t continue, are we really helping by jumping on the bandwagon smashing her down? She might not understand the challenges we’ve had just yet, but does all the mocking, bashing, and name-calling help? Or how will she feel when she looks back on that post if she hits those rough trenches?
I remember lamenting the early days of parenting when sleep was rare, and I felt so disoriented. People would laugh and say, “Just you wait till she’s a toddler!“, and it felt so defeating. If it was hard now, how would we survive the next phase? And now that my kids are six- and nine-years-old, people brush off our struggles and warn us of the teen years. I mean, come on. Is every stage one-upped in crappiness by the next?
I think if we really want to end the parenting wars and competitive nature of this gig, we need to recognize that we’re all just doing our best. Responding to negativity with more negativity doesn’t educate anyone, it just adds fuel to the fires. Letting that new mom know that hey, awesome, she’s got her sh*t under control but that’s not the case for everyone, would be so much more helpful. Empathy comes with life experience, and hearing about other experiences, and truly understanding the challenges and struggles other people have.
The great Mommy Myth is that anyone out there has universal answers. We’re all just fumbling through it, and whatever it is you’re doing is just fine.
Judging the judgmental helps nobody.