This week I’d like to talk to you about the War on Mothers and those brought about by fellow mothers. I know this is a common topic, especially among woman writers, but today I’m sharing my thoughts too. Lucky you.
Here’s what I know, and have discovered: Women like to be right.
We do, we really do.
Women like to be right. Women like to offer advice. We like our advice to be right and above all, for our advice to be followed–by our spouses, our children, by anyone we can get our hands on. And it’s not because we’re bossy, it’s because we are proactive people–most of the time.
We spend our days multi-tasking, trouble-shooting, and generally figuring out ways to remove errors, improve the day-to-day efficiency of our families and work, and find a way to properly motivate our spouses to put their shoes back where they belong–without nagging.
We are family cheerleaders. We are go-getters, solution-creators and sock-finders.
And so we thrive on problem solving. We thrive on helping others, giving back, dissipating a crisis and dare I say it, being right.
We have an innate, evolutionary need to know our advice is necessary. It’s a part of our existence. And let’s face it, if you’re anything like me–which is to say you spend 100% of all free time thinking about planning, strategizing and problem solving whatever current issue is at the top of the list–then the need to know our advice is necessary is part of how we function day in and day out.
So yes, the Mother Wars.
I’m going to share with you a piece of advice I have decided to embrace lately.
I don’t give a rat’s you-know-what, what you think.
The problem with the Mother Wars is women assume other women want their advice, and get upset to find out we do not. But we’re women–we don’t want any advice, because we’re the advice givers.
Speaking personally, if I wanted your advice I’d ask for it. It’s not that we don’t want advice, it’s that we’re so exhausted from the everyday struggles of parenting, that the advice, the help, the criticisms–no matter how genuine–are not helpful. It simply adds to our stress and angst. And when we do not take the advice, we are judged. I think I speak for most mothers when I say the judgement is the last bit of stress we want to deal with at the end of the day, after getting our crazy kiddos to sleep.
In an age where we are bombarded by technology there is very little advice that we have not heard, whether through our own research, the countless number of parenting books on our bookshelves, or through the advice of family, friends and most often from pure strangers.
And so I think that goes for us all. Stop judging, stop nagging, stop “just saying,” stop assuming, stop recommending, stop observing, and stop suggesting.
Here’s the thing about having children. Having children–especially in my case where I have a toddler–is 100% all about figuring out how to survive the day. It’s about figuring out how we’ll survive each other. There are days where I’m not entirely convinced this is possible.
And that’s where The Beau comes in and his support, but he also works full-time and is a full-time graduate student. So really, 85% of my day is spent without my spouse and spent figuring out how to survive, answer client emails, not cause permanent damage to my child later in life, and trying to embrace each moment. I get it–I’m a parent and being a parent means loving your child and loving every second with them. But can I just say, many of those seconds totally suck.
And so, to be an awesome mom and embrace motherhood and the moment, I take my child out for a biscotti and a cup of coffee for me. But she doesn’t want to sit where I recommend. She wants to sit outside at the table that is directly in the sun, on the East Coast in summer, in 95 degree weather when there is 85% humidity. I calmly and rationally tell her “No.” I threaten a time out. I threaten to take away her Lambie and her biscotti. I try to bribe her with a muffin. I do whatever I can to get her to stop arguing with me and do what I say–so we can enjoy the moment together.
Naturally, she doesn’t comply and instead her tantrum heightens. This results in me being so mad that I pour my coffee out, I throw her biscotti away, and I carry her sideways down the street and back home. I am so furious. All I wanted to do was be a wonderful mother, and maybe use our time together at the bakery to catch up on email on my phone. After all, I am constantly juggling working from home full-time with motherhood full-time. Both demand more than 100% from me and neither party is winning. In fact, we’re all losing.
My clients are losing and though I dedicate 100% of my time on them, I am doing it less often than I would if my day-to-day scenario were any different. My family is losing and all the time. I am stressed 110% of the time.
And so we mothers then go out with our children to enjoy a moment. It is there we come across someone who rolls their eyes at us. It is there we are confronted and criticized by someone for the infective method by which we are trying to corral our child at the park. It is there we find someone who scoffs at the tantrum our toddler is throwing at the market, because our child wants to eat all the unwashed raspberries. But when we hand her the unwashed raspberries, we are judged for giving her fruit that is unwashed. It is a lose-lose situation.
And let me just stop a moment and point out that the criticizing and scoffing constitute as bad manners. So just keep that in mind. Do you know what is not considered bad manners? A hug! So next time, give someone a hug instead of judging how they parent.
And so today I say:
FOR THE LOVE OF GOD STOP IT.
Stop caring what we fellow mothers are doing. Stop judging how one child acts versus another. Stop adding to our stress by contributing to the list of tips we are not following. I hate to point out the obvious, but we know our children well and those tips are not helping the situation. Are children are not your children.
Listen, if one child is so much worse than your child, be happy and rejoice. But remember, chances are your child–especially if a toddler–is exactly the same. It’s merely that you are witnessing the fellow toddler at their worst. And if your child is younger than said toddler–your time is coming. Mark my words, your time is coming.
So stop it.
I think we could all use an emotional break that comes from juggling everything all the time. Give each other a break and stop caring and stop judging.
I am here to say I am exhausted, over-worked, over-stressed and generally feeling that nothing I do is going to be enough. And yes, while I know that is not true–I know I am a wonderful mother and wife and I love all my clients–it’s also human nature to feel inadequate and not enough.
So stop judging fellow mothers. And stop posting Instagram and Facebook posts that pretend to be otherwise. I think it’s time we all come together, realize that collectively motherhood is a beautiful experience, but that it also sucks on occasion.
Let’s stop pretending, stop acting in denial, and start helping one another get by each day. Listen, no toddler is going to help us survive. It’s up to us and up to each other. It’s time to embrace our struggles.
It’s time to admit and embrace that we have struggles. Now, who’s with me!?