So let’s talk about Mom-on-Mom hate. Why is it that every mom thinks the only way to parent is theirs? Think about all the hot button issues in motherhood that divide us–Breastfeeding/Formula Feeding, Stay-at-Home/Working Mom, Vaccinate/Not Vaccinate…and the list goes on and on. Most moms stand firmly on one side or the other and feel attacked by moms who don’t see it their way–sometimes unnecessarily. Unfortunately, our insecurities force us to pick sides, go on the defensive and even get nasty. Here’s the bigger problem: This behavior is spilling over into our children’s relationships.
I experienced a lot of Mom-on-Mom Hate late in my pregnancy. Up to the day of his birth, I was told that my “lofty” ideas of having Baby T with no pain medication was ridiculous. Moms around me told me their horror stories and insisted that I would “never make it” without drugs and I would “cave”. They took cheap shots at my confidence because obviously I had “no clue” what I was committing myself to–well, joke was on them–I did it (just barely) but I did it! In my moments of deciding between an epidural and continuing naturally, I clearly remember explaining to the nurse that I needed to do it naturally because I told everyone I was going to do it! During a major decision in my birth plan, I was worried about what other people were going to think! SERIOUSLY?
I remember posting on Facebook that I did it with no drugs as a moment of pride–not as a knock at anyone else–and received a backlash about all babies, no matter how they are born, are a blessing–and that I must have had an EASY labor. Talk about a buzzkill. I received attitude about my choices including breastfeeding, making my own baby wipes and food, and using organic products on my son. I wasn’t walking around judging other moms for how they were doing things (at first). I never stood on a soapbox and pointed fingers at other moms–but for some reason they felt judged simply because I did things differently. And what’s worse, I felt attacked and ended up going on the defensive. I became a perpetuator of Mom-on-Mom hate. I started looking at other mamas who didn’t do things my way and thinking “well isn’t she a hot mess” like I had it altogether. How many other moms get sucked into this cycle like this?
Why can’t moms be supportive of other moms? It is hard for us to acknowledge our mistakes or our struggles–because we are afraid we are going to be JUDGED (and we are). I’ve seen a lot of posts on parenting sites talking about “pet peeves about other parents”–with a “no offense” disclaimer. Uh-huh-what? You want people to discuss what makes them upset or angry but not attack or feel attacked? Seems like a sure-fire way to build camaraderie, no? Why can’t Motherhood be a safe place to talk about our trials and tribulations? Oh yeah, I forgot–we’re all saints, right? WRONG.
I know some moms feel the need to evangelize and recruit others to their ways of life–and that’s okay–but please, please, please do it without being dismissive, belittling and nasty. Honestly, the best way to help other moms is by not judging them and by doing what you do best–being you! A lot of times you don’t have to give unsolicited advice–they’ll come to you–maybe even ask you why you do what you do. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve been asked about Baby T’s teething necklace, for my secret baby wipe formula or tips on making baby food–and I didn’t do anything other than be ME.
Now, let’s get to the meat of this post…what does this have to do with our children, especially our daughters? It’s easy for me as a teacher to say, “Wow–girls just get nastier and nastier each year”–but the harder and more important thing to do is examine why. Why are they nasty? Who tells them that this behavior is acceptable? Why do they think that friendships consist of talking behind one another’s backs? Hate to tell you this but it’s on us, mamas! We’re their number one role models–and what do they see us do? Attack and feel attacked by other moms–our “friends”–ALL THE TIME–over just about ANYTHING. Moms can be catty, judgmental and rude–our daughters are sponges–they follow examples of the women in their lives. Why wouldn’t we expect this to transfer over into their friendships?
It’s on us to teach our kids that friendship is NOT based on a mutual-dislike for one another and utter lack of support for your “friends'” choices. When my students complained about having to work with someone they didn’t see eye-to-eye with, I told them that they didn’t have to marry the person but they did have to be supportive and polite. Why can’t we follow that advice? When one mom does something we don’t agree with why can’t we just accept that? Maybe that’s right for their family or their child? Just because people do things differently doesn’t mean they are doing it wrong. It takes all kinds of mamas from all walks of life to make up this wonderful world we live in!
Wouldn’t it be great if our girls could follow that example and be who they are without worrying about being judged? Wouldn’t it be great if they’d allow their peers to “do their own thing” without wasting their energy on ostracizing and judging them? Wouldn’t it be great if they just accepted each other for who they are despite their differences?
Wouldn’t motherhood be easier if we could TALK OPENLY about our trials, tribulations and mistakes? Wouldn’t it be easier to ASK other moms for help without the fear of being JUDGED? Wouldn’t it be easier to know that if you child is having an absolute meltdown in the supermarket or at a social gathering that other moms EMPATHIZE because THEY’VE BEEN THERE–rather than feeling their GLARE and feeling like a TERRIBLE mom. It’s an awful cycle–we feel judged even when we aren’t being judged–wouldn’t it be awesome to NOT feel that way all the time. Wouldn’t it be nice if Mom-on-Mom Hate wasn’t the norm? Here’s the challenge: I dare you to be the difference, to defy the norm, to change the course of “Motherhood” and bring an end to Mom-on-Mom Hate.
Think there is a connection to Mom-on-Mom Hate and our kiddos (especially daughters) having to deal with NASTY peers? How do you stop yourself from joining in on Mean Girls: Mamas Edition?
If you liked this post make sure to follow Mompson on Facebook
and/or Twitter @mompson