Let’s just come out with it then: I‘m exhausted. I’m hungry and thirsty and my back hurts and the last time I remember brushing my teeth was Tuesday. I want my breasts back and I want to poo without someone on my lap and I don’t want to even try to make anyone eat vegetables today because there’s just no point. We’re having Heinz beans and chicken nuggets for supper.
My kids are driving me crazy. There. I said it.
I’m a mother: I’m overworked and underpaid, and even though my partner is a baby-wearing, house-keeping, co-sleeping modern dad, he doesn’t know where the MCP cards are, what the expiry date on the Epipen is, or which cream is for the eczema and which cream is for the mysterious neck rash.
A mom’s job is 24/7. There are no breaks. Things can get pretty overwhelming. I do the best I can. So the last thing I need — or any mom needs — is to be judged or looked down upon by other moms.
There is no such thing as a perfect mom, but from time to time we all feel the pressure. When your kid falls down and adds a busted forehead to his black eye collection, you think, “have I run to comfort him quickly enough?” When it’s your turn to bring snack to pre-school you think, “is this healthy enough?”
So many days are filled with uncertainty: Am I doing this right? Am I good enough? Am I too relaxed? Am I paranoid?
The Great Divide
Yet I’ve noticed a great divide: The Free-rangers laugh condescendingly when they see a toddler on a leash. The Helicopters fall pale with anxiety whenever a child is allowed to roam the playground freely. Attachment parents turn up their noses at the mom who leaves her baby asleep in the swing all morning.
And lest we forget the rivalry between stay-at-home moms and working moms: one camp is looked down upon for being domestic slaves while the other is scorned for abandoning their children.
The the last thing I need — or any mom needs — is to be judged or looked down upon by other moms.
We need to realize that we’re all striving for the same outcome: healthy, happy, well-adjusted kids who don’t blame us for screwing them up entirely when they become adults. But different tactics work for different combinations of parents and children. You don’t know why a parent chooses a strategy until you are in their shoes.
Most parents struggle in some respect. Except for what I call the Martha Moms. Recognizable by their blindingly white teeth and perfectly coiffed hair, they set the pressure-bar high: their babies don’t cry and they sleep through the night right from birth. So they say. (And look at me here, judging them.)
Maybe everything really is that terrific or maybe they simply have exceptional coping skills. Maybe. But as one breastfeeding support worker in the city once said to me, “I think those moms are all closet alcoholics. I mean, something’s gotta give.”
I am comforted knowing that most of these moms are completely non-judgmental. I’ve found a forum where I feel free to ask and answer questions such as: what do you do when your kid won’t eat anything but foods that are white? What if he hits you or smears poo on the walls? And what the hell are you doing about sleep?
These moms have helped me realize one very valuable thing: doing what works for you and your family is where it’s at. Having different ideals is OK — there are a number of things I feel very strongly about — but we need to team up, not gang up. Support is not optional, especially not in today’s world of modern, urban families made up of friends and neighbours more often than blood-relatives.
As one mom I know recently put it: “Let’s get together and fight for affordable daycare rather than gossip amongst ourselves about who sends their kids to ‘yuppie’ daycare.”
Moms in solidarity, that’s what we need.
So I invite other mothers (especially the Marthas) to just come out with it, if you need to. And in the meantime, if you see me peeling out of the pre-school parking lot after morning drop-off with a smile on my face that says “I’m free!” blaring GnR’s Sweet Child O’ Mine just to be taken back to that special place, please — don’t judge me. I love my kids just as much as you do. Even more, I would be willing to argue, but so would you, and then where would we be?