Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Down With the Mommy Mafia!

This is going to be a tricky post to write. Yet, it is important and I want to get it out somehow. See, there’s this big elephant in the room nobody warned me about before having a baby. Here it is – here’s what no one told me or if they did – I never understood it.
There is a ridiculous amount of judgment, insecurity and guilt that comes with being a Mom. The part I didn’t get was I didn’t realize how much other parents (usually Moms) would compare themselves and that their insecurity could equate to strong feelings and even hurtful judgment.
I have only been a parent for six months. During that time, I have heard the following:
·         I’m so jealous of you.
·         You call that fussing? My baby cries way more than yours does.
·         I don’t want to read your blog and hear about how everything is going so well for you.
·         You have the perfect life.
·         Wow, your nursery is so perfect – I feel bad I didn’t do anything like that for my son/daughter.
·         Really, your baby is sleeping through the night? What am I doing wrong?
·         You have her dressed so nicely – my baby is always in a sleeper.
·         Cloth diapering? Wow, I never even thought of that. Makes me feel like a bad Mom.
·         Now, you’re making your own baby food. C’MON!
First, do people think sharing those things with me makes me feel good? Guess what? It doesn’t! The funny thing is I think half of these people actually think they are paying me a compliment! Now, I do have many supportive people in my life who comment on the same topics, but say it in a different way, “I’m so happy for you, Courtney. She’s a really good baby” or “Great job on the nursery, Courtney. I can tell how much love you put into it.” I didn’t make any of these parenting choices looking for compliments, but I am a little tired of the judgments and comparisons. And unfortunately, it comes from many different directions.
More than anything, it makes me SO SAD. Why, oh why, do we have to compare ourselves? First, I am so not perfect. Oh my, far from it. I am not Supermom. I will say, I have always been responsible - always. I’ve always been one to research things. I love trying new ideas. And loving my baby does come incredibly easy to me. However, I am NOT perfect and I have a ton of insecurities myself. I feel like I am incredibly open about my flaws, fears, and imperfections with those close to me.
Most often, these comments are coming from people who are amazing parents. They have sweet children and they are doing a great job. I am so proud of them and my heart breaks that they are being so hard on themselves. I really don’t get it. Every family is different. Every child is unique. Why can’t parents encourage one another? Let’s celebrate our victories and love one another – and be happy for each another. There has to be this balance between sharing our thoughts and sharing things in a hurtful way.
Really, I never saw this coming. And, I hate it. I'll close with excerpts from this article, written by Jen Klein on CNN.com:
Being a mom is incredibly hard work, and there’s no way to be absolutely sure you are doing it right. Kids don’t come with instruction manuals and checklists. There is no annual performance review with incentive awards for successes and improvement plans for less-than-successes...

Insecurity about our own efforts combined with the appearance (good or less-than-good) of others’ efforts makes conditions ripe for judgment and lashing out. Even among close friends, it’s easy to slide into this not-at-all productive dynamic — whether we want to admit it or not. Best friends or worst enemies — or both — the social dynamic among moms is a complicated, two-faced beast. It’s the “mommy mafia.”
Ah, yes, the mommy mafia. Enforcers of local social structures and norms and judgers of all who dare to do things differently. The mommy mafia can be brutal.

Here’s the thing: We’re all figuring it out as we go along. Every last one of us. There is no single right way to parent and we all parent differently by necessity — and none of us are perfect. We all have a different set of circumstances, different strengths and weaknesses, and a different set of lenses through which we make decisions for ourselves and on behalf of our families. From the ones you have judged to the ones who have judged you, we’re all doing the best we can, imperfections and all.

And if we all did parent exactly the same way? Sure, the noise around parenting issues would be much quieter, but it would also be a much more boring world. But those differences don’t have to slide into mommy mafia turf, either. Learning to accept that we’re all different and imperfect as parents is hard, however, especially when we want so much to do a great job.

It starts with accepting ourselves and the choices we have made. We each make a set of choices based on our life, knowledge, resources, and the information before us. No two sets of circumstances are exactly the same either, even within the same family — and when you are making decisions for your family, the response of the local mommy mafia should be the last thing on your mind...”

- Courtney

2 comments:

  1. Amen to this whole post. It reminded me that we are all in this together.

    And honestly, I'm happy we all do things differently. How on earth do I learn anything from someone else, if we all behave the same? There is so much I would have missed. (like that all of my friends shoplifted at one point, and now are all law abiding citizens. So my daughter will be fine, it apparently was normal) I would have missed that and felt guilty for being a terrible parent. Instead, I was lifted up, given a glass of wine and told this too shall pass.

    We are better for our differences and should support and praise eachother through this task called parenting. Its hard, heartbreaking, breath taking, wonderful and the best thing I've done in my life so far.

    Keep up the wonderful loving work you do Courtney and thank you for sharing this. :)

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  2. Amen! Thank u for this great blog!!

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