Here’s my theory on why we mom shame each other : our whole lives, from birth, we’re pretty certain that we’re doing this being-a-person thing wrong. Just awkward missteps, one after another, we cannot put it all together. We might LOOK like we have a clue, but inside our heads? Chaos and confusion.
So THEN when we eventually con someone into procreating with us, and out comes a brand new perfect precious innocent person for us to manage, we panic and think OH MY GOD I AM A FUCK-UP, BUT I CANNOT FUCK THIS UP. Suddenly all the ways we know we’re wrong and bad become absolutely unacceptable because this new human needs us to be right and good. So we’re in a perpetual state of fear that we’re failing our preciouses, and we do this cute thing where our fear translates into control and anger (because humans really are just the worst), so we seek opportunities to feel better about our own messy mess by pointing out other people’s.
We might glare at a mom drinking a cup of full-caf coffee while pregnant and say, “Hmm, I guess she never read how intrauterine caffeine intake might cause the fetus to be bad at kickball in 5th grade” or we see a mom being too soft or hard on her kids at the park, and side-eye her with a, “Tsk, apparently SOME people can’t handle it when her shitty kids are being shitty,” then we feel like maybe we’re pulling off following the motherhood unwritten rules a little better? Like we’re not winning, per se, but maybe we’re losing less badly? Since parenting is just falling down a black hole scream terror tunnel, it feels like maybe if we can get our footing by stepping on someone else’s CLEARLY INFERIOR attempts, we’ll do it.
This is why it’s critical to admit that we’re all struggling and to extend the benefit of the doubt to everyone attempting to rear children. Lookit, children don’t want to be reared. They’re mad about it and it’s hard. So, we need to be extra graceful with each other….and oh, hey, with ourselves, too. It doesn’t feel like it, but it really is OK not to know, and to figure it out as we go. Cuz, honestly, even if we train real hard and get all the golds in the Parenting Olympics, our kids will still choke on the medals and fart in front of the reporters. It just is.
I have met a few moms who are actually just really nice and profoundly good at momming- like organized and sane and…happy? I think genuinely? And all six dozen of their kids are fluent in manners and Spanish and also working on short-films about none-legged dogs named Lucky? When these moms share how they manage I FUCKING LISTEN because even though I’m terrified of being wrong, I’m more terrified about being convinced I’m right and inflexible and unwilling to change it up. So, if you’re one of those moms in my life- you won’t know it because no one thinks they’re pulling anything off- but if you ARE one of those moms, don’t be alarmed if I follow you around your kitchen taking notes and measuring your white boards and whatnot. It’s fine. Bless.
I’m at a place in my parenting where I can securely state what I do poorly and what I do well and that I’m open to sharing both, ONLY WHEN ASKED. If you ask me if it’s OK to drink coffee during pregnancy, I’ll take you to the CDC page where studies show it’s fucking fine for the baby to have a cup of real coffee a day and super extra GREAT for the mom. At the playground, I will be your ally, other mom. It’s absolutely us against them. The them, in this case, is the world of judgement against moms, yes, but mostly the them is the kids. They ARE trying to ruin us. It’s not in your head. Don’t ever let your guard down.
Women who stick together can change the world, one encounter at a time. I think we’re witnessing it and it’s really exciting (because humans really are just the best).