The other day at a playground around town I inadvertently eavesdropped on a conversation going on between two moms. “Look at her,” the one mom was saying to the other mom. “She lost so much weight she looks anorexic”. The other mom scoffed, narrowing her eyes at the mom in question, “Definitely”. The mom in question was pretty trim, but she looked great, and was happily pushing her little one on a swing, totally unaware of the critique going on about her body just a few feet away. This conversation goes on at playgrounds everywhere. Insert “gained so much” and “obese” instead of “lost so much” and “anorexic”, or insert some snarky remark about her hair, or her bag, or her shoes, or her choice of lifestyle. What made me sad, besides the fact that these two women were making unnecessary and potentially hurtful comments about another woman’s body, was that it reminded me of all the horrible-ness of high school, or, even worse, middle school. Didn’t we, shouldn’t we, have all learned how hurtful that type of stuff is long ago? Why do we continue to make mommyhood the new middle school cafeteria, except instead of braces it’s baby weight, and we STILL make fun of what each other is wearing.
I get it though. People, especially women, can be motivated by insecurities. The thing is, we ALL have them. Whether you are insecure about your weight, your height, your hair color/job/parenting technique/c-section/breastfeeding choice/WHATEVER it is chances are the mom next to you at the playground has her own fair share of insecurities. Chances are even better that maybe she just had one of those days. You know the days, the day you forgot it was “crazy hat” day at school and just realized your child will be sitting there forlorn, crazy hat-less. Maybe you were out of juice boxes, hell, maybe you even FORGOT to pack lunch (done that), maybe the laundry pile has now formed mean little sock eyes and is threatening to overtake your entire room, maybe you forgot to buy toilet paper and needed to convince a potty training toddler that paper towels are the same thing, FOR AN HOUR. Maybe that mom next to you is taking care of an elderly parent, maybe that mom next to you just had to put the family dog down, maybe that mom next to you is just having a plain old crappy day. But even more, maybe that mom next to you is going through some post-partum depression stuff, maybe she’s going through a divorce, maybe she’s a single mom and she would gladly exchange a pile of gold for one day of solid sleep and relaxation if she could. The point is, whatever that mom’s experience is-you don’t know it, so don’t judge it. Your words, whether you realize it or not, can hurt. They can also help buoy someone up, so choose them carefully, or don’t share them at all.
We all love to jump on another mom’s story. The Tiger Mom, the Bringing Up Bebe mom, Michelle Duggar, Michelle Obama, Blossom and her attachment parenting. We all love to pass judgment. Oh, so and so doesn’t breastfeed?! HOW HORRIBLE! So and so breastfeeds her three year old?! HOW DISGUSTING! Why? Why tear down another woman’s choices, another mother’s choices, when you have the opportunity to support? We do it to deflect away from our own inadequacies. It makes us feel better to say, “Well, at least I’m not as bad as her“. The truth is though, as a mom, we are all going to fail at some point. We are ALL going to have the big MOM FAIL stamp right on our foreheads for all to see. Whether it’s when your two year old melts down in the middle of Target or your teenager tells you he hates you and wants to move out, it’s going to happen, so prepare yourself for that. They don’t call it the hardest job in the world for nothing. It’s tough, most things that are worth the effort are. No one is keeping score, and this isn’t a competition that one of us will win. So please, moms, let’s not make it tough on each other. Enough. Enough with the judging. Enough with the snarky comments, enough with all of it.
This is my third go at the whole parenting thing. Am I an expert? Far from it. Do I have experience? An awful lot of it. That doesn’t mean I know what I’m doing most of the time either. The other day I was at the Great Cloth Diaper Change and I opened up Jack’s bumGenius to find out it was a poop diaper, and, guess what? I had zero wipes. At an event that was ALL ABOUT CHANGING DIAPERS. And I write a PARENTING WEBSITE. I laughed at the fact that yes, I forgot to bring an essential item, at an essential time, and the woman holding the event was literally counting down the seconds till I was supposed to be changing the diaper. I also laughed at the fact that I was a hot mess since it was about 80 degrees in that SportsPlex and you could most likely see the one nursing bra I like (leopard print no less) through the huge accidentally unbuttoned gap in my top. Then I asked a mom near me if she had wipes. She said no. And it wasn’t a nice no. But the other mom (you with the cute owl cloth diapered little one wearing the baby leggings) happily handed a bunch over and it made me smile instantly. She helped, she wanted to help, the way we should all want to. The happy exchange of this mom currency was how it should be. We are all in this boat together, we are all learning as we go along, so share the wipes, moms, and skip the judgment. xoxo Jenny