Thursday, November 17, 2016

Mama vs. Mama

The mommy war struggle is real, y'all. So much judgement is out there for the choices you make in raising your kiddos. The worst offenders of hateful judgement are actually other moms! We've got some serious friendly fire issues over here on Planet Mom, and I'm so sick of it. Go peruse through a Scary Mommy comment section sometime. There is some serious shade thrown at one another for the DUMBEST of reasons. I wearily listen to all these arguments and get a serious urge to lock myself in my closet with a bible. Or wine. Preferably both. Come quickly Lord Jesus! There's the breast vs. bottle war.  The attachment parenting vs. free range parenting war. You've heard of the battle of the sexes? I feel like the battle of the moms is JUST AS BAD and far more frequent. These wars are VICIOUS. They are BRUTAL. And you know what? They are just flat out UNNECESSARY! Not only are they unproductive, but hello?! Moms have ENOUGH guilt in our own heads that we're messing this whole mom thing up. 



The worst war, though? I feel like it's the working mom vs. the stay-at-home-mom war. My word are people opinionated on this! Whether it's your mother-in-law, other moms at the PTA, or some lady in the grocery store giving you the side-eye, people have way too many opinions about this subject. If you work outside the home, then CLEARLY you must care nothing about your kids because you're letting other people raise them. Eyeroll. If you stay at home, then you OBVIOUSLY have no ambition and only want to stay home to watch television and sponge off your husband's income. Eyeroll. This is getting seriously old, y'all. And let's not forget the single mamas who have ABSOLUTELY NO CHOICE in this situation at all. If I see anyone throwing shade at a single mama for working then so help me…. I'll be the grocery store lady dishing up a mean case of sideye at you.



Look, I've done both. Both are so incredibly hard. I don't feel like one was easier for me than another. I had overwhelming guilt in both scenarios. 



I remember telling the room mom that I would love to commit more time to helping out in the classroom, but my work schedule wouldn't allow it. I got one of those slow nods. You know the ones. The judgmental slow nod came with a long "Ohhhhhh". Then she turned and walked away from me, and never spoke to me again. She didn't have to say a word for me to feel her judgment and condemnation all over me. 



Bless. Listen, my mommy guilt was just another passenger buckled in my car next to my computer bag on my commute when I worked. My unwelcome passenger got out and bugged me all day. She would tell me that a better mom would have remembered to put a blue shirt on her kid on blue shirt day. She would tell me that my sniffly boy would be better off with a mama to lay on & snuggle all day. She would tell me that a better mama would get the laundry done more often. She would tell me that a better employee would stay later to finish that project like everyone else without kiddos does. She would tell me that a better mom would be a better wife who wasn't so tired and snippy with her husband. She would tell me a better mom would have a cleaner house. She would tell me a better mom wouldn't bring work projects home so I would have more time to make healthier dinners and pack better lunches. She would tell me a better mom would be there for every milestone, every laugh, and every moment. When I was at work, I felt guilty about how I was cheating my family. When I went home from work, I felt guilty about how I was cheating my employer. I felt like I was constantly struggling to give both my all. I felt guilty about my divided focus and assumed that a better mom would stay home. 



When I stayed at home, I had no people or projects to distract me from the mommy guilt. She was with me all dadgum day. Stay-at-home-momming has its own challenges, and the mommy guilt from these challenges was omnipresent. It was both overwhelming but yet not challenging enough. I felt guilty for being so exhausted and overwhelmed by the all-day never-one-moment-off reheating-my-coffee-four-times demands. I felt guilty for feeling bored by the fact that I only used my brain for dumb things like which household cleaners to buy. I felt guilty for wasting my skills on hungry hungry hippos and scrubbing sippy cups. I felt guilty that I couldn't even keep up with the demand of keeping the sippy cups clean or getting ground up cheez-its out of the carpet. I felt guilty for not carpe-diem-ing all the time and not loving every moment. I felt guilty for looking forward to nap time. I felt guilty that my house was far, far messier as a stay at home mom than it ever was as a working mom. I felt guilty that my husband came home to a wife in yesterday's sweats and a ratty ponytail. I felt guilty that I was just as tired as a stay at home mom and I was still just as snippy with my husband as I was when I worked. I felt guilty when I was cleaning that I wasn't playing with my boy. I felt guilty that when I was playing that I wasn't cleaning. I felt guilty for spending money when I didn't make any. I felt guilty for looking like crap in old, ratty clothing because I couldn't bring myself to buy anything new. When I would take my son to the park and see his laughter and joy, I would feel guilty for not doing it often enough. My guilt would say to me "Sara, you stay home ALL DAY and you can't manage to get your kid to the park when it brings him THIS MUCH JOY?! WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?!" I'd shame myself while my son giggled at the park. Even the momming wins made me feel guilty. I would feel guilty when I looked through our checking account and tell myself that a better mama would go to work to give her kid more. 



Lawd. The point is, our value as moms has absolutely NOTHING to do with our choice of occupation. ZERO correlation. NONE. Our value has EVERYTHING to do with how we try. How we assess the needs of our family, how we assess our own skills and put them to work, how we grow, and how we learn from our mistakes. The path we take in our occupation is irrelevant. What matters is how well we love our kiddos and give them the best shot at becoming responsible, well adjusted, contributing members of society as adults. And happy mamas raise happy kiddos. A resentful, grumpy stay at home mom will raise resentful, grumpy kids. A resentful, grumpy mama will raise resentful, grumpy kiddos.



If I physically did to myself what my mom guilt does to my mind, I'd look like Jim Carrey in "Liar, Liar" when he thrashes himself against the wall, slams the toilet seat on his head, bloodies his own nose, rips his suit… And my husband would be the horrified man that walks in and says "what are you doing?!" I would be Jim again, screeching "I'M KICKIN' MY OWN ASS!!!!"



Mom guilt makes us kick our own asses. Hard. But I ask y'all WHY IN THE BLUE BLAZES do we kick one another's?! Don't we have enough of that mess in our own heads?! What good does it do?! Have the mom-wars ever ONCE make someone a better mom? Doubtful. Highly, highly doubtful. 



Furthermore, these wars imply that there is only one correct way to raise a child. There can't only be one way to mom correctly. Any mom who has had more than one child will tell you that they naturally come out with completely different personas and completely different needs. If there was only one correct way to mom, that would mean that all children would need exactly the same things. Not true. Not true at all. If it were, momming would be so much simpler than it is. I'm thankful for all the types of momming available out there. The diversity in my friendship with mamas adds to my parenting repertoire, and my son is better off for it.



I see my working mom pals raising INCREDIBLE kids. I see my stay at home moms raising AMAZING kids. I see so many different types of moms using their unique gifts and talents to bless their families in ways no other mom could. All these different moms use those gifts and talents to bless other moms. You know why they say it takes a village? Because any good village includes all different kinds of moms. If we all mommed the same way, the village wouldn't be beneficial anymore. Our children need moms of all types to help them through all challenges and pique all their interests. 



So to the working mamas. To the stay at home mamas. To the work from home mamas. To the room mamas. To the board room mamas. To the single mamas. To the married mamas. To the yesterday's yoga pant mamas. To the fashionista mamas. To the gourmet meal mamas. To the frozen pizza mamas. To the bento box mamas. To the school lunch mamas. To the only child mamas. To the multiple child mamas. To the breastfeeding mamas. To the bottle feeding mamas. To the natural birth mamas. To the epidural mamas. To the C-section mamas. To the adoptive mamas. To the type-A mamas. To the hot-mess mamas. To the crafty mamas. To the mamas who would rather deal with colic than crafting. To ALL OF Y'ALL: I say to you, if you are feeling mommy guilt, you are one helluva mom because you want the best mom possible for your kid. Don't let anyone shame you into feeling like you would be a better mom if you made their choices. 



I want to thank all of you just for being you. You're creating a world that shows my son all possibilities for how to become an adult. All types of mamas have made me better. Even the judgmental, hateful ones. They challenge me to love my mom tribe harder. 



This mom thing is hard enough when we're kicking our own asses. Let's not kick each other's. 




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