We thought there was pressure raising our four girls during the 80’s. All four girls are now very busy wives and mothers but believe me, my life was cake compared to theirs. In the 80’s my diaper bag said “Safeway” on it. We bought an $80 crib that we used for all four kids until the last baby karate chopped the spindles on the bottom so she could simply roll to the floor to escape. It was not required to have a designer diaper bag, a $200 blinged out cover for the car seat (Heck! We didn’t even have a car seat!) that matched the high chair, stroller, toddler seat, crib and the partridge in a pear tree.
Whew! It’s expensive, and exhausting to be a mom today. Another “must” are clever 4×6 glossies printed for the baby shower invitations and cutest shower deco that matches the car seat, diaper bag, and decked out nursery. Nursery?! A Pinterest original, of course. And when mom arrives at her own shower, she can’t look stressed, tired, haggard, huge, or miserable. She must be perky, fun and at all times joyful. What’s worse though, beyond this perfect personae that most mommies can’t afford let alone master, is the shame or judgement that moms fling at each other. Why is it that many opinionated mothers seem to grow mother claws as they have children. It’s their way or the highway. I recently read an article by Stephanie Barnhart about this very subject that really struck a cord with me. Here’s my take on some of her insights.
No doubt you’ve heard all the hubbub about breast feeding especially in public. To breast feed or not is very controversial in the mom community. My girls were all bottle fed. Not one grew up to be an ax murderer. Pretty good, huh? If you’re a breast feeder aficionado, congrats. But before you pass judgement on a mom bottle feeding her baby, consider this. What if she tried for weeks and just couldn’t do it? What if the baby requires a special formula? What if this mom had breast cancer and a double mastectomy? Maybe she simply chose to bottle feed? What if?
Snacks and eating habits. I’ve had to seriously consider super glueing my lips shut on this one. To see the kids eat an entire bowl of “Goldfish”, chips, or some other equally “fake” substance makes it hard not to blurt. But here’s the deal. My kids didn’t always… no they never…. ate totally balanced meals nor followed the four food groups 24/7. In fact if we were on a road trip, we’d lay the seats down, spread a few blankets, load them up with chips, candy, and other yummy but tooth-decaying items just to make it to our destination without fights, whining, and screaming while maintaining an iota of sanity. And yes, you read that right. No seat belts. Those were the days when saying “Be careful!” was enough, I guess.
Dress and fashion. Ok, we all need to back off on this one. “Mom jeans” to you, may not be “mom jeans” to her. Maybe that’s all she has, or can afford. Maybe she thinks yours are “mom jeans”! Looking perfect is in the eyes of the beholder, right? Let’s judge each other the way you want other women to judge you. Fair enough?
Lots of Parenting Styles
Discipline and parenting styles. All of our girls and their husbands have different parenting styles. It’s fascinating to watch them parent; especially having grown up in the same house with the same parents and rules. But as we choose a spouse we become “one” with them in almost all decisions which is an awesome blessing! (Ok maybe not totally awesome…) We have one daughter whose husband has been pretty stern with the kids. Result? They go to bed perfectly, eat their broccoli, and sit quietly in church.
We have one daughter who has five little kids, the fourth and fifth are twin 1 year olds. Her biggest concern used to be shopping, getting her hair and nails done, and keeping up on “What Not to Wear.” Now she stars in her own “Survivor” episodes and hopes to make it to bedtime each night without any broken bones or something catching on fire.
One daughter speaks very softly in all situations and is amazingly patient. All three oldest girls have five kids each. Their baby sister has one and vows she will never have five. Our kids have crazy lives.
We’re all in survival mode
Stay at home or have a career? Another potentially heated topic. I had to teach school when our kids were little. I was overcome with guilt a lot of the time and wanted to be a stay at home mommy. We just couldn’t afford it and had four jobs between us at times. So when you see a mom dropping her child off at daycare, don’t judge. Is she going through a divorce? Did her husband lose his job? And if you drop your kids off at daycare while passing a mom in her husband’s sweats, with a stroller and three other kids walking to the bus stop, don’t immediately assume that her life is boring and unfulfilled. Or vise versa. What good comes of that? Nothing.
I have two sisters who had horrible experiences with trying to have babies. They both adopted and then were able to have their own naturally. Go figure. I have another sister who was nearly killed in a tractor accident at age 14 which resulted in the heartbreak of her inability to ever have children. Yet she’s had to endure the stares and insensitive questions from non-thinking women. “When are you going to have a baby? Or “Why don’t you have any kids?” She even had to endure her seven sisters whining about the day to day stress of motherhood when she would have given a million bucks to be experiencing our pain.
So you get the drift. Most moms are in survival mode. We all yearn for love and acceptance. It’s such a boost when it comes from our peers. (I know we’re not supposed to care what others think; but darn it, we do!) Instead let’s all admit that parenting is the hardest but most rewarding job there is. But when those sweet kids get out of the bathtub and into their jammies with faces shining, and hair dripping wet, and throw their arms around your neck with an “I love you mommy” it becomes more than worth the daily wear and tear.
Let’s love each other for trying to raise productive and happy children. With so many people choosing not to have children, let’s applaud and lift each other up for our efforts in parenting. Let’s look for the good. It’s right in your own mommy community.