Friday, February 24, 2012

Sorority of Moms

We moms are doing it all wrong. 
Follow my local online mommy network, and you'd be horrified at the judgmental comments and insinuations. Sleep with your baby? You're a bad mom. Don't sleep with your baby? You're a bad mom. Don't breast feed? You're the worst of moms. Breasfeed until they're 2? You're the worst of the worst.

We can be a bunch of witches. No one can cruelly condemn a mom quite like another mom. We name ourselves judge, jury, and executioner over trivial matters. You let them watch TV!?! You let them eat Fruit Loops!?! You bought them a Barbie!?!?!?!?!

I propose we start a sorority of non-witchiness. I say we set out to help insulate each other from the rest of the witchy world. We can agree to disagree on most things. But there are a few things we must all agree on:

  1. Compliment heavily pregnant women. Tell them they look amazing. Especially if they don't. It doesn't matter that you're lying. Its not about truth. It's about encouragement.
  2. Cheer on moms with horribly misbehaving children. Compliment their patience. Compliment their child's sass vocabulary. Vocabulary is one sign of intelligence, you know... Kid tantrumming in public? Offer to treat her to a peppermint mocha or margarita. She'll likely turn you down. If she doesn't, you know that your impact was especially profound that day.
  3. Another mom at your office or playgroup show up looking like warmed-over and sleep-deprived leftovers from the last decade? Get together with another parent and buy her flowers. Have them delivered. Don't let her know they're from you. Do let her know they're in recognition of the amazing amount of work she does every day.

My university's motto was "truth even unto its innermost parts". When it comes to moms, thats an awful motto. Ours should be "encouragement even unto its outermost stretch."

Because the truth is that most of society doesn't care about our inner battles of mommy guilt. How we can find a way to feel guilty for any decision we make. How other people openly question any decision we make. And how celebrity moms have raised the bar to have perfectly toned, dressed, and rested bodies within six weeks of childbirth. With frequent trips to the salon, massage parlor, and gym. Society doesn't care that we struggle to dress our post-baby bodies because nothing fits anymore and daycare costs ate up our clothing budget. Society says that if we try hard enough, we can have it all. If we can't keep it all together, we must not be trying hard enough.

Yeah, but we know better. We know that "breast is best" (a phrase that causes angst and extreme guilt for many new moms) means that we wear our oversized breasts in oversized shirts until our child is a year old. Or longer. And we wear the extra weight that helps feed them. And sometimes it doesn't go away when we stop feeding them. We know that moms can be just as productive in the workplace as everyone else. Which is amazing considering the twice daily pumping breaks and unpredictable mid-day trips to the pediatrician's office. And leaving "early" every day to make it to daycare on time so we don't get socked with a dollar-a-minute late fee. And getting less sleep because we were up late organizing all the food and gear bags for work and daycare the next morning - a task similar to prepping for the invasion of Normandy.

We try not to complain about all of these things... We love our children and do it gladly. And besides. No one would really listen to our complaining anyway. Being a mother is supposed to be an indescribable joy that trumps all hardship. 

So I say again:  Encouragement even unto its outermost stretch(marks). 

Anyone want to join my club?


  1. Yes, please! I generally avoid "online mommy networks" because of that potential for witchiness.

    And by the way, good job making it to the gym, despite how much effort it takes to lug the parade and then actually engage in the sweaty, exhausting, healthy exercise.

    And good job thinking years ahead to get your beautiful little girls into the nice Boston school system. (When will you hear about whether you won the lottery? ;)

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Thanks Denise! Thanks for your encouragement! Welcome to the club!
      We'll be serving margaritas in Minnesota in August.

      We didn't make it to the gym this morning because I was mildly hung over (a blog post for the future, I'm sure), B didn't get a chance to walk the dogs (maybe also hung over?), and I just didn't want to deal with the battle of getting everyone there. So C started to tantrum that we WEREN'T going to the gym. I reminded her about tantrumming the other day because we WERE going, and said that's why we couldn't go today. Good times.

      We're supposed to hear about the lottery in "early March". We'll see. Keep your fingers crossed!

  2. I recall once reading a comparison between early adolescent girls (think of the movie Mean Girls)and mothers of infants/toddlers. Both groups are often highly critical of their peers and the author linked that behavior to the insecurity that comes with being thrust into a new role. The competitiveness seems to taper off as each group gets older and feels more self-confident.(I have no recollection of the source of this information or theory, however.) I'll join the club - let's encourage each other (1 Thess 5:11!)

    1. I'd agree with that comparison and rationale. Some of the most horrifyingly judgmental statements came from mothers whose child (they only had one) was between 3 and 6 months. And they were commenting on decisions made by mothers of older children. I couldn't help but chuckle, "Just you wait honey, see how you feel about this in about a year or two!"
      I think "encourage one another and build each other up" is what I'm taking on for Lent.

  3. Thanks for this Joy. My new year's resolution has been to attempt to live out this quote: "I want to have fewer rules and fewer conditions on how other people should life. Instead, more understanding, more space, more grace" - Shauna Niequist. I need frequent reminders though, and your post was a good one (especially as the mom of one child between 3-6 months old :)

    1. Thanks Lisa! Welcome to the club!