The confessions have continued since then:
- I cried hysterically for days when I found up I was pregnant with our second child.
- I don't really like my children after about 3 pm.
- She drives me crazy.
- We spank.
- Oh, my first son, he was HORRID!
- I think we spank too much.
- I don't feel like a good mom. I'm not sure we should bring other children into our family.
- I constantly question everything I do.
- I haven't taken pictures of the kids in months.
- Sometimes I just have to send them to their rooms for an hour to keep from going crazy.
- I worry about ruining my children.
Unlike my recent public confession, these admissions are done privately. In parks. In backyards. Over glasses of wine. And they're fueled by guilt. And insecurity. And they're made by good moms. Really great moms with really great kids. Moms who shouldn't have to carry such guilt and insecurity. Moms who shouldn't need to worry so much. But we do. We all worry about our mothering more than we should.
I know I'm not the only confessor out there. I make these confessions, too. I'm not surprised that these confessions are done quietly. And only around other moms. Because how could you explain it to people who aren't moms? Or people that don't remember the struggles of being a parent? Find a popular blog or an online article on the topic, and the public comments are horrifying:
- You don't deserve to have children if you don't adore them 24/7.
- Spanking will condemn your child to a life of crime. I'm calling child protective services on you right now.
- If you question your decisions, you must be doing it wrong.
- Co-sleeping will doom your child to a life of perpetual dependence. If you don't smother them in your sleep...
It's no wonder we say these things only in safe company. Being a mom opens yourself up to public criticism. As if our job wasn't challenging and wearying enough without it...
What do we do about it?
Perhaps we should reassemble the Sorority of Moms and agree to fight back against public criticism like this. Even if we secretly agree with the criticizer, we should remind them that criticism is not their right. We're never all going to agree on the best way to parent children. Can we agree on that much? And in parenting, we reap what we sow. Cosleep? Someone else is wetting your bed. Use formula? You pay a fortune for something that most moms can provide for free. Employ lenient discipline techniques? You're the one who has to live with the child's behaviors until they outgrow them. We all choose the consequences of our decisions. And we have to live with them, for better or for worse. The criticizer doesn't have to suffer at all. So why do they care so much?
I wish I knew the answer to that question.