If we loved like we judge, our world would be so much happier. If we accepted others as often as we condemn them, things wouldn’t be nearly so complicated. If we gave praise to those we love as often as we shamed strangers or our children, I truly believe we could cure so many of the world’s problems… and yet, here we are, still in the thick of it, still fighting for our scrap of justice we feel we are owed.
This afternoon I read a blog by a mom who was making a very public statement about how she needed to break out of the healthy mom loop because she’s done feeling bad about her parenting. There’s just “too many rules” the author said, and every mom who read it cheered on “YES THIS!”, “OMG SO MUCH THIS!!” My response? Well, my response was a pretty clear, “NOPE – Can’t get behind that. Sorry.”
I was the only one who didn’t jump to love it.
See, I get it, the frustration and overwhelming expectations and as I was reading at first, I was totally with her- excited for her self-liberation! Well done, mama!! But then, something shifted in her writing… Even though I understood her anxiety because I’ve felt it before, too… I’m not going to cheer on a mom who rants about how she’s tired, so she should just get a pass to do whatever she feels like because she is sick of feeling bad for not being perfect.
Mama, no one is perfect and I am so, truly sorry you felt this way for so long! Please know we all have been there, we all know what you are feeling – but there’s no need to toss out every piece of good advice as trash just because you feel overwhelmed. The thing is, voicing these feelings here on the internet, in such a public and sarcastic way is not just taking a stand for yourself and you have to know that, right? You are encouraging others to follow you, just by writing it and that isn’t fair to you, us, or anyone’s babies.
I’m so sorry you felt like you were being forced onto some unnatural and unattainable scoreboard. I’m one of those moms who cares about those things and through your writing, I and every mother who does opt for the safer options are all now a part of the problem making you feel bad about yourself. Because our very existence makes you feel bad, it’s almost as though you are asking us to stop trying so hard. When we’re all the same and we all equally don’t try, then everyone can feel good about themselves, right? Well, no. That’s not right either, is it? I just don’t think you are being very fair.
Mama, look- I’m sorry you “hate life” because irony sucks, and oh man, believe me I get it- irony laughing in my face is a daily happening here. I hate life sometimes, too. I don’t know a single mom who doesn’t. Also, yeah, I know all about being too tired to care about the ingredients in sunblock. Or bath soap, or granola bars or whatever else for that matter, but just because I’m tired of caring doesn’t mean I don’t actually care and it certainly doesn’t mean I have the right to stop doing the right thing.
The sunblock thing… that actually does matter to some people (especially those of us who have translucent children who are allergic to the toxic death cream, just happen to live in California where sunblock is a 365 day part of life – because, magical fairy angels are indigenous to these parts, apparently). It should be acceptable to feel that what is in your sunblock matters, but now, because of your blog, mamas might question whether or not they should care because it’s just trivial and doesn’t matter or it just makes them look like they care too much. Wasn’t that your point? “I’m gonna go play with my boys and you can all stew over whatever stupid study comes out to tell me what I’m doing wrong and I don’t care”? See, that just doesn’t feel right to me – your liberation should not have to include the condemnation of a different way of thinking or a lack of consideration for how your not caring might affect your children. I’m certain there is a better way than this.
See, I care about that stuff, but it’s okay if you don’t. If it’s not for you- that’s cool, whatever, I’m totally not going to judge you. There is absolutely no need to rope everyone else into your comparison games. There’s no reason to bite at the way others like to do things because it doesn’t work for you, that’s just bad form. What you are doing is like hating Hermione because she studied more than you and you failed potions, so now studying is stupid because it’s overwhelming and Hermione reminds you of all you can’t live up to so you hate her and books are lame so, now you want to quit school.
Mama, it’s not you, really. This post is long overdue and directed at the entire culture that has emerged recently, you know the one.. the one that says ;”let’s go be bad moms who do whatever we want and not care about our kid’s needs because they’ll be fine and those studies make me feel bad”. It’s the trend that defiantly chooses to not be careful. It’s the trend that deliberately gives their kids junk food JUST to spite the natural parenting world – not thinking that perhaps it is the children who will suffer from these choices, not these other parents you seem to be waging war against. Also, I’ll freely admit most of my frustration with this is actually because of that new movie coming about about this very same topic which glorifies not caring. I don’t get it and it makes me sad. It’s polarizing and unhelpful.
I’m even more super tired with this sense of defeatism and please know it’s not just you. It’s like there is this perception that, if a mom can’t manage to be perfect all the time, well then why bother at all and screw anyone else who tries. (Psst- NO mother is perfect all the time – not ever) If you do something wrong, you do better next time. It’s no sweat and not really that big a deal. You may not make the right choice every minute of the day, (like the time I told my five year old he could watch Gravity Falls because it was on the Disney channel, not realizing it was WAY too old for him and now it’s too late- he asks everyone he meets, “have you heard about the demon Bill Cypher with one eye?” while I shrink into my worst parent of all time shell and try to disappear) but I, and every other mom, in spite of our mistakes still make the right choices the majority of the time, right? Well, that still counts and that should be enough!
I get the tired part, too. I’m tired ALL.THE.TIME and I’ve only got two children! So, when I hear about mamas who are exhausted with 4 or more babies under 7 years old, I marvel at their ability to even be upright and speaking coherent sentences! I wanna give them a trophy for making it outdoors! I want to say; “Bravo to you, mama! You’ve got a shirt on and each of your children have their shoes on the right feet! Well done!!”
I get it. If I only have two children and I feel like this, I know I’ve got nothing to complain about, but things are far from perfect in my house. My carpet looks like I raised a herd of wooly mammoths from the tarpits then paraded them through my living room. My kitchen sink looks like I’m conducting some kind of creepy science experiment involving radioactive superpowers because the disposal is broken. There’s more, but that’s not the point. The point is, that’s my house. That’s my life. It’s clean, polished, vacuumed and smells nice when I teach voice in my living room, but the carpet stains are still there and there’s still holes of dead grass in the lawn.
Now, I could feel devastated anytime another mom who appears to have her act together better than me comes through my door, but why? Why would I do that to myself? Should I be frustrated with moms who live in bigger houses with the extra money to get their carpet professionally cleaned when their toddler spills red and blue food coloring or grinds modeling clay into the fibers while I’m doing dishes in the other room? (that’s a real story, by the way)
I applied this same principle you wrote about to my life, I should get angry that my street doesn’t have any magical unicorn lumberjacks who build perfect homes that never get dirty and be bitter that I don’t get to live in one of those.
(Dang it, I just realized the mom who wrote that article probably has a way better, nicer house than I do… *sigh* I guess…I don’t know, am I supposed to feel bad about myself now, or something…?)
See, when moms write this kind of stuff, it causes me to question if maybe I’m not judgmental enough, but I’m not going to live that way. I’m not going to compare myself to other families because theirs are not mine and they don’t have to sit at my dinner table.
Speaking of food… Good lord, I am so over the food, let me just side track for a moment here. My five year old wants pizza for dinner every day. Also for lunch, breakfast and dessert. In fact, if all he ever had to eat was pizza for the rest of his life, he’d be totally fine with that. I’m experimenting with recipes to infuse protein powder into pizza crust, that’s how bad it is. My daughter only wants to eat popsicles because “food is terrible for her brain, it makes her tummy cry and only popsicles make me happy”. (that’s what she told me today, anyway) So, I teach voice three nights a week right through the dinner hour while they are walled up in the back bedroom with a babysitter and the television for 3-4 hours each night and guess what they eat on those days?
Pizza. Chicken nuggets. Popsicles, mac-&-cheese and corn dogs. Yes, all from the frozen section of the grocery store- nothing made by vegan elves in the organic trees planted in my back yard by the Buddhist monks on a full moon from seeds that fell after the first snowfall in Narnia. (besides, those trees are much too small to house an entire tribe of elves anyway) Yeah, I admit it; the Cautious Mom lets her kids eat like crap 3 nights a week because she’s usually too busy to worry about it. I have never advertised this because it wasn’t a big deal. It does’t change how I feel about organic, wholesome foods. It doesn’t change my knowledge of what goes into these products or that I know they are terrible food sources for children. All of that is still true – but I do what I can, when I can and I forgive myself the rest. I don’t bash anyone else in the process. It’s just life and stuff gets in the way of your good intentions. You make due and it doesn’t have to be some kind of ego-centered, public statement about how “I am DONE caring about GMO’s because I’m tired, so you can take your healthy mom crap and shove it, stupid California fairy angels!”
My beautiful, California fairy angels are offended, by the way. (not really, because that would be stupid. Actually, I don’t think they even read mom blogs, they’re too busy making healthy sunblock…)
I freely admit that I’d rather feed these kids what I know they’ll eat than have them waste food I can’t afford. Do I feel bad about that? Sometimes yes and when I do, it’s because I want them to be healthy, not because I’m judging myself against some societal standard. I’m not going to condemn others or belittle other’s ways because they’re tiresome and “oh God the pressure- I can’t take it anymore!!” I’m just going to go about my life and do the best I can and maybe next time, I’ll remember to meal prep before I have to teach.
Moms, we have GOT to stop comparing ourselves to others. Stop telling other moms their processes are stupid or over-protective or too complicated or whatever else you want to say just because you don’t feel like doing those things or you’re too busy or your life is not designed to make those things possible for you. It’s not nice and it isn’t fair to be so snarky and mean about it just because you don’t want to or, for whatever reason, can’t. Just don’t do it and move on.
I know this is a really strange idea, but it really is totally okay to just live and be happy and not care about what others think. In fact, I’d say that is probably one of the best lessons you could teach your children. So really, it’s cool, okay? You don’t wanna do it? – Fine.
If you are parenting (or NOT parenting) your family based on what other people do in their own homes or because of what they think of you or worse- what you think of THEM, it’s no wonder you are so stressed and I am so sorry you are feeling this way!
Give yourself a break, okay? Just do your thing and know you are doing it well. Do it, own it, be you, be proud of it and move on. Love yourself, love your process, change it when it no longer makes you happy and just be the good mom you know you are. That’s all.
I hope the message I am trying to get through here reaches you in love, compassion and acceptance. Enjoy your summer, enjoy your boys. Enjoy your life and live it the way YOU want to, not the way anyone else tells you to – and give others that right, as well.
Oh, and one last thing – I keep using your phrases about magical fairy angels and toxic death cream because it’s hilarious and awesome and I totally love it, not because I am judging you or being snarky and rude. I am literally never going to call regular sunblock anything but toxic death cream from now on and it makes me giggle every time I think about it.