Covers like the one on TIME magazine “Are you Mom enough?” spur anger and contention amongst even the mildest of people.
It made me think about why moms are so quick to attack each other. Sure, there are a few moms who aren’t like that–I try myself to see a person’s view and feelings when a mom shares a view or thought that is different than my own. I have friends who parent in a different way than myself, and I find that I learn something from them. I learn another perspective and sometimes another way to do things. I don’t always agree, but I don’t feel it is my place to tell someone what to do unless the person asks me. The fact is though–and let’s face it– 7 times out of 10 when you share a thought with another mom, that other mom is evaluating how “good” you are as a mom. If your thoughts and ideas are valid. If what you are doing makes sense.
“How can she do that?” “Why is she doing that?” “Well that didn’t work for us.” or “Eh that is interesting, maybe I should do that.” Would that work for us?.”
Even the most confident of mothers think this from time to time. They defend their views with staunch confidence, but deep down we all feel like maybe we are not mom enough sometimes. That’s why the whole article irritated everyone before anyone even got past the cover page.
It’s not an exact science, parenthood. Find one study that says one thing, and you are certain to find a study that says the exact opposite. None of us will really know if what we are doing truly “works” until our children grow up into adults, and even then, some “good” kids backslide.
We pick at each other because as women, we have less resources than men. We are paid less, valued less, promoted less, given less. We are dealing with a complicated time in which the old view that a mom should raise the kids is being juxtaposed with 2 other different views: women should work and fulfill their careers–a feminist stance that came into being probably around the 70’s/80’s and that the father should fulifill at least fifty percent of parenting alongside the mother. That moms are not the only moms.
Women are conflicted. We (not all of us) want to work and have goals, yet we don’t want to walk away from our children. We don’t want to work and instead stay home with our kids, yet we miss being who we once were. While men are now expected to be more involved in domestic life, they still don’t have the pressure. When a baby is born, people immediately ask if the mother will be home or not in some way or fashion. It is not unusual for a dad to be home, but it is not expected. When a baby is born, the dad is expected to work.
When we become mothers, we are born again into conflict. We are supposed to be everything. We cannot just be a mom or an employee or a chef. We must be everything, in most cases.
When you bring all this angst into the picture, it is clear to me why mothers fight each other. It’s as if to say, “See, I am good enough. I do it right. You do it wrong.”
If only we could gather together and support each other in our choices as diverse as they may be, we would have a better social/network/societal life. Think of it this way: when people get together to vote as a group, they are powerful. IF women chose to band together regardless of race/class/and sexual orientation, we would be an extremely dynamic and powerful political entity. We would be happier.
It will probably never happen even though the old feminist in me can hope.
I am grateful for the moms friends that I do have as I feel that they support me in what I do, even if it is different from what they are doing. They keep me sane! Sadly though, I feel as if there are more moms who are bitchier than there are moms that are not. It is a little like high school, part deux.
Instead, the next time someone does something as a parent that I find different or maybe even wrong, I am going to ask myself (unless it is out-and -out abuse of course) how that person’s choice might be valuable to me or to someone.
How it might work instead of how it might not work.
Maybe if everyone did that, life would be easier.