This weekend I had an experience that really made me think about why women are so quick to attack each other. While my husband, son and I were visiting family for the weekend my son was none too happy to sleep in a place that was not his crib. After his crying fit subsided I came out of the room and was greeted by this conversation:
Family member: WOW. I’m glad I’m not doing that anymore.
Me: What’s that?
FM: Raising a baby.
Me: The crying is definitely nerve wracking, but I love being a mom.
FM: Well, It’s one thing to say that if you can just stay at home and take care of the baby, but try working and then coming home and taking care of a kid.
(Wait for it…)
Me: Well, being a parent is hard in any situation, but I don’t remember anyone saying it was easy.
Honestly, I’m still surprised at my restraint. I still have the mark on my lip from where I bit it. BUT, that is actually what I think about the subject, sans a few profanities.
Mom’s need to get to know each other better and spend more time helping each other rather than attacking and judging each other because they think someone else has it easier than them. I’ve had many discussions with stay at home moms and working moms about their lives and struggles, all of them unique. Each lifestyle carries its own benefits and drawbacks. At the end of the day what I’ve found is the women who are happiest all agree on one thing: regardless of your situation you find a way to make it work.
To tell the truth I've never met a mom who wasn't working-I've yet to discover a mom of leisure. Many people will call BS on that and say "What about moms with nannies?!" First, I definitely cannot afford a nanny so I’m not going to spend too much time pondering the amount of extra time this might allow me. Second, she's a mom. She’s still doing the hardest job in the world. Sophia Lauren is quoted as saying, “When you are a mother you are never really alone in your thoughts. A mother always has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child.” This applies to every mom-regardless of her daily situation.
I fall somewhere in the middle of this discussion as a mom who works from home. When I tell people I’m a copywriter I love the image most people conjure of how leisurely my work days are- they usually go something like this: darling baby sits at my feet and amuses himself for hours as I type away and finish all of my writing in a few hours whilst enjoying a cup of nice, hot cup of coffee. Cue the image of the women from the ‘International Delights’ coffee commercials.
What it's actually like: darling baby plays for a half hour then wants to eat/play/nap/poop/vomit/scream for no reason, or a reason unknown to me. I attempt to hold several partially crafted sentences in my brain while attending to one of these needs. Then, when baby goes for his naps (if he feels like it), I get a few things written until it's time to prepare the next meal. In reality most of my writing has to be done after bambino is asleep for the night so my work day usually ends around 10pm. And just for the record, I have not had a cup of coffee that is hot in about 9 months.
But I don't mind. Yes I'm always tired. What mom isn’t? I'm also very happy. I’m not happy because my life is so easy- I’m happy because I’m doing what I want to do. Most people that describe themselves as happy will say the same thing. If we don’t like something about our lives we should put our energy into finding a way to change it. We shouldn’t waste our time being bitter, jealous, and judgmental because we feel someone else caught a few more breaks than we did. Maybe they did. Maybe they didn't. Either way there is not a thing to be done about it.
Julia child said, "Never complain, never explain." We create our own lives and we should live them as we see fit- complaining about things only makes us more tired. We shouldn’t feel the need to explain ourselves to those who apparently have too much time on their hands that they need to spend it worrying about what someone else is doing. So regardless of whether you feed your kid all organic home-grown produce or you steam vegetables from the freezer know this-you’re doing great. And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
If you are a parent you don’t have it easy regardless if your personal situation- and you shouldn't. Its hard work if you want to do it well and you didn't get into this because you wanted a life of leisure. You became a parent because you wanted to be a large part of watching and helping a child grow.
Moms need to talk to each other more and attack each other less. Within all of the mom communities there is a mix of women who are all dealing with their individual challenges that come along with being a parent. One particularly positive example of moms working together is a mommy and me group that offers a veritable “kids Swap” (no, it’s not like Wife Swap…though it would be hilarious to watch families swap their kooky kids for a week.) During the day Moms who were home helped out moms who were working away from home with their kids' needs. During the evening moms who worked away from home helped out by shuttling kids to after school activities and other errands.
This type of community behavior is so fruitful for moms and it's also a great example of community for kids to see. So don't judge, it makes for unsightly wrinkles. It also deteriorates a community of women who could, if not for the time spent measuring who works harder, be making each others lives just a little bit easier.