Someone said something to a friend today that really got under my skin. Because this discussion took place on aforementioned friend’s Facebook page, I responded as politely as I could while still getting my point across.
But this here is my blog, and there are a few things that I need to get off my chest.
I know that you mean well. I know this because I too have fallen into the “advice trap” and passed judgment on my fellow mothers under the guise of concern or advice. It’s tempting. Sometimes it’s not even conscious. The words just come out of your mouth or into the keyboard without a thought.
That’s why I’m writing this. We need to think before we speak or type. We are all in this together. We are all mothers. And we are all doing the best we can to raise our children to be wonderful people.
(Okay, nitpickers. I hear you saying, “What about <insert headline dead child story here>? She wasn’t doing her best!” If that’s what just ran through your head, please navigate away from my blog now.)
Are we all still here? Super.
As I was saying, we are all doing our best. Sometimes “best” doesn’t mean “perfect”. “Perfect” doesn’t exist. So please refrain from trying to tell other people that it does. This means that when mom friends express their feelings to you, whatever they are, it is not your given right to counsel them on why it’s not as bad as they think, or why they are actually lucky, or why every other mom on the planet wishes she had it as good as they do. It is not your job to tell them what they are doing wrong, or how you had it worse. Nor is it acceptable to me to sit idly by while you marginalize their feelings.
How does that help exactly? Unless your goal is to poke holes in the already fragile self-esteem of a mom who is trying to figure this whole parenting thing out, it doesn’t help at all. It is un-help.
We would be wise to start examining the societal and cultural norms that reinforce that there is only one right way to parent, because it is a disservice to ourselves and our children. There are many many ways to raise a child. My methods are not the same as yours. You are not me. My children are not the same as your children.
Sometimes I’m a great mom. Sometimes I suck. It’s all part of the deal. I’m as insecure as you are.
So here is my promise to you, moms: I will do my level best to hear you, really hear you, when you speak. I will respect your feelings, because even if I don’t necessarily understand them, they are still valid feelings and you are entitled to them. I will respect your method of parenting and ask you for the same consideration. I will try to gently remind you when you are engaging in the self-defeating behavior that I discussed here, and ask that you do the same for me.
Parenting is hard. Let’s work together. We’d be better off focusing our energy on getting national paid family leave legislation passed, like the rest of the globe (Read about Sweden’s here), than undermining other moms with our sugar-coated criticisms.
And for what it’s worth: I think you’re a good mom, and you have great kids.