Mothers-We are not the enemy
Updated: Sep 16, 2019
This week I want to have a real fire side chat with you.
There might be a bit more sass than normal coming from me but it’s time we talked about it.
Comparison: The Motherhood Chapter
When it comes to motherhood there are literally endless combinations of the many choices that we have to make. Breast vs Bottle, swaddle/ don’t swaddle, sleep schedules, routines, sound machines, bed sharing, bassinet, crib, rocking, crying it out, rice cereal, sanitizing soothers when they fall, being loud when they are sleeping/being quiet when they are sleeping and on and on and freaking on! And that is only when they are newborn! It just gets worse as they get older, milk vs formula, soother vs no soother, or no soother past a certain time limit, bed times, parenting styles, potty training, eating, tv or screen time, how much attention we give them when they fall down, how we handle hitting, do we let kids figure out an argument over a toy on their own or do we step in? and it just keeps going. Let’s be real, it’s freaking exhausting! Add into that the pressure of needing to feel like you are making the right decision and it’s enough to make you run away from home. Making these decisions is hard enough, we don’t need to add on the extra pressure of trying to please other moms as well… or having to tip toe around our own choices when we are around certain people. (Just because we don’t parent the same does not make us enemies!)
We should all understand by now that every child, mother, father, economic situation, set of religious beliefs and parenting styles are going to be different. Yet we still compare our child, our situation, our relationship and our financial abilities with other moms. Show of hands if you have ever unfairly judged yourself against another mother 🙋♀️? I myself have done this countless of times. When I struggled to breast feed but fought tooth and nail through cracked nipples, bleeding, biting, clogged ducts and more tears than I ever could have imagined, I compared myself to mothers who had it “easier”. I even questioned why some mothers who bottle fed didn’t fight harder… I’m not proud of that brief window in time but I’m honest. I still struggle with this idea of a clean home and compare my messy 6-bedroom house (with 2 big dogs and 2 cats) against my friends clean 1-bedroom apartment that looks like it should be in a realtor magazine. It can be really hard not to compare, but it seems extra hard not to compare when it comes to being a mother. It starts from the time you try to conceive. You might take longer than a friend of yours and you think (what is wrong with me?). You get pregnant and maybe don’t suffer morning sickness as hard as your sister, but you end up with more heartburn. We compare belly sizes and where the placenta sits and baby heartbeats. We even move into whether or not you choose to find out the gender or not. Then comes the birth story, we try to ask as many mothers as possible what their experience was like, hoping for some insight into what we are going to experience.
So, by the time the baby actually comes we are already in comparison preset mode, except that now for some reason we compare for the sake of winning. Thinking that someone always has to “win” by doing “the right thing”. Whatever the hell that means! One person’s baby is sleeping through the night at 4 weeks old, while another is struggling with a full night’s rest at 2 years old. Does that make the first mother a better mother somehow? NO!! It’s like comparing apples to oranges. Yes, they are fruit but they are completely different. Sure, they are both mothers, but they are dealing with two different children, as well they are also two different mothers. Or god forbid that stupid percentile scale and where your child lands on it! We are set up to think that our kid is failing if they are below a certain line or that we are failing if they are way above the average line. We are programed to compare rather than to love and celebrate or to hug and support and it needs to change. Just because a mother shares her success with you, whether that’s breast feeding, sleeping, potty training etc, that does not mean that you are a failure. Let me say that again, ANOTHER MOTHERS SUCCESS DOES NOT MEAN THAT YOU ARE A FAILURE! It also sure as hell doesn’t mean that she is SAYING that you are a failure. If she is directly saying that… well honey you just send her our way, we will handle it 😉. We need to be able to be vulnerable and open with other mothers and share the dark, scary, heartbreaking times but we also need to be able to share our wins and be able to receive just as much love from each other than when we were in a dark place. Motherhood is not a competition. There is no Finish Line. We literally all feel like we are failing at some point.
Let’s talk about Bad Moms and the common lies we tell ourselves.
Just because you choose to feed your kid formula until they are 3 instead of milk, DOES NOT MAKE YOU A BAD MOM
Just because you decided to bedshare and someone else didn’t, THAT DOES NOT MAKE YOU A BAD MOM
Just because you breast feed and someone else couldn’t or chose not to, THAT DOES NOT MAKE YOU A BAD MOM
Giving your kid a soother until they are 3 verses someone who takes their child’s away at 1 year, DOES NOT MAKE YOU A BAD MOM
Just because you decided to circumcise and another mom didn’t, DOES NOT MAKE YOU A BAD MOM
Just because you got your daughters ears pierced, DOES NOT MAKE YOU A BAD MOM
Just because you still rock your child to sleep every night, while someone else’s kid goes to bed without a fuss, DOES NOT MAKE YOU A BAD MOM
Just because you feed your kid McDonalds while another mom feeds her children only organic foods, DOES NOT MAKE YOU A BAD MOM
Cuddling your kid after they get a boo boo while another mom might tell their kid to walk it off, DOES NOT MAKE YOU A BAD MOM
Breastfeeding with a cover on while other moms openly feed, DOES NOT MAKE YOU A BAD MOM
Cuddling your baby “too much” to calm them verses a mom who uses the CIO method, DOES NOT MAKE YOU A BAD MOM
They funny thing about all of that is… it doesn’t make them a bad mom either. HELL, THESE THINGS DON’T MAKE ANY OF YOU A BAD MOM! If you think that of your mom friends, then maybe that makes you a bad friend 🤷♀️ but not a bad mom. Honestly ladies let’s get real with ourselves. Just because you do something different than another mom that does NOT make either of you the enemy. We are all literally trying to survive wild motherhood and our children are constantly changing and adapting, so shouldn’t we? Must we be so defensive in our own choices that we forget that our child might not even follow our plan? In fact, they probably won’t?
Have you ever thought that you will be constantly learning for the rest of your parental life? Think about it, you have literally never experienced this time period before. You have never been the parent of a newborn or a toddler or a school aged little one before? Even when you have more than one child. You have never experienced a toddler and a newborn at the exact same time. Plus, each kid is an individual and has their own preferences for literally everything. You will NEVER be at a point where you know everything there is to know. So maybe you chose to bed share with your first, and with your second one it wasn’t possible. Maybe you couldn’t breastfeed with your first but you were able to pump and bottle feed, but with your second you couldn’t pump so you fed them formula. So, if you were to take that same mentality and try to compare… which time were you a bad mother?
Something to think about isn’t it?
Because the real answer is NEITHER! You were not a BAD mother; you were a MOTHER. You did what had to be done. If we take a broad look at all of this, do you really think it is fair to compare your journey to someone else’s? Even your old self? Understanding that we are all going through our own journeys, is it safe to say that what works for one might not work for another? And isn’t that just perfectly fine? You see when we compare ourselves to other people in a negative light; their baby sleeps through the night and mine doesn’t, that must mean I am doing something wrong; I am a bad mother. You automatically make that person superior to you. The biggest problem with thinking that you are LESS THAN or that you are inferior in some way to someone else, is that it automatically means that you feel superior to someone else. Let me say that again. If you think you are inferior to one person, that means you feel superior to someone else. When we start realizing and treating each other as equals we can start to take pride and celebrate our own journeys as well as others, even when they are different.
If you have women in your life that gossip about other mothers and the way they are trying to handle their own shit, just my opinion but find some other mom friends. Love them anyway, but move on because life is too god damn short to have people like that influence you. You are who you associate with and if you feel like you always have to walk on egg shells or that you aren’t going to pump each other’s tires up when life gets you down then find another place for your energy. You only have so much bandwidth to spend on other people, don’t feel bad if you can’t spend that bandwidth on negative Nancy’s. Mothers are not the enemy, and girl if there is a mother in your life who is actually treating you like the enemy then run the other way! If you feel like you can’t celebrate a success or a little victory in your life with someone because they might feel attacked by your success, love them but honey move on! NEVER dim your light so that others can stay in their darkness! Love those mamas but don’t dull your shine for them, because you have no idea how many other people are counting on your light!! Each and every time we share our stories, our little victories, our moments of overcoming as well as our moments of feeling defeated, we give another mother hope. Hope that she can have those little wins herself, or that she isn’t alone and that motherhood isn’t always a happily ever after Instagram story.
What if we took that energy of comparing and invested it into making genuine life long friendships? What would that do for your community? Mothers stand with mothers!
Mama Wolff xoxo