I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my role as a mother to my children. I’ve also been thinking a lot lately about my role as a mother in tandem with other mothers and how I can best uplift and edify those other mothers. Have you heard of the word “mompetition?” Sounds pretty stupid, right? Cause it is, really. But it is unfortunately a daily thing that happens in the wild and wacky world that is motherhood and parenting circa 2013. It comes in many forms, and it is almost instantaneous thanks to the wonderful
curse blessing that is social media.
And it’s made me think. Instead of accepting who someone is and where someone is in their parenting stage, we mothers seem to think we need to “one up” and “out do” each other so as to win that all important “Mother of the Year” title (I’ll just settle for the “my-kids-are-alive-and-no-one-was-seriously-maimed-today” medal, thank you very much). Newsflash everyone: motherhood is not about winning.
I read the post below on Facebook via a friend’s page, but I want to congratulate the author for taking the words right out of my mouth.
Sometimes I think Facebook is the worst thing to have happened to a mom. Well, Facebook and smart phones.
Think about it. Because of these two inventions, you can now get a look at the life of every mom you call “friend.” AND it’s all delivered instantly right to your phone. Now moms have a front-row seat to all the cookie-baking and paint projects and plenty of time to judge their own mothering skills against such. We see the handmade paper chains decorating the Christmas tree across town, and suddenly our own Target ornaments seem way too trite. The next thing you know, we’re freaked out that our own kids are going to become resentful of the handmade-ornament kids, join a ornament-hating gang, rob a Hallmark store and end up in jail serving 5 to 10. So Target mom says to ornament mom, “Why can’t you just take it down a notch????”
But it goes the other way, too. Ornament mom looks at Target mom with raised eyebrow and says, “Can’t you up your game just a bit?”
Ouch. How did we get here? Facebook? Smart phones? Maybe.
Before our lives became so easily promoted and quickly communicated, we were all in our homes doing our own thing. Coloring ornaments or opening a box. Baking cookies or opening a box. Doing life handmade or opening a box. And nobody knew, and really nobody cared. Because we were all making it work best way we knew how. Our kids were loved, and that was all that mattered.
Until we saw the way SHE was doing it. In color Instagram photos splashed across her timeline. And suddenly, what was right for us became less than. Or what was right for us became right for everyone. So our days become full of self-deprecating or self-righteous status updates as we search for some sort of validation — something, ANYTHING — to let us know we’re doing ok.
Wait — maybe that’s it. Maybe I have it wrong. Could it be that social media and technology have just given voice to what we mommas have wondered all along — am I a good enough??? Well, I’m here to tell you the answer to that question. Yes, you are. You’re a good mom. Better, you’re a rockstar mom. How do I know? Because I know you.
The one who feels guilty for going through the drive-thru for the third time this week. And you, the one who makes sure there are vegetables at every meal. And you, the one who buys birthday treats at the grocery store on the way to school. And you, the one who stays up literally all night decorating birthday cookies. You for whom the words “art project” mean markers (on a good day) and a coloring book. And you, the Pinterest addict whose kids are always covered in paint.
You are an amazing mother.
You’re crafty. You hate playdough. You serve chicken nuggets. You raise chickens. You read every food label. You serve artificially flavored and colored cereal for breakfast. You homeschool. You public school. You have spotless floors. You are trying even now to remember the last time you mopped. You work. You stay at home. You make beds. You make messes. You turn on Dora. You don’t own a television. You make stuff. You buy stuff.
You live in big houses and little house with lots of kids or one kid with dogs and cats and wooden toys and noisy toys and candy and fruit, and you drive mini vans and SUVs while wearing snot-stained sweats or wedge heels and you do it absolutely beautifully, and your children adore you because you were made to be their mom.
Yes, you. No one can do this thing better than you. Fight for that. Contend for it. Remember it on your worst days and your best days. And when you see HER doing her thing, high-five her. Thumbs-up her. (Because, trust me, she needs that today.) And when you give her props, do it without losing yourself. Without doubting yourself.
No one can do this better than you. No one.
So go ahead and post your picture of your kids eating hand-ground, organic beef burgers. And you post yours of your kids opening their Happy Meals. And I pledge to look (with non-judgmental eyes) beyond the food to see the sweet, little face in the background.
And I promise I will smile and think, “That kid has an awesome mom.”
Wasn’t that perfect? So grateful for people out there who are more elegant at putting their thoughts into words than I am.
High five to all you mamas out there doing your thing today and every day.