If I were a person who drank coffee or alcohol, today would be one of those days I would be double fisting, one in each hand. It is 7:13am. I have already been up for hours, being plagued with a child possessed with the devil called Teething. As much as I like to complain sometimes, I know I don’t have it half as bad as some other mothers. My daughter really is an amazingly perfect baby 95% of the time. Now, however, is the other 5%. The only thing keeping her from screaming this morning is a full dose of Motrin, her pacifier, and using me as a jungle gym (I am currently typing one handed). I will take it.
In my (more than) half delusional state, it got me thinking about what it takes to be a mother. I am a stay-at-home-mom. I have witnessed such a negative stigma with my current job title. I blame the Real Housewives franchise. I have had this talk with my friend who lives in Montana, and luckily (or unluckily?) it seems like the stigma is much worse here in Southern California. Thanks Real Housewives of Orange County. I have heard and seen countless stories of friends drifting (or being torn) apart because of their choices on how and when to “mom”. So many of the people I know my age have either decided not to have kids at all, are waiting until their “career is established,” or are proud of their “full time working mom” title. I get it. My mom was a single, full time working mom, so growing up I always wanted to be one myself, well sans the “single” part. I had really horrible things to say about being a SAHM, proclaiming they were lazy and only worked half as hard as FTWMs. If SAHMs were “full time moms” as they demanded to be called, then working moms had two full time jobs. Where in the world would a 10 year old get those strong negative feelings? My role models? Society? I’ll never know.
However, somewhere between college and getting married my feelings changed. I started dreaming of taking care of my children how I wanted to, becoming the idealistic mother who has a healthy dinner made from scratch on the table promptly at 6, a constantly clean house, and who does it all while always looking fabulous. I mean, Carol Brady did it, right? So could I! Now that I am over 10 months into my new gig, I have quickly learned being a SAHM looks nothing like that, as I sit here in my 3 day old pajamas, not having had a shower in days, and knowing for absolute fact I will not be doing my hair or putting my makeup on today, as I stumble around piles of laundry and toys and dirty dishes. And you know what, I am OK with not being Carol Brady. I got side eyed from friends, family, and co-workers when I announced that I was going to quit my job and stay home “for a while” to take care of my daughter. I got many “good for you!”s from moms who had been there, but I also know I was judged. Harshly. By many. Too many.
Mom judging is real. Oh, so real. While society judges us for all kinds of things, the saddest thing is we judge each other even more. I have done it. We all have. I used to judge SAHMs until I became one, I used to judge formula moms until I became one, I used to judge parents who raised kids in apartments until I became one, I used to judge co-sleepers, moms who choose modified cry it out, using the tv to babysit your kid, and moms whose only clothes are tshirts and yoga pants…until I became one of all those too.
I realized I judge other moms because I want to be the best mom I can be. That means that if how I choose to mom is the “best,” then I must prove how momming differently than me is not the best. Who am I proving this to? Myself? My family and friends? Society? Does anyone know? Maybe, all that judging I got for staying home wasn’t about me. Maybe it is about their own guilt, their own story, their own way of trying to prove that their way of momming (or choosing not to mom at all) is the best. So they can feel better about their own choices because I am the one doing it wrong, not them.
Can we all agree that what we all really want is to have the best life for ourselves and our children? We all want to be the very best moms we possibly can. We are all full time moms because I have learned being a mom is a feeling you have deep in your soul that no one but other moms understand. There are a million ways to mom, we all do it differently and no one way is better than another. We all mom how we feel is best for our family, our children, and ourselves. Popular to contrary belief, there are only 24 hours in a day. No matter how hard we try, we can’t have it all. There is just no way. The mom who looks like she has everything, does not. It is impossible. We all make sacrifices and compromises to do what we feel is best.
The mom who gets to take care of her kids all day? She left the house for the first time this week just to walk down the isles of Target. The mom who gets to spoil her children with the newest toys, the fanciest dance classes, and soccer camps? She works during the day and only sees her kids on the weekends. The mom who has the immaculate house and perfectly made dinners? She is struggling with postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, and only sleeps 2 hours per night. The mom who lost all the baby weight and always looks like she stepped out of a magazine? She has a house keeper and a food delivery service. The mom who goes on regular dates with her husband and frequent girls night outs? She didn’t get to read a bedtime story to her children while they snuggled in her arms. The mom who waited to have kids until she had a house, a successful career, and traveled the world? She is now struggling with miscarriages and IVF.
We are all compromising. We are all sacrificing. We all mom differently. We are all doing our best.
We are all full time moms.