Sometimes I look in the comment sections and think the mommy wars are over. I see a lot of “You do you!” cheers and “Good for you!” kind of sentiments.
Then of course, I’m reminded that the downright nasty stuff is still there, when I read things like, “No wonder your child is suicidal. I would be too if I had a mother like you.”
I’ve learned to not get too wrapped up either kind of remarks.
But if you scroll a little further through the comment thread, you’re bound to see something a little less obvious in every one. It’s there, and it’s seething, even when you least suspect it. It’s a mommy war of generations. One that’s between the seasoned moms, who have been there, done that, and the newbie moms — who are still in full-on survival mode, just trying to make it through.
And let me tell you, it’s not pretty.
I find so much support from other moms of my generation, and I find support from older generations, too. But man does it seems like the seasoned moms just can’t help themselves, adding a caveat to nearly every piece of encouragement. A caveat that — in all sincerity — is really just a judgment, slipped in there in disguise.
It usually goes down a little something like this …
“Enjoy every second.”
“It all goes by so fast.”
“I wish I could have one more moment with my kids.”
“I just loved when my kids were that age!”
“Make sure to put down your phone and watch your kids … ”
“LOOK AT THEM instead of doing the eleventy billion other things begging for your attention. LOOK AT THEM. SEE THEM. DO YOU SEE HOW CUTE YOUR KIDS ARE!? HOW LITTLE??!!!”
See what I mean?
How ’bout we all calm down for a minute and give ourselves a reality check? Because no, I do not believe parenting is meant to be enjoyed every single second — and not everyone else does, either.
But while we’re on the subject, here’s what we do know:
Yes, it goes so fast. Very aware of that one, because kids do in fact grow up. This is evidenced by the fact that I was once a kid, and now I’m a grown-up. They don’t stay little forever. Pretty sure we know that based on scientific fact and evidence that people grow up. Just like kittens are only cute for about a year, kids grow up too. Luckily, moms think they’re cute forever.
No, you didn’t always love your kids when they were 3 and flailing around on the floor in Target, or smearing poop on every surface of your home. You’ve just forgotten that you didn’t love it all the time. Or if you haven’t forgotten, you’ve forgotten that it would have bugged the crap out of you to have someone tell you that, especially when you were in a very real moment that wasn’t enjoyable — like the five-hour-long bedtime routine you go through every night. It’s impossible to enjoy every second. So no need to remind me to do something that you did not do yourself.
Which brings me to my next point, which is: All moms “see” their kids. We have about a million moments a day when we see them, enjoy them, and set aside the laundry, bills, or dishes to play with them. We give in to the request for one more story. We notice those chubby fingers and soak up the bedhead, and happy coos and giggles. Every mom sees her kids. And, even though you’re afraid I’m not seeing them? Don’t worry; I am. Maybe I need to pinky-swear promise to you? Maybe it’s not when you see me looking at my phone in that one second, but trust me, I’m seeing them. Daily. (Let’s be honest. It’s partially because you’re constantly reminding me to.)
And also, there’s this: Raising kids today is different than it once was for our parents. I didn’t say harder; I just said different. Parenting is hard whether you were living "Little House on the Prairie"-style, or living today. But, it’s different now. There is a lot of pressure not just from ourselves, but from everyone. Watching us, judging us. And what we need more than anything is some encouraging words, or a helping hand. Not another person pointing out that we’re not enjoying it enough.
But I’m not allowed to remind the older moms of any of this. If I do, then I’m ungrateful and the epitome of everything that is wrong with this next generation of parents.
No. Just no. There is a reason why seasoned moms see things differently in the rear view. Sometimes those rose-colored glasses they’re wearing can block their true memories.
Of course, I know that not all of these mamas are trying to shame us with their words, but this is how it makes us newbies feel. So if I could tell the seasoned moms of the world one thing, it would be this: Remember that you have a different perspective now because you were once me. You were once tired and frazzled and strung out from no sleep and too many kids.
You were once the mom who had to potty-train and watch some movie on repeat 85 days in a row.
You were once the mom who was looking at the clock and begging for it to be bedtime.
You did it. You got there. They graduated or went away to college or got married, and you made it. And, I’m happy for you — truly. But no, you didn’t enjoy every second on your way to getting there, and it’s okay that I won’t, either.
You probably have some regrets because you see now what I can’t yet see. But please don’t rob me of the chance to see it in my own way, in my own time. Don’t constantly shroud motherhood experience in guilt-laden comments because you’re sad that your own experience of raising littles is gone.
It’s time to let this mommy war go. I know where you’re coming from, seasoned moms, and I get it. You’re coming from a place where you wish you had one more second. You wish you would have enjoyed it a little more. You wish you would have slowed down when you had the chance.
But, guess what? All mothers will feel that way, no matter how much time we spend soaking it up, enjoying it, playing, baking bread from scratch, or neglecting all our chores to look at our kids.
There is no such thing as mothering without regrets. So let me mother like you mothered. Let me learn the hard way, I guess. Let me do my best without telling me to do better, or to see more, or to slow down more.
MORE MORE MORE.
That’s what you’re ultimately telling me in all those caveats you always add. You’re telling me to be more, to do more, and to accomplish more.
Because whatever I’m already doing is apparently not enough.
But don’t you realize, that it’s never enough? That’s the heartbreaking though beautiful part of this parenting journey, after all. We learn and we grow and we mature into the moms that can now look back and wish there was one more second. But time is our enemy no matter how hard we’re looking at our kids.
Believe me, we’re already trying pretty damn hard as it is, and we don’t need the reminders every minute that it goes so fast. What we do need is just a simple, “Don’t worry. You’ll get there. You’re doing a great job.”
At least, I know I do. Even if I’m looking at my phone the moment you happen to notice I’m not looking at my kids. Because chances are, I already “looked” 43 times before you noticed me.
And yes, I’m doing the best I can.