let’s skip the mommy wars
She has that look — a shell of the formerly vibrant, social woman clinging to her last rope, reaching for a shred of hope as the overwhelming waves of chaos crash toward her again. I know it well. She’s usually in the back row of my parenting presentations, or quietly listening at the moms’ social outing, and she needs someone to tell her things are going to be okay.
She may be the mother of a colicky baby, a defiant toddler, a learning-challenged fourth grader or a rebellious teen. She may have wonderful, well-adjusted children but still feel completely overwhelmed by it all. She also might be a he, of course, who feels like he’s the only one out there forging uncharted territory. She might get paid to work (or not), but it doesn’t matter. She loves her child with every ounce of her soul, and she treasures those moments of joy, but she still feels like she can’t pull it together like all the other parents seem to do.
I know this woman because I have been there. I am she, and she is we, and we need to do a better job reaching out to that person.
Parenting is one of life’s most rewarding and toughest challenges, and anyone who says otherwise is not telling the whole story. Yes, some flow through it more naturally than the rest of us do, but I don’t think it was ever meant to be easy. Perfect parenting is a myth. June Cleaver and Carol Brady do not exist in the real world, and the SuperNanny doesn’t even have her own children. The difficulty isn’t necessarily bad: parenting is a great opportunity to for adults to stretch and learn beyond our imagination, and working through tough challenges is an amazing way to grow.
But I don’t believe we’re meant to face that challenge in a vacuum. We need a friend to hear about our latest episode and offer ideas to face the next one. We need someone to help us see the long view and assure us that we didn’t scar our child for life this morning. We need a frequent reminder that kids are resilient, that our mistakes are forgiven and that next time, we will respond better. We need a friend who pulls us out of that ocean of diapers and tantrums and shines light on the moments we can laugh about and celebrate. We can’t expect all that from one person: we need a community of grace.
So let’s make a pact to skip the judgement, finger pointing and mommy wars. Let’s stop competing over food, child care, schools and activities. Let’s reach out to one another and offer support.
What if we sat next to that woman in the back row and listened to her story? What if we reached out to the parent whose child misbehaves in school? What if we remembered how hard it is to simply get out the door with young children and congratulated that mom for a job well done?
Just for today, let’s stop pretending we have all the answers. Let’s hold back our judgment and encourage one another. It will make a huge difference to that struggling parent. And I bet it will make your day a little brighter too.
It works for me.