5/15/12

Mothering

My belated homage to mothers everywhere begins here on the tail of my tenth Mother's Day as an actual Mom.  I enjoyed sitting out in the adirondack chair with green grass around my feet, sun warming my skin, and kids playing, making their own kool-aid, and randomly appearing in my lap to say "I love you." or  "Happy Mother's Day!"  It was all the more special, for the everyday trials of raising three children seemed to have taken a break for the day.  Everyone was happy and getting along for a slice of time.

As Mother's Day weekend came to a close, I began to think about what message I would like to send to Mothers everywhere.  What message can I send from my experience that every other mother who reads it can say simply, "yeah."  What message can I send that will lift mothers everywhere and bring us all together in love and support and understanding.  I have come up with three truths to remember about Mothers. 
  1. We are all different.
  2. No one of us is perfect.
  3. Mothering is hard, even when you are doing it right.
For all the roses, cards, visits, free lunches, and phone calls that were laid upon many a Mother over the weekend, Mothers have a tough row to how on any other day of the year.  As if Mothering is not enough of a challenge, Mothers are under what sometimes seems like constant scrutiny by people out in the real world.  From the man in line behind me in the store who saw I was already chasing two boys under the age of 5 while pregnant with my third and said, "Are you sure you want another one?"  To lady who reprimanded the kids for something I considered their good behavior at the library.  We are judged basically every minute we spend away from the safe sanctuary of our home.  But the absolute hardest judgement to take, the most cutting, and hurtful are the scowls, words, or grumbles of other Mothers.  Those are the judgements that hurt the most, because I feel other Mothers ought to know that making another Mother feel like she is doing it wrong is the absolute worst thing you can ever do to her.  Like kicking her in the teeth, when she falls.  Not ok.  (Perhaps that is a judgement on my part.  I will have to ponder that later.)

The fact of the matter is We are all different.  Every single one of us has our own list of experiences long or short, good or bad, happy or sad, rich or poor that we carry with us and that guide us in our parenting priorities and choices.  Some read books, some can't read, some follow example, some go by instinct alone, but I have to believe all mothers want what is best for their children within their own scope of understanding and vision of possibilities.  Perhaps if we all wore our lists of experiences on our shirts we would be more understanding, tolerant, and supportive of the other Mothers we meet in our lifetime.

I will admit, I have judged.   Haven't you?  I may not have been as friendly as I could have been to that Mother at playgroup who looked like she was on drugs, smoked out in front of the door, and talked on her cell rather than play with her child.  That is just not a part of my experience; not my choice of how to live, it would be easy for me to feel "right" and label her "wrong".  But guess what?  She had her child at playgroup, she knew her baby should play with other kids and learn to share and play. . .but I am also sure she read the wary looks and disapproval from other moms, (not to mention the alleged phone call to protective services reporting her). . .I haven't seen her at playgroup since.

 In another example, I wrote recently about a survey that showed 66% of parents believe ADHD is only the result of poor parenting.  Makes me think.  Do we as Mothers, parents, need so badly to feel good about our own job as mother that we must deny there could be any other explanation for a child's behavior problems than that the parent, or Mother is doing a terrible job?  Really?  Are we that insecure? Do we believe it?  Do we deep down think we ourselves are doing a bad job, so seeing a kid having a harder time than our kid feels like a relief? 

At playgroups and schools there are so many examples of Mothers judging Mothers it makes me sad.  First time moms judge the veteran moms for being lax, while the veteran moms judge the new moms for being overbearing.  The moms of girls judge the moms of boys for raising hellions.  (seen this for sure, but also have seen some exceptions here :)  Mothers of typically developing children judge the parents of children with invisible challenges (learning disabilities, adhd, spectrum disorders) for being too involved, advocating too adamantly, and offering explanations which are percieved as excuses. 

It is easy to sit in judgement of others when you feel right.  But the fact is everything is relative and parenting is no exception.  We are each as different and imperfect as the next.  For every Mother you judge, there is another somewhere watching, rolling her eyes or scoffing in judgement of you.  Let's just stop that!

Wouldn't it be just the most beautiful thing if every time we Mothers made eye contact with another Mother we could be guaranteed a moment of understanding. . ."Mothering is hard even when you are doing it right."  If this little blog could accomplish one thing, I would love it to be lots and lots and lots of Mothers reading this post and sharing it with all the Mothers they know, so that we may acknowledge to one another;  We are all different.  We are all imperfect.  Mothering is hard even when we are doing it right.  Let us be supportive of one another in our shared purpose of raising our children the best we know how to do.

 ** Momastery.com  is the blog where I first heard the quote, "Parenting is hard, even when you are doing it right")

No comments: