There is a club I never knew existed five years ago. It’s called motherhood. It is the instant bond I feel with another woman, simply because there is someone in the world that refers to them as “momma.”
To say it’s unique would be an understatement. I know of no other group where the initiation rites were so different for each member.
You may have adopted, gained a child by marriage or surrogacy, or carried a little one around for months. How you made your way into the club is irrelevant. If you’re a mom, you’re in. We all paid our initiation dues in some form, and are still paying them daily.
Undoubtedly, there is no other club as diverse as motherhood.
Some are mothers to one, or a to whole brood. There are mothers who spank, mothers who emphasize “positive discipline,” and mothers who appear to appear to have no discipline strategy whatsoever. Career moms, stay at home moms, work from home moms. There are moms in the club who are single, married, in a relationship, or are raising their kids with a domestic partner.
Not surprisingly, like any group comprised solely of women of such diversity, it’s never boring. There is camaraderie, support and connection.
But there is also drama. And cattiness. And judgment.
I know this word well. I judge myself every day. As a mother, wife and person. Not a day goes by when I don’t question or reaffirm: Am I making the right choices? Am I giving enough? Am I truly a good mother?
But honestly? The judgment I feel at times from other mothers is way harsher. Sometimes I feel myself being emotionally whapped by members of the very club I love.
Whapped for letting my first child cry it out. For not letting my second child cry it out, and spoiling them. Whapped for daring to choose a career and children. Whapped for bringing in a nanny while I worked from home, because I couldn’t do it all. Or, later, for putting my kids in daycare. Whapped for wanting, as much as I love my children and being a mother, to sometimes throw in the towel and pretend, even for one hour, that I am not someone’s “mom.”
I’ve felt whapped by judgmental words directed to me, at me, and in my general direction as a reader. I’m a big girl. I try to suck it up, take a deep breath and shake it off. But still, I struggle to not take offense or internalize those words. Sometimes, it is hard not to immediately hit the reply button and leave them a nasty note telling them to take their opinion and shove it where the sun don’t shine.
Everyone has their own viewpoints. Thank God for that. A world where everyone thought or parented the same as me would be boring as hell and frankly, on Type-A overload.
I have my own opinions. A plethora of them, in fact.
I strongly believe Tofurkey is a lame excuse for meat, and belongs in the “cardboard” section of the food pyramid. I think thongs are evil, and there is nothing wrong with showing a little visible panty line. I believe Bud Light Lime is the best thing since, well, regular Bud Light.
Those opinions are easy to voice.
And I have opinions about important stuff as well, like motherhood and parenting. Very strong opinions. Sometimes I voice those, too.
But I choose my words carefully.
It’s not that I’m afraid of saying something controversial. I love healthy debate. I love reading about different opinions, choices and experiences, even when I don’t understand or relate to them. I sometimes disagree with other people’s opinions, and if I feel strongly enough about it, I occasionally say so.
But I choose my words carefully, because I firmly believe it’s not what I say, but how I say it. I can voice an opinion – and a strong one at that – but try to say it in a way that doesn’t shred someone else’s beliefs or lifestyle. As adults, we should be able to articulate our differing opinions without snark, mudslinging, finger pointing, or passing judgment on someone else’s choices as a parent.
I choose my words carefully, because I respect the club. I respect any woman who would venture into motherhood. I respect their sacrifices, their love for their families, and the fact they would lay down in front of a bus for their children. And, yes, I even respect the fact that some mothers feed their families Tofurkey.
I honestly believe there isn’t a right way to parent. The choices I make when raising my kids are the right choices… for me and my family. I make mistakes every day, and I still believe they are the right decisions… for me.
There isn’t a damn manual for how to be a good mother, partner or person. We all write our own.
And we are all in the club.
NOTE: If you read my last post, you know I am taking a self-imposed break from blogging. Obviously, that lasted all of four whole days. Hey, no one ever said breaking up was easy. Actually, this post has been clanging around in my drafted items for weeks. For various reasons, I was motivated to finally finish it today. And because inspiration is hard to come by for me these days, and the timing is right, I’m also linking this up to these sites: