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:
16 thoughts on “Motherhood is a club. And I don’t mean the whapping kind.”
I related to this since I know what it's liked to sometimes feel judged by others – in fact, I recently wrote a post about this topic as well. You mentioned, "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." EXACTLY. We make the right choices that work for our OWN family – not basing on what works for others.
What a great post! And I am so with you. There is no one right way to parent. I wish people would get that. I write about it all the time on my blog, and I'm writing about it in my new book. Hopefully, if enough of us spread the word, it will get through.Really enjoyed this…
Fantastic post! So true…sometimes us mommies can be the worst critiques to each other but I'm thankful that I had surrounded myself with other mommies with positive energies, the mean ones can hit the road! LOL! Love this post really!
I completely understand this post. I very strongly stated my beliefs, and we each get to believe what we will, but shouldn't call anyone out specifically. We all make mistakes as mothers, but we settle up with ourselves, nobody else.
Thanks, Bethany. Really. And, to be clear, the above was certainly not written in response to any one post. There were certainly recent events that motivated me to finish it, but these thoughts sprung from several experiences. I truly do love it when someone writes about something they are passionate about. Even if I don't agree with it, I do appreciate it.
i love how you talk about being whapped. i hope you come read my story that involves a little whapping too.
The thing I LOVE about the Motherhood club is that we all make our own rules! There are subchapters within the club that we may or may not fit into, and that's fine. But when any of us sees another Motherhood member in distress (crying baby at the grocery store, tantrum-throwing kid in Target) we have that secret smile that lets them know hey, we are in the same club!
Viva la VPL!I don't understand for one moment the competition that goes into parenting. Seriously — if everyone is alive at the end of the day, it is a successful day!
It's like a whole world opens when you become a mom. With some bad along with a lot of good. But it can catch you so off-guard especially when people who weren't super opinionated before you became a mom, BECOME super opinionated once you have a kid or two!Also, I agree with you on the ToFurkey/pantilines/Bud Light Lime thing. 🙂
Very honest writing. If you lived in my town, we'd be friends….xooxoo
Kay, you always put things so well. I FEEL things but usually can't express them. I'm a member of the VPL club too. OH, you were mostly talking about the Motherhood Club. I am my own worst critic but my own biggest defender too. I can take it if I'm the one dishing out the critiques on my own choices. If someone else judges me, I become a total hypocrite because I end up judging that person. I think to myself because I'm too big a coward or maybe more of a peacemaker to say out loud, "You want to give me parenting advice? Just look how YOUR child turned out! And I'm married to the guy so don't try to pretend that he's all perfect and you couldn't have done some things differently. I can think of a few things. Want a list?"I stick my foot in my mouth so often because I don't always choose my words carefully. I need to take a lesson from you. And, I need to not be a hypocrite by judging other M-hood Club members because you're right, there is no damn manual and it's hard work figuring it out sometimes!
Beautifully written! I feel like I want to stand up and give you an applause for this great piece. It is a wonderful thing the motherhood club but sometimes we can be our own worst critiques. I think it is important to learn how to agree to disagree and doing it politely and I think you have master that art perfectly!
LOVE IT. Thank you! As I'm sure you know, I was shouting Amens throughout your whole post. You said it, and you said it well, my friend.
Great post because we all need gentle reminders that we are pretty much all in this together and we should always make a concerted effort to give each other the benefit of the doubt. There is no one right way to do things…like you said what is right for your family may differ from others. Thank you for spreading the word and the kindness. Found your wonderful blog through Theta Mom!
Fantastic and well said. I wrote my own (not so eloquent) post on the judgment of other parents. It's tough enough being a mother without feeling like all the other mothers out there are ready to pull you down for your parenting techniques. And I totally agree about thongs.
AMEN! I just do not understand the harsh judgement that women give other mothers because they choose to do things differently then they would.
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