Have you heard – there’s a lot of pressure and competition among Moms these days. Apparently way more than there ever has been before.
According to Heather Havrilesky, who wrote about Our “Mommy” Problem in the New York Times:
Motherhood is no longer viewed as simply a relationship with your children, a role you play at home and at school, or even a hallowed institution. Motherhood has been elevated — or perhaps demoted — to the realm of lifestyle, an all-encompassing identity with demands and expectations that eclipse everything else in a woman’s life.
I understand that Pinterest and all of its crafting projects, homemade baby food recipes and from scratch gluten-free meals may be off-putting. Pictures on Facebook of the genius Halloween costumes made by hand, the Elf on the Shelf insanity that grips the nation during the Christmas season (I am so GLAD I missed that) and the constant avalanche of information probably don’t make motherhood any easier for parents of young kids nowadays ( how old do I sound???). Nope, I wouldn’t want to be dealing with all of that, and I sympathize.
But you know what? It was hard when my kids were little too, pre-internet. And, despite the fact that the author’s mother apparently spent her time chain smoking and eating cherry pie, I would bet her mother felt some pressure also.
Motherhood is hard.
So why make it worse by bristling at being referred to as “Mom,” as Ms. Havrilesky does? Why get defensive about the fact that, while amongst other moms (and a few grandparents and dads), the soccer coach refers to you as “Moms”? Why be bothered that the doctor calls you “Mom” when you bring your children to see him? This is what Ms. Havrilesky has to say:
The Mommy bow chafes because it’s at once cloying and rife with contradictions. On TV and in movies and in modern fiction, mothers are frequently portrayed as protective yet focused on the trivial, wise yet neurotic, sexy yet sexless, monumentally important but deeply silly.
Really? I don’t know. It seems to me that being known as someone’s Mom/Mommy/Mama is an honor, not an annoyance. “Don’t call me Mommy unless I’m YOUR Mommy,” is the battle cry of young mothers everywhere. Don’t demean me by referring to me as my children do, mothers shout. Don’t insult me by not calling me by my name, they plead. Don’t belittle me by forgetting that I AM A PERSON, not simply a Mommy, young mothers yell. This is what so many mothers, including the author, are upset about these days.
Motherhood isn’t easy. And in many ways, if you’re doing it right, you are giving up a lot of yourself. You have to, in order to give enough to your children. That’s just how it is. Your children can’t appreciate it when they’re small because it’s simply what they know. Being selfless and immersed in motherhood is a privilege, not a problem. If being referred to as “So-and-so’s Mom” is a downside, it’s not really that big of a deal, is it? There are lots worse things that can happen to a mother than being known as…a mother.
I chalk it up to insecurity and inexperience. These moms don’t have to be one of the lunatics whose children are always perfectly dressed and have a healthy, homemade lunch that they actually eat every day (and what is up with the bento box lunches??).
There’s no rule that says these mommies have to be the committee chair, room mom, field trip chaperone or anything else. They may not realize it when their kids are little, but eventually, as they get older, and their worlds get larger, they’ll understand that they can lighten the heck up. And they’ll start to miss those days when their kids were littler and their lives were filled so completely with motherhood – maybe not all the time, but sometimes they will.
There were crazy moms when my kids were little, back in the dark ages of the 1990s. We may not have had Pinterest and Facebook, but we had friends and family, teachers and coaches and neighbors, TV shows, magazines, books and movies, all pointing out what a crappy job we were doing with our kids – if we chose to look at it that way.
Some days, I was such a miserable and horrible mother that I knew I was raising children headed for prison or bound to be unemployed social outcasts.
Some days, it seemed as if every single parent in the world was doing a better job and my kids were just going to have to muddle through life because I:
- didn’t make dinner
- didn’t iron their clothes
- made them buy lunch
- never learned to sew
- yelled too much
- ignored them
- spoiled them
- let them watch too much TV
- talked on the phone for hours
- didn’t take them to the park
- forgot to check their homework
- fed them junk food
- let them skip their bath
I just basically blew the motherhood thing…some days.
In spite of it all, my kids are pretty great adults, even with my millions of mistakes, big and small. There are some days when I would give anything to have someone refer to me as “Mom” again – on a soccer field, in a classroom, at the pediatrician’s office, at the grocery store. I miss those two little people by my side, bickering or laughing or even whining, asking for more, better, extra, just one, just one more, even-steven. Those children were what gave my life meaning and purpose for a long time. Those children were everything.
There are some days when I miss being in the world as “Mom” to my young kids more than I ever thought I would.