My best friend and I are opposites in almost every way possible. I have 5 children. She has one (and is currently 17 weeks pregnant with her second!!). She is a healthy eater ALL the time. Me? notsomuch. She has always chosen to spend the vast majority of her days home with her now 6 year old daughter. I love my career and think staying home all day with my 3 youngest would be twice as difficult as going to work (but then I feel guilty for working...). As a result, she worries about how to pay for her daughters Christian school and I worry that I’m not home with my kids enough to teach them about BEING a Christian. It’s a fine line and as soon as you step onto either side of it, you get a whole different set of problems.
No matter how a mother mothers - working, not working (and lemme tell ya - staying home with your children is very hard work!), or finding your place somewhere in the middle, there is no wrong choice. We all have to do what’s right for our families and for ourselves. Somedays we only manage to do what's needed to survive until tomorrow. And unfortunately, when we need help the most, other mothers are our biggest critics.
Several weeks ago, I made a comment to Nic about how she won’t be a “hobby parent” anymore after her baby is born. It wasn’t meant to make her feel bad and truth be told, I blissfully remember the days when I only had one child. I wasn’t outnumbered and life was much simpler. It was easy. Well, except for back when I had only one child. Back then, it wasn’t easy. I was young, inexperienced, often worried, and very poor. My easy time was downright difficult - and it’s ironic that looking back I can readily refer to that time as a hobby of any kind.
I should clarify here, that Nic doesn’t take her parenting lightly. Nope. Her daughter got an official Tooth Fairy letter, glitter, sugar-free gum, money, and a flipping Tooth Fairy ceremony of a lifetime when she lost her first tooth a short time ago. The last time one of the kids lost a tooth at our house, they got a mumbled apology about how the Tooth Fairy MUST have skipped their tooth because they didn’t put it in an easy-to-find place. Having a friend like her has inspired me to prepare a little better for Elle’s first loose tooth. It’s hanging by a thread and I have printed out 4 Official Tooth Fairy Certificates each with a different date filled out and have a goody bag ready to go at a moments notice.
My point here is that not only do us Moms criticize one another - we can inspire one another as well. We have this giant Motherhood backbone that ties us all together - yet so many of us are focused on touting what they have and more specifically what the others don’t have. I’ll be the first to admit I’ve thought “How can you be tired? You only have a 6 year old. I have 5 kids AND I work 50 hours a week”... or “How can you be so busy? It’s just 3 of you and your schedules... not 7 like we have.”
And I’m wrong.
We might all be fighting our own battle, but we need to remember it’s the SAME war. We all want our children to grow up happy & healthy & become wonderful members of society. Just like there are many routes we can drive to get to our local Target, there are many ways to win our battles. Although, anyone with small children will KNOW you take the shortest route to Target... Duh. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could get to a point where we recognize this at all times and just be kind to one another? Inspire one another? I’ve learned so many short-cuts from my friend who has thousands of “stay-at-home” hours under her belt, but more importantly, I’ve learned to NOT take the short-cuts as often. She’s been a teacher and an inspiration - and I hope she can say the same about me.
Let’s not fight one another on our methods of madness. Let’s not pretend to have all sunshine and butterflies on the days when it rains just so other Moms will want to be us. Let’s not play the Poor Me Card because we all made choices to be where we are in our lives and if we got dealt a bad hand through no fault of our own, lets support one another just because. We’re all in this together folks. None of us any better than the last. Just different.
So because I chose to leave the house and work while you chose to stay home and work doesn’t mean either of us is wrong. If your kids will never touch red candy or sippy cups and my daughters eyes sparkle at the mere mention of Coca-Cola, it won’t make either of us a bad mom. Whether you choose to co-sleep, or have had the police called on you while you attempt to Ferber-ize your baby, all that matters is that you get somehow get some shut-eye. If you breast-fed until your son was 4 and my 4 year old still wants a bottle at night, lets try to see the common ground and keep a little humor close. As long as neither of them heads off to Kindergarten with a breast or a bottle in their lunch bag, we're doing fine. All this means is we chose different means to an end. And hopefully, somewhere at the end, you and I get to meet up for a nice big glass of wine!