As I was waiting in the checkout line at the grocery store, I browsed over the magazine covers and one in particular caught my eye. I couldn’t believe what I saw. It had various pictures of Hollywood moms with ratings, like A- or D+ next to their names. These were action shots of them doing normal, every day things with their kids, mind you. Some of these pictures had subtitles accusing the mom of yelling too much or rushing her children. Others showed more flattering photos of a star-mom kissing her baby, all while looking fabulous, and she was dubbed sweet and caring.
As I stood there, with my mouth gaped wide open out of sheer disgust, I realized that I was giving this cover way too much attention, just as that magazine company was probably hoping I, and many other moms, would do. If we are honest with ourselves, we have done this to our mommy friends on occasion. No, we probably haven’t said it out loud or written it down, but we have said it in our minds loud and clear. I think that sometimes we have this unspoken mommy-gauge keeping score in our minds when we think things like…
“My goodness, Cindy sure gripes at her kids a lot, and they kind of act like monkeys. She probably didn’t read enough of that book that we all know we are supposed to read that clearly explains how to be the perfect parent with step-by-step instructions along with pictures and details on how to handle every kind of child, personality, home situation, and dilemma. Wow, I am so glad I did!”
Or, we might think…
“Please, stop staring at me and my CRAZY kids! I can’t control them. Why can’t they act like Sheri’s kids? She and her husband sure trained them right. Why didn’t I read that book that we all know we are supposed to read that clearly explains how to be the perfect parent with step-by-step instructions along with pictures and details on how to handle every kind of child, personality, home situation, and dilemma? I am sure they did.”
Either way, we aren’t doing ourselves any favors, and we certainly aren’t helping each other. Honestly, I think all moms would benefit from more encouraging words and less stares. Gawking eyes have never made me a better mom, and if anything, they’ve made me feel more insecure and a little cray cray, if you know what I mean.
The other day, I had planned to go to one of my favorite discount stores to buy some additional Christmas decorations…yes, I am one of those that thinks Christmas can’t get here fast enough. After a pretty frustrating day, I decided that I was going to turn the day around by taking my six year-old, Connor, and sleepy two year-old, Chandler, along. I started getting Chandler out of his car seat and into the stroller, and suddenly, he became a contortionist (a pretty gifted one actually….like on the level of a future gymnast or cirque de soleil performer), and there was no way I could get him in there. So, I did what any good mom does, and I started telling him that he will NOT do this and he MUST get into his stroller right NOW. And, suddenly, he looked at me and said, “I’m so sorry, Mother, I will sit down”. Then, we had the best time shopping together!
Instead, he bent his back and kicked his legs, and said “No, Mommy! No!” Meanwhile, Connor was waiting, impatiently beside the van saying, “Can we go in now?” I continued with Chandler and suddenly realized that another mom was standing there audaciously gawking at me; no smile, no anything, just gawking. I snapped. I put Chandler back in his car seat, told Connor to get back in the car, collapsed the stroller, and slammed the trunk closed with an intense “I am not doing this right now!” I think I probably threw the spy mom a sinister smile and a quiet “your welcome to feel better about your parenting now” expression. It was not one of my more patient or nicer moments.
When we feel another mom’s eyes burning, like lasers through our backs, we feel nervous and judged, and then, we start this kind of “mommy war”. We think, “okay, that was bad, but I am not as bad as _____________”. Is that really how we are supposed evaluate our mom skills? I don’t think so, but I am guilty of it too.
In Luke 11:46, Jesus is addressing the pious Pharisees over their judgmental behavior and says
“And you experts in the law, woe to you,
because you load people down with burdens
they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will
not lift one finger to help them.”
This is sobering when I think about how I have been on both sides of the mommy wars and sometimes acted as a Pharisee rather than Christ-like when I have seen a mom in crisis.
When we see a stressed out mom at her wit’s end, why can’t our first inclination be to offer her some help or an encouraging word? If she is trying to push a highchair to the table at a restaurant while juggling multiple kids, we can help her get the high chair to the table. If she’s pushing a cart up an incline in a supermarket parking lot along with a screaming baby, lets help her get the cart to her car and unload her groceries while she soothes the baby. I can’t tell you how many times the “I have been there” smile from a fellow mom has calmed me down and made me laugh instead of cry. Every mom has been there, and if you honestly have no idea what I am talking about right now, just wait. It’s coming.
Someone once said, “Mothering is not for the faint of heart”. Yeah, that’s the understatement of the century. It’s tough, so let’s be burden-lifters instead of burden-builders. Besides, our families are the ones who benefit the most from a calmer, cooler mom who is doing the best she can and not worrying about what any other mom thinks. And, in case you haven’t heard this in awhile, please know that you are an AMAZING child of God, and he will never give you more than you can handle, including your role as mother AND friend of mothers. So, how about it? Let’s end these “mommy wars” for good.
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock