This post originally appeared at theglenngroup.com
|You think she's gonna drop the baby, don't you?|
(Photo from shutterstock.com)
A woman is rarely judged as harshly as she is the day she enters motherhood. When the first sign of a baby bump appears–earlier than three months along for some of us–she is met with a barrage of advice, criticism, complaints and "You know what I heard?" statements. If she even looks at a plate of California rolls, screeches of, "You can't eat sushi!! The baby will die of mercury poisoning!!!" ring out. Not to mention what happens if a tray of Camembert cheese is nearby…
I had barely found myself out of my first trimester before I was faced with mom-judgment. I reached out to an acquaintance who was also pregnant. She and I weren't friends but I thought that by being pregnant at the same time, we would be kindred spirits. However, this was before I learned that pregnant can really bring out the crazy. "We're sending our child to *insert preschool with a PHILOSOPHY here*, not *company-subsidized onsite daycare*. We want our baby to actually have a chance in the real world," she said one day over decaf, non-fat lattes.
Ouch. We're talking about newborns, right?
Immediately I was awash with guilt. Was there something wrong with *company-subsidized onsite daycare*? I mean, I wanted my kid to have the best chance, too, but at the same time I thought my priority should be giving her a name that won't get her picked on throughout grade school.
Society is tough on moms. If you're a working mom, you're letting someone else raise your kids. If you're a stay-at-home mom, you're unambitious and lazy. If you work part-time, you fit in nowhere because you seem to have this utopian lifestyle of being home as much as being at work and you have perfect nails. That alone will make every mom out there hate you.
What happened to "It takes a village to raise a child?" Now it's, "You better do this right because if your kid even looks at my kid sideways I will have them thrown off the playground." It's like moms always have to one-up each other to make themselves feel better.
To a working mom, the worst question to be asked isn't, "Are you sleeping yet?" or "Why has it taken you over two years to lose the baby weight?" or "Have you seen how fab Beyonce looks already?" Although those questions should never ever never be asked, the absolute worst one is, "How do you juggle it all?" Because as Tina Fey wrote in her bestseller Bossypants, the inquirer is really implying, "You're fucking EVERYTHING up, aren't you?" After feeling overwhelmed and wondering how I do juggle it all, I realized that I was seeking out the answer for what everyone else thought of me. I've succumbed to the unrealistic expectation that being a working mother means I have to be 100% of everything to everyone 100% of the time. As a result, I'm judging myself more harshly than anyone else is. Of course I'm fucking everything up! It's hard having all of these spinning plates. So I had a wake-up call to figure out what's most important and what can wait. Indefinitely.
I now know the two spinning plates that should never fall are the ones labeled FAMILY and WORK. I want my daughter to be happy, well-loved and respectful. I want my husband to remain my best friend. I want to be good at my job because it's fulfilling to be mentally stimulated and working is part of my identity. All of the other plates labeled with things like LAUNDRY, DESIGN CLUB, VOLUNTEERING, VACUUMING, GARDENING, CALLING OLD FRIENDS YOU HAVEN'T HEARD FROM IN YEARS, ETC. can wait.
Working has made me a better parent. I enjoy my time with my daughter. But I also know that she needs to grow and learn in her own environment. She loves being around other kids every day and is quite smart and social. And the hug accompanied by, "MOMMY!!!" that I get when I pick her up from daycare gives me something to look forward to all day.
The unexpected other side to this is how being a mom has made me a better worker. I can maintain a level head in my on-the-job responsibilities. (Except for when the printer breaks and I have an RFP due in two hours. Then I just may lose it.) I'm way more organized than I was before I became a mom. And I'm a much better communicator now. I can multi-task better than I ever thought I could. In short, becoming a mom is the best thing I could have done for my career.
Moms shouldn't be in competition with each other. We shouldn't judge each other. We're all in this together.
Being a good mom is about loving your children unconditionally, yet doing your part to raise happy and well-adjusted members of society. Enough with the judgment. If your child is happy eating organic, free-range strawberries and my child is happy eating sand, does it really matter in the long run? As long as they're happy and they're eating, I wouldn't complain.