12/13/2013

MOM VS MOM


At any given time there are at least twenty thoughts running through my mind that could warrant a lengthy blog post.

Like right now, for example. Right now I could write about:

my obsession with subway's seafood sandwiches.
all of this weeks "swept me off my feet" moments with Jace, and my love for age TWO.
my opinion on the chevron pattern that everyone seems to love. (hint: i don't get it.)
a grand wishlist of my favorite items this winter. (and that's a good one, so it's coming soon!)
neutrals. you know, like the colors. blacks and whites and greys and creams, and my love for them.
why driving in busy traffic makes me happy.
how much research i've put into the cost of opening a hot dog stand.

Do you see what I mean? And those are just a very FEW. If you could peek into my mind, your brain would explode. It's a mess in there.

But here I am because last night the hubs and I had a short discussion that comes up often at our house, and it hasn't left my mind. It's a weight in the midst of my many thoughts and opinions. So I'm here today to write about that. I've talked about it before and I just can't promise that I won't talk about it again. Hashtag sorrynotsorry.

You see. I'm this giant hippie "let's all love each other and group hug and just get along, okay?" kind of person. I'm a push over because I hate confrontation. I'm an agreeable person because I can often see the points to any side of any debate. I just love everyone. I really do! Except, no I don't. I really, really have a hard time loving the kardashians. But hey, I never said I was perfect.

One thing that my hippie-loving-self was thrown into just under three years ago (but just over three years, if we count pregnancy and now that I think about it, we definitely should count pregnancy!):
mom versus mom wars.

And all I keep thinking is, how ridiculous are these silly wars? Isn't being a mom just as hard, no matter who you are or how you do it?

Two and a half years ago we moved into our new home with a four month baby in tow. When we moved in, I quickly noticed the group of mom friends that lived on the block. They all had at least two kids in their families, they were all in their mid thirties, and they all sat on each others porches and chatted in the mornings and the afternoons while the kids played. And again when school started up just a month later, they carpooled and had playdates with the young kids while the older kids were at school.

And they hated me.

Now that might be harsh and it might even be untrue. Maybe they didn't hate me. But not only did they make sure not to include me in "the group", they also made it a point not to wave at me or talk to me or look at me if they could help it.

They gave the impression that they hated me.

"I always wave at them on my way to work, and they never ever wave back. Not once have they waved back." I told Dan one day.

"Well that's their problem. Just make sure you keep waving." He replied.

And so I did. I always waved, and they never waved back. When I would take mister J on walks in his stroller on our days off, they would avoid eye contact with me and only sometimes could I get a "hello" from them, after which they were quickly back to their own business.

It was the darndest thing!

Now I can't be sure, but I can be almost sure that if I were a stay-at-home-mom like them, I would have been accepted into the group. I was shunned because, well I suppose because I wasn't like them? I was younger and newer and I worked outside of the home for heavens sake. I took my baby to daycare while I worked, and that's just not the life they saw fit.

(it should be noted that since then, I have made some great friends in my neighborhood with great women who have more in common with me, and that's been nice.)

One of my very best friends who is also a working mom had the same experience when her daughter started kindergarten. A certain group of stay at home moms would stand in the hallways of the school to drop off their kids, chatting about going out to brunch or getting together for crafts later on, and when my friend walked by they would hush and stare and glare. It was like the cliques of middle school all over again.

And I even know SAHMs who feel left out from the working mom clique that they are surrounded by. It goes both ways.

Since having a baby, I've heard the question at least a thousand times, when running into someone I just met or someone I haven't seen in a long time. I found it to almost always be the second question they would ask.

First, "Oh how old is your baby?" And then they would quickly follow with, "Do you work or do you stay at home?"

Isn't it funny how many people ask that? How many people think it to be such a very important question to ask?

So of course I answer, "I went back to work", and they most often reply:
"Oooh I'm sorry."
"Oooh that's too bad."
"Oooh no. Well I hope one day you can be as lucky as I was and be able to afford to stay at home."

To which I always think: do people not know that women can work because they want to? Not because they need to? I mean, it's possible because it happens like...all of the time. And I also think, do people still think we live in the 18th century? I'm confused.

(I suppose this reply to me could be compared to when a SAHM tells someone that they stay home with the kids, and the reply is: "What do you DO all day? I would go crazy!")

And with every person who "felt sorry for me" and leaked judgement out of their eyes, I found my self-confidence withering. I found myself ashamed. I often debated with myself in my head, over and over again. I knew that our life was good and that this felt right for my family, but I also knew that most of the people I was surrounded by thought that it wasn't right for us.

How do other people know what's right for me? I would ask myself. Of course they don't, I would remind myself, and I would continually tell myself to stop caring what anyone else thought. But it was easy to say and not so easy to do.

So I continued to be ashamed. I dreaded the question, "Do you work?", because I dreaded the judgement. I knew what they thought and I as much as I tried, I couldn't let it not get to me. Suddenly this guilt started weighing on my heart. And with every person that didn't agree with my decision to go back to work, I repeated this sentence to myself: I am a bad mother.

I didn't realize it at the time, but I was letting others opinions change my mind on what I truly felt in my heart to be good. Have you ever done that? What a stupid but oh so human thing that we do.

It almost took two years before I finally snapped out of this. I stopped debating with myself in my head, and I truly stopped caring so much about what anyone else thought. I knew what I knew to be right and it wasn't dependent on conflicts from people who disagreed. Do you know what a relief that is? It's like going to the chiropractor after throwing out your back. It's like stepping into a heated home after walking ten blocks in the freezing cold.

Because I believe that in the end we will all realize: it never ever mattered what other people thought about how we were living our life.

I love my job and my passions and where I'm going in life. My sweet boy loves going to daycare and playing with the kids and learning new things. It's all been nothing but a blessing for my family, my having the opportunity to work a great job while being a mom. The same as maybe it's been nothing but a blessing for another family whose mom has the opportunity to stay at home for a living. Isn't it nice how what works best for one family doesn't for another? Because how awful would it be if we all had to be the same and do the same things?

I no longer dread the question or the judgements because I'm confident in myself and my family and our happiness.

And when people are "funny", or ignorant, or rude, or not minding their own business... well that's one thing. Because people are people. But when we step into this zone of MOMS versus MOMS, that's what hurts my heart. When women are excluded or gossiped about or judged, because they are being a mom differently than someone else. Not any less or any worse or any better. Just differently.

So next time someone feels sorry for me because I must be too poor to have the amazing blessing of not having to work a job, I will just laugh inside and let it go. But the next time a SAHM is surrounded by working mothers and feels left out or judged, I will make her a new friend of mine while making sure that she knows how much I respect what she does.

I will refuse to contribute to these ridiculous mom versus mom wars that somehow still go on in the world today.

Now, don't you feel like we should have a big group hug??

2 comments:

  1. First of all, chevron. I know, right? I see it everywhere and I just want to burn all of it. Second, you're skinny, blonde, stylish, and adorable. And you have an equally adorable little boy and a good relationship with your husband. AND you seem completely satisfied with life. Do you think they envy you (although they would never admit it)? I have a hard time not being judgmental and immediately pulling the jealousy card...but I can't help it. My mind automatically goes to "that place." Regardless of how stylish, small, and adorable they are, a lot of women (ahem...especially in Utah - not to overgeneralize or anything) tend to feel very threatened by women like you. So I could see that being part of the problem. Jesus, I want to hate you, too. But I like you :) No concern there. Third, I also see the majority of SAHM vs Working Mom wars in Utah. Granted, I've only seen what it's like in Ohio, but I haven't encountered anything like that out here...yet. I will let you know when I do.

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  2. This is a little off what you're talking about, but I love the hippie-group-hug thing. After I'd been struggling with religion for a few years, I had my first drink and soon after, my first buzz and so on. And during those times, after I'd had a few, the thought that was constantly on my mind would come out. "Let's all be friends." And everyone of course thought I was so silly when I started forcing everyone to link arms and hug. I would force everyone into group hugs I called "circle hugs." And it's all because when I was sober, I was constantly wishing everyone could be friends and be on the same level, no matter their age, religion, sexual orientation and so on. During those years of religious struggle, I realized that people separate themselves from each other for so many reasons ... and those reasons usually never make sense. Sure, you don't have to be someone's best friend, but why not their friend? Even in your heart? Because everyone needs friends. Everyone needs hippie group (circle) hugs. :) I don't know what it's like to be a mom, but the mom wars definitely seem silly ... and sad. I love your optimism and wanting to include every single person in your life.

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