Friday, May 18, 2012

An Open Letter...to all moms

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I originally wrote this on a friend’s FB wall a few months ago, in response to a woman who attacked her for being excited about cloth diapering prior to giving birth to her first.  Yes…as in, attacked her for personal excitement over her personal decision- not for trying to bang it in that’s the best route for every baby.  She was criticized as being naïve and told that she’d “see” soon enough.  That it’s easy to think you know what you’re going to do beforehand….but when reality hits- bwahaha…better watch out, because mothering is awful!  I’ve seen that attitude a lot; I’ve encountered it first-hand a lot of times through my journey…and it drives me nuts.  Seeing a young and energetic friend so degraded for her joyful anticipation drove me to my limit. 

I finally addressed the attitude head-on, and after an evening of praying and writing…this is what I came up with.  I thought I’d share it here, because really, it’s an open letter to all mothers.  It’s to all the new moms who don’t know what they have ahead….to all the seasoned moms who feel it’s necessary to give other moms an education…to the judgemental moms, and to the judged.  It’s for all of us, because when all’s said and done….we’re all moms.  And I’m pretty sure that matters a lot more than a lot of other things.

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I have no desire to degrade your decision- or you as a mom.  The thing is, as a young mom myself, I've been so frustrated by all the people that feel the need to tell me- and other moms- what "reality" is.  In the name of "reality" all I hear, all the time, is negativism.  It doesn't particularly bother my personality, but for a lot of women, it could be really discouraging/scary.  Reality's good...but I think we could present reality more positively than it often is.  For instance- tell a mom you were surprised at how busy one baby kept you...but that you found, say, babywearing to be a really helpful tool.  Or to remember on the hard days that nurturing life is what counts the most.  I didn't get comments like that.  Instead, I heard lots of the "you just wait and see" type, similar to your (comment) or things like, "Well, your (attachment parenting) ideals are fine and everything, but when you have 2, you're going to need a baby swing."

Reality is good.  But we can present reality positively.  Reality is hard....but it doesn't have to be ugly, miserable and negative.  Hard can be positive and beautiful!  We can find ways to express the difficult without tearing down other moms or slashing their ideals/goals. 

And yes- because I didn't listen to all the voices, I've had to eat my own words a time or two.  I bet seasoned moms have gotten a kick out of it and I got a lesson in humility.  But far better that than to have listened and set myself up for misery. 

I don't understand why so many moms choose to be so negative about young moms' ambitions/dreams.  I've wondered before if it has anything to do (at least sometimes) with personal insecurites and guilt...and all the pressure that gets put on moms.  Maybe it's because of the dog-eat-dog society moms have built, and all the pressure they get to be everything (WHAT? you don't let your kids finger paint everyday?  You SPANK?  You DON'T spank?  You don't cook everything from scratch? You sinner.).  There's always one more thing we aren't doing, one more person who appears to have it all together or has gone that "step further".  So, overwhelmed, they desperately hope that everyone else fails, too.  And that comes out in negativism and seems an attempt to scare other moms.  I really don't know, I'm just taking a stab in the dark (well, not totally....from conversations and working through friendships, I've gathered as much from some).  And in light of that- I don't want to heap guilt on older moms, either.  I don't want you to feel guilty anymore than I want S---- to feel discouraged and torn down.  But the negativism has got to stop somewhere.  I've never shared my frustration directly with someone before, so I hope it comes across the right way.  Telling other moms they're just going to screw up and that they'll get a good dose of reality soon enough doesn't help the new mom and it doesn't help the "wiser" mom to parent better either.  All the comparisons and everything else....it just needs to be tossed out.  Altogether. 

I think we moms need balance.  We need honesty- so very badly- and permission to be honest.  We also need positive, uplifting encouragement.  We need to be told that our ideals are beautiful.  That we're beautiful and reaching for the highest goals in our journey is beautiful.  That mothering is worth it.  That sleepless nights don't last forever.  We need others to share the beautiful moments in their journey....the sweet memories of tandem nursing, the times when their little one is just too precious to pull your eyes off....  And, on the other hand, we need a safe place- to be honest when life isn't roses.  A place where we can feel vulnerable and weak, and discover that every mom's been there, too.  Tearing down a new mom's dreams, though, isn't going to make you that safe harbor anyway- it just isolates us from each other- it either sets up a new mom for failure, or encourages her to disengage, to make it on her own.  We don't need to scare other moms....we just need honesty.  To be able to say, "I love my kids....but today, I'm really struggling.  I really just want my own body for 5 minutes!"  And if other moms, instead of wondering what the heck is wrong with her (or, worse, going on the "I told you so"), could say, "yeah, been there too.  Thankfully, it doesn't last long!  You'll get through- I'm here with you!"

Wouldn't that be beautiful?  I know I'm still working on my journey to achieving that.  I still have a lot of work ahead of me- I'm a rather bold, confident, say-it-like-it-is personality.  My personality has positives and negatives....I'm definitely still working on flooding grace. 

If we could all just forget our differences.  Feel adequate in our mothering because of the encouragement we're receiving, rather than because we've found ways to bring people down.  If we could remember that each mom is doing her best in her season (season!  that's a whole nother aspect to a lot of parenting choices....like cloth diapering).  That each mom is making educated decisions....and that even if you, say, don't attachment parent, you are still trying to do what you think is absolutely best.  And if, even though I disagree, I could appreciate you for that, and encourage you on the difficult days anyway. 

I want all moms to feel safe and secure.  I want them to feel confident in who they are as mothers.  And I want young, ambitious moms (all of us, actually) to be able to dream away and be encouraged and spurred on- to be given advice with love and encouragement...from other moms who are being encouraged and able to feel confident that way instead of via tearing others down. 

It's a difficult walk- but we could create community, and make it a beautiful one.  One that's not done alone, each mom desperately hoping she can be "good enough" or prove that she really can do it....or hope that someone else really can't.  Let's not walk it alone, and let’s not make it out to be scary and miserable just because we have rough days, when we KNOW it's beautiful.

1 comment:

  1. "We need to be told that our ideals are beautiful. That we're beautiful and reaching for the highest goals in our journey is beautiful. That mothering is worth it. That sleepless nights don't last forever."

    Love this.

    ReplyDelete