When you become a mom, you become a card carrying member into one of two clubs: the working mom’s club, or the stay at home/work from home mom’s club.
No woman asks to be a part of these clubs. No woman really wants to be a part of these clubs. These clubs are cliquy, petty, and fully of entitlement, insecurity, and bickering.
As awesome as the women are who make up each of these clubs, collectively, they are awful. We. The moms. The members. We.Are.Awful.
As someone who has been in both clubs and has struggled with both, I’ve always been shocked and yes, horrified, at We The Members, behavior. I’ve always carried a willingness to be vulnerable and be open about “my life right now,” and consequently, have been so, so confused by the response of the other club when opening up about my struggles.
But I think I’ve discovered a little perspective on it all, and I’d like to share that with you today. These thoughts are my own, cultivated after a few years of motherhood, countless conversations with moms of all kinds, and plenty of hours mulling over the “why” behind the animosity and bickering.
Here’s the thing. No matter what kind of family dynamic you have, no matter what work-family balance you strike, being a mom is hard. Whether you get up in the morning and deal with the heart ache of leaving little ones, or whether you get up in the morning desperate for a break from your little ones, it doesn’t matter – IT’S. ALL. HARD.
One thing I’ve realized is as humans, but especially as moms, we want our hard work acknowledged. We want our sacrifices noticed. And we want people to understand just how hard things are. This is not because we are petty or weak or feeling sorry for ourselves, it’s because – say it with me now – it’s hard! And when the going gets tough, the tough take a stroll poll in the hopes of finding other people who will acknowledge and affirm them in their choices, struggles, and sacrifices.
Oh dear friends, we all want the same thing. We want affirmation. We want acknowledgement of the good/hard/frustrating/exhausting/rewarding/confusing work we are doing in this wild goose chase we call motherhood.
I’m starting to realize that when mom’s reach out with vulnerability to say “this thing is hard,” they AREN’T saying that they’ve got it the hardest or the best, or that they’ve made the right choice and you’ve made the wrong one, they are just saying it’s hard.
And it is!
Similarly, when women feel proud of the tough decisions they’ve made and the hard work they’ve put into mothering, they should be able to say “yay me!” without the rest of us instantly thinking, “What!? You think you’re better than me? You think because you chose ___ that you’re a better mother?”
Why is our first response to sneer and get defensive of our own position? Why is our first impulse to tear down and criticize?
Women are incredible in their capacity for love, for strength, and for overcoming. We are also appallingly good at making other people feel just so small.
But here is the thing.
It’s all hard, no matter which club you’re in.
We all struggle with wanting/knowing what’s best for our family.
We all struggle with comparing our club to the other, one mom’s choices to our own.
We all struggle with hearing someone else share the hard thing about their (different) situation and not responding by getting defensive.
Friends, why don’t we respond, instead, in the way we would want our vulnerability to be met? With kindness. With grace. And with the understanding that what one woman shares is not a silent criticism of our decisions, it is simply a truth of their life. Of their struggle. Period. End. Of. Story.
When someone who chose a work-family balance different from our own shares a struggle about that balance, we immediately go on high alert. We silently think, if we both struggle but are in different work-family situations, then one of us must be wrong, right? Or one of us must have it easier, right? And then we think how it certainly isn’t us who is wrong. And it certainly isn’t us who has it easier.
Before we know it, we are attacking a fellow mother, accusing her of being both wrong and weak, because someone else must carry those labels so that we can be sure that we aren’t wearing them.
But the clubs aren’t real, my friends. We’ve made them real, but they truly don’t have to exist.
I’m ready to burn these clubs to the ground, what about you?
Let’s light a match to all this ridiculous fighting. These ridiculous debates. All of our own insecurities and fears. All of our worries about who is right because GOOD GRIEF it doesn’t matter. If it’s right for you, it’s right for you. If it’s right for them, it’s right for them. There is no golden standard of motherhood and work-family balance. (Side note, Amazon currently has 4,360 books on motherhood. Why? Because there are a million different ways to mother!) Their isn’t one, right club. It’s a lie that leaves no survivors in the battle for it’s defense.
Let’s remember that we aren’t really a supportive person if we only surround ourselves with people we agree with. That, again, is a clique. A Club. Good riddance to all that! True support looks like women walking with women through choices we wouldn’t/didn’t make, in situations we don’t understand.
Let’s burn these clubs and and the bridges that lead us to them. And as the walls of criticism, anger, and doubt fall to ash, let’s raise up beams of support. Because the only thing harder than motherhood, is doing it alone.