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Mommy Island

November 18, 2009

Family Christmas Photo FAIL

Mommy Island. You know, that place you wake up on after having kids and can’t figure out how you got there?

That place where you are so tired you can’t remember anything for more than 15 seconds and you wonder…why did I think this was such a good idea? Sure – it’s got it’s good points. But it’s a lonely place. At least, until you find out you’re not alone. There are other castaways. They are just as tired as you are, and just as incapable of seeing beyond the dirty laundry, diapers, and dishes. One would think that we castaways would automatically band together, support one-another, live in commonality and harmony! Heck no – after I landed here, I soon realized a war was going on. At times subtle, at others viscous. Sadly, I discovered we have turned on our own and are chewing off our proverbial noses to spite our proverbial faces.

Leslie Morgan Steiner wrote this in 1998 (you’d think we would have made progress since then.)

“…the Mommy Wars, my shorthand for the cultural and emotional battle zone we land in the minute we become mothers. It is a war fought inside your head, on soccer fields or in PTAs in the wary undercurrent between working and stay-at-home moms, in the car when you leave your child for another long day at day care, at play groups, at work and in your own bedroom in those lights-out talks with your spouse. It involves many different social and moral and financial issues, yet it often boils down to a personal question: How does this child fit into my life, or should my life now fit around this child?”

This is a topic on which I spend a lot of personal energy – it has kept me awake ‘o nights, it has inhibited my friendships and it has made me question my decision to become a parent.

In short, The Mommy Wars have robbed a great deal of my joy in being a mom.

Considering that Mommy Island is, at times, it’s own Hall of Terrors, how sad that when we find other castaways we immediately put up our dukes?

It’s a little bit Lord of the Flies, isn’t it? I’ve got a few scars from the drive-bys that have been hurled in my direction. Sometimes intentional. Sometimes not. My worst ever was the sweet, good-natured, kindly friend of the family who, upon meeting me in the parking lot of my son’s preschool/daycare, mentioned that she used to work in a daycare herself. “I always felt so sorry for those poor, motherless children.”

I walked away from the conversation in a daze, to pick up my poor, motherless child.

Why is it that, instead of banding together to support each other through truly, one of the hardest tasks of all humankind, mothers instead criticize, lash out, and accuse when others’ choices differ from their own? And it’s not just about our choice to work (or not). I got zinged just recently over how I chose to discipline my son. She was so offended by my choice that she no longer speaks to me. How is that helpful, I beg to know?

Have you been a victim of the Mommy Wars? Have you engaged in battle or hidden in the trenches, hoping to avoid any conflict?

(Photo: Family Christmas Photo FAIL)

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. November 17, 2009 8:16 am

    >You are not just a good mother – you are a great one! Your children adore you; as you do them. Your and their foibles only prove that you are part of the human race; and not yet ascended to the role of angellic being. Your writings are poignant and amusing. God bless and encourage!

  2. November 17, 2009 6:33 pm

    >Way to put this into words Adelle! I try to stay out of the fray, but even in the trenches I'm a casualty of the guilt that comes from constantly bracing against attack. Why do I fear attack? Well, my kids don't sit as still in church as some, they often watch more TV than others, they are picky eaters, aren't homeschooled, don't always have a set schedule full of enriching activities, etc, etc, etc… I wish being a mom didn't put a target on my back, but I guess all I can do is pray to God to guide me through each day, counting every one as a success, regardless.

  3. November 17, 2009 11:06 pm

    >I interpret the mommy wars to be the 30's and 40's version of the high school clicks that defined HS life for many teenagers. I just chose not to be affected or put into a click. I can chose to be like my Grandfather said, a duck, so the criticism and derisive comments roll off my back like raindrops roll off the feathers on their back. I chose my life. My house is a mess, but my kids are well-behaved and smart. I need to lose 15 pounds, but I can still run 5 miles. I do both motherhood and research much less well than if I was only doing one of them–but then, I'd be doing only one of them. No choice is easy, or perfect, but CHOSE and own your choice. -Angie

  4. November 30, 2009 7:12 am

    >I know I'm a little late to the comments, so hopefully this will get to you! After reading your post and the linked articles (because, you know, I'm just dying to be a mom) I think I may have inadvertantly participated in the mommy wars – and I’m a total offender if so, not being a mommy myself! If I have, to any mothers out there, I do deeply apologize. See, here's how I go: I want to take on a new challenge (in this case, parenthood) so I read everything I can find on the subject that I deem credible. Then I think I'm an expert. Then I pass on this expertise to others, and congratulate my big-headed self on helping out an ignorant person in need. I suck, I see this now.But on to mommy wars, I actually have a collection of essays titled this, which is wonderful. I'll lend it to you.From everything I read, I think this girl-on-girl crime that happens between mothers is awful. Honestly, it's one of the big things that scares me about becoming a parent, because I know I'm going to struggle with the decision to stay home or to work. I think we feel so unsure of our own choices that we have to constantly be looking for fault in others so that we can assure ourselves that we've done it better. My solution for whenever I enter the battle zone? Whatever my chioce, I'm going to work darn hard to choose to be happy with it. I think we waste a lot of time in this life making choices and then feeling guilty for them. If a choice is well considered, prayerful, and honors God and family,why fret over it once it's made? Yes, there is always times when we should reassess our choices to see if they're still best, but I really think that if women could choose to be happy with their choices and not see other's different choices as a threat to them, we would all be a lot happier. Sorry! I’ll bet you didn't know I had so much to say, not being a mother yet! But women's studies is a passion of mine, so there you go.My rant being over, what I really wanted to say, Mama Gabe, is that you're one of two women that I look to as examples of what sort of mother I want to be. Your grace under fire, your poise and humor in disasters, and ability to look like a fashion plate while wiping a snotty nose leaves me speechless. So take that, mommy wars: this woman is one of my heroes. So there.

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  1. A Message For All The Weary Moms: You Are Enough | Adelle Gabrielson

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