Why Do The “Mommy Wars” Exist?
I’ll tell you why. A simple lack of grace. Because of my faith, I’m VERY familiar with this term. I’ll spare you a dictionary definition, but here’s what it means to me. It means trading in our knee jerk reaction of offense for understanding even when it’s believed to be unwarranted.
I recently read this article on Scary Mommy and found it shared in my Moms group on Facebook as well. Here’s the article. The gist of the post is that the author calls another mom on her Facebook Moms group an A-hole for making a comment she didn’t like. I know a lot of mothers probably read this article, bobbing their heads along to the familiar song of offense. We get so mad at what others say to us, especially when we perceive it as an attack on our parenting.
Check The Temperature
We tend to jump to offense without first checking the temperature of the water. We just dive to the worst case scenario and believe the commentator had the WORST possible motives for what they said. It’s simply because grace is NOT a knee jerk reaction like offense is. It requires practice.
It requires that we take a second or longer to really think about what is being said and why and if we’re unsure it requires us to take it a step further and ask the question. Why do we assume that if someone makes a comment we don’t agree with, it means that person is out to attack us?
Change The Highlight Reel
It’s because we don’t have grace for ourselves. Instead of seeing the best in our own parenting abilities, we sometimes play the bad highlight reel in our heads, replaying all our mistakes over and over again. My friend posted this article to my wall on Facebook. It was much more positive than the post I mentioned earlier. It’s called, “When You Just Want to Quit Being A Mom.” It talks about finding grace for yourself in those REALLY hard moments of parenting. Sometimes it’s not so much forgiveness we need from others, it’s the forgiveness we need to have for ourselves.
Finding The Win In Your Next Parenting Fail
Last week, I had an epic meltdown when my son and I had a battle of wills. It was over a sandwich if you can believe that. My son only ate half his sandwich at lunch and we made a deal that he could save it for later if he understood that he wouldn’t get any other snacks until he finished his sandwich first.
He agreed and then predictably asked for another snack not too much later. When I said, “No” it kicked off at least an hour long tirade in which he told me repeatedly, “You’re so mean. You’re a bad mommy.”
The Internal Struggle
We’ve all been here. When you hear this from your kid it both breaks your heart and makes you mad. They don’t understand that it’s not your job to give them everything they want. It’s not your job just to do what is easiest. Sure, it wouldn’t have been hard to let it go and just give him something else to eat, but here’s the struggle of parenting. I realize that the decisions I make, even the small ones will shape the people my children will become.
I know my husband would look at the same situation and say just give him what he wants. But I know that’s not something that’s going to serve him well later in life. I don’t want him to be a man for whom his word means nothing. I don’t want him to believe he’s privileged and we can afford to throw food in the trash because there is always a steady supply. I want him to grow up to be a good man, an honorable and humble man. I know what you’re thinking, how do all those goals hinge on a sandwich?
These are the minute details of parenting. Seeing how all the little choices we make add up to the people our children will become. It’s REALLY hard not to do what is easiest and sometimes we give in like I did that day. And when he screamed it for probably the tenth time that I was a bad mother I yelled back, “I’m ALWAYS a bad mother.” I gave in. I made him something else to eat. I was not nice about it. I was frustrated and angry, but I was still a good mother. He doesn’t know the internal struggle going on inside me. Neither does anyone else.
When we take offense to something someone tells us, it’s often because we forget that nobody gets to see this internal struggle if we don’t show them. Showing someone else, especially our kids that we are flawed and weak is not something we willingly do.
Listen Closely For Victory
One of my Erinisms (my philosophies) is that failure is loud. We have to be willing to listen for the quiet voice of victory. If we listen closely it’s usually right after we hush the loud voice of failure. When the sandwich debacle was over, my son came downstairs where I was still stewing and threw his arms around me and said, “I forgive you.”
Grace Begets More Grace
I’m not going to lie. I was partly annoyed because it was his refusal to do what he said he would do that kicked off this whole thing. But when he said those words to me, grace kicked in and I hugged him right back and said, “I forgive you too buddy.” His coming to me with forgiveness showed me I was in fact a good mother. I taught him well the power of forgiveness and so I gave it back freely.
The harder part was forgiving myself for my own meltdown. I’m not a perfect mom, not by any stretch of the imagination. I will fail them sometimes. But I have to force myself to listen for those moments of victory. I have to remind myself that they all add up to one “good mom.”
Moms, the reason we need to show each other grace is because we need to practice it with ourselves. Lashing out at those you don’t agree with doesn’t make them the A-hole. Just because they said something that hurt your feelings doesn’t mean they are the enemy. Instead it’s merely a reflection of what we feel inside. The mom from the negative article was at her wits end. She was tired and frustrated and probably already felt like a bad mom for not being able to get her baby to sleep.
When someone said something that seemed to “confirm” her fear she narrowed in and went so far as to try and publicly shame her as she felt this person was doing to her. What does that get her though? Perhaps a little bit of sympathy from strangers? More than likely it will not change how she feels about herself to call another mom an A-hole.
Hurt People Hurt People
When we try to hurt others for hurting us, we do two things. First, we validate our decision to let their words have a power over us that supersedes our own feelings of self-worth. Second, it deprives us of the ability to find grace that would give us peace within ourselves.
Until we can trade offense for grace, we’ll never really know that we’re good moms. The kind of moms who don’t need to be told we’re great by strangers in online forums.
The solution to the “Mommy Wars” my friends is simply finding the grace to not see those mothers in the parenting trenches beside us as enemies, but comrades. The only battle we’re really fighting is the one with ourselves.
Erin Johnson a.k.a. The No Drama Mama can be found blogging at Hudson Valley Parent Magazine and thenodramamama.com when she’s not wiping poop or snot off her otherwise three adorable kiddos. This frugal, “tell it like it is” mama has NO time for drama, so forget your perfect parenting techniques and follow me on Facebook or Twitter for my delightfully imperfect parenting wins and fails.