A mother's natural predator: Other Moms
After reading a friend’s blog this morning I feel compelled to post some unsolicited advice for my expecting friends. I’m sure you have a lot of feelings right now (including excitement, fear, anxiety, impatience, etc) and you’re probably thinking that your biggest fears surrounding the arrival of your baby revolve around the actual birth and how you’re going to possibly care for your little bundle of joy once he/she arrives. The truth is, your instincts kick in LIGHTNING-FAST once your kiddo gets here. As it turns out, we humans are pretty amazing at raising our progeny right out of the gate. Yes, there is a learning curve, but you’d be surprised how you (someone who may not have ever actually been around kids prior to having one) suddenly jump into it head first and stick the landing. Wow, you’re pretty awesome! Go you, for real! Just when you think there’s really not much to be scared of you meet… “other moms.”
Before I go much further, I need to differentiate between “many moms” and “other moms.” Many moms are completely amazing. You will get a lot of help, awesome advice, and camaraderie from many moms after the birth of your child. They will help you figure out all sorts of puzzles that come your way and many moms will help you feel better when you’re feeling totally overwhelmed and confused. Other moms are pure evil. Other moms feel like their way is the only way to raise a child. If you are doing something differently from how they would do it, they have no problems letting you know how wrong you are. It is usually done in the most saccharine tone of voice possible. Who knew passive aggression could be so sweetly veiled?
Once you decide to emerge from your home with your new bundle of joy (OMG do we really need to pack up half of our house to go to Dillons???? Yep. Turns out you do), other moms will see your stroller and, as if a homing beacon discreetly installed in child’s binky suddenly went off, they will flock to you from miles around. They will spend the first few moments Ooooh-ing and Ahhh-ing your precious little baby. You will beam with pride because, hell yeah… you made one beautiful baby! Then, all of a sudden the questions from the other mom get sort of… personal. You’ll feel compelled to answer these questions because the other mom heaped so much praise on your little one, but it’s more sinister than that. As it turns out, the other mom released a cloud of honesty-toxin into the air piggy-backed on the praises you were enjoying just moments earlier. You are now frozen in place and unable to stop telling this perfect stranger the most intimate details of your new life as a mom. Some other moms may even reach right in to your baby’s personal space and TOUCH THEM without asking you. Seriously! They will touch your baby (the same baby who just spent the last 2 hours raging because they were overtired and refused to submit to sleep until FINALLY they did go to sleep and now some total bitch just TOUCHED him/her!!! WTF??)
So, how do you know if you’re dealing with an “other mom?” Some examples of personal questions/responses posed by the other mom may include:
Are you breastfeeding your baby?
You aren’t? Did you even try? Your supply was low? Your baby didn’t latch? That isn’t true. You just didn’t try hard enough. Did you consult with La Leche League? Have you tried fenugreek or pumping for 10 hours straight or meditating or *insert really strange thing here*?? Well, don’t you know formula is poison? Breast is best! Ok, so you’re using formula… are you at least using the really expensive organically-certified stuff? YOU’RE USING THE WALMART BRAND??? Do you even love your baby?
Are you going back to work?
You were only off for *insert reasonable amount of time here* for maternity leave? Gosh, that’s such a short period of time! Don’t you miss your baby horribly when you’re at work? I totally quit my job the instant I found out we were expecting and I haven’t regretted the decision AT ALL! Granted, my husband is a neurosurgeon so we have AMAZING health insurance and we’re totally loaded, but wow… you actually went back to work, huh? You must be miserable without your baby all day long. You know kids get sick/ignored/picked on/etc. at day care, right? How do you know if your day care provider isn’t harming your child? I’d be SO worried if a stranger watched my kid! They have so many other kids to watch, how do you know your child won’t just cry for you all day long? What does YOUR husband do for a living? *Raised eyebrow of judgment* Do you hate your baby?
Are you using cloth diapers?
You’re not? But they’re so much better for baby’s skin, and the environment, and your pocket book, and they’re SOOO cute! You’re using disposable diapers because they’re convenient? Do you hate the planet? Also, do you hate your baby? I’m beginning to think you really hate your baby, you dirty baby-hater. Ok, baby-hater, I’ll give you a pass as long as you use the most expensive disposable diapers known to man. Seriously, Walmart again? What the hell is wrong with you? You’re dumb and all of your decisions are poorly thought out and dumb.
You’re using a binky?
Why on earth would you give your child a binky? What about all of the dental problems?? You’re the worst mom in the history of moms. Is your name Joan Crawford? You make me sick.
Other moms will make you feel one inch tall. Other moms are the bullies we all thought we left behind in high school. Other moms have to do this to feel better about their own decisions. The truth is you are totally capable of producing a viable citizen with the decisions you make. You know your baby better than anyone else and you know what situation you are in (financially and otherwise) and you are going to make the best decisions based off of innumerable variables, which will pop up one right after another. Your instincts will guide you if you let them.
This is not to say that advice is totally unnecessary. One of the best things I did was cultivate some mom-friendships with other moms who totally “get it.” Those moms help validate me when I’m feeling crazy and are great sounding-boards for when my baby “does something weird.” They help reassure me that I’m totally awesome and doing an amazing job and they fawn over my baby without any underlying passive aggression. We’re there for each other.
In summary, don’t let other moms get to you. They’re everywhere and they will flock to you like moths to the flame. Do what you feel is right for you and your family and you’ll be just fine. Congrats! You’re starting one hell of a journey and it’s completely awesome!