It happened again today. A friend of mine posted a question on Facebook asking for suggestions on how to treat her toddler’s dry, chapped lips. Her friends immediately began responding with their favorite remedies and suggestions. It didn’t take long before “that mom” chimed in. In this instance, that mom responded to the previous suggestions in disgust. “Vaseline/aquaphor is a petroleum left over. Yuck, if I wouldn't put it in my mouth I wouldn't want it on my babies lips!”
I’m sure that mom could easily defend herself. In her mind she is just trying to help, just sharing her thoughts and knowledge, just trying to help a sister out. But what she actually did was make every single one of the 11 moms who commented before her (suggesting those very products) feel/seem less than…. less than her with her knowledge of beauty product safety. Less informed, less discerning, less concerned with her children’s health and safety.
We can all easily identify that mom. We’ve been in playgroups with her, she has sat at our MOPS table, we’ve sat at the computer and watch her wield her words on Facebook. In the blink of an eye that mom can take us from green to yellow (or red!) on the mom scale of performance contentedness (bear with me – I’ve got preschool behavior charts on my brain). Sometimes it feels like it is impossible to discuss any topic related to our kids without opening ourselves up to the possibility of being wounded. Whether its how much juice we give our kids, how much tv we let them watch, what kind of produce and dairy products we buy (GASP – you don’t buy organic, free range, grass fed meat that get’s its tushy wiped when it poos and its teeth brushed with fluoride free toothpaste each night?!?!?) Any of those topics, and many more, open us up to being hit by “friendly fire” from another mom.
Aren’t we supposed to be on the same team here? We are all in the trenches raising kids in a world that is anything BUT helpful! Instead we so often turn on one another to make ourselves feel better about our decisions. Do you notice what I did there? I took it from a “that mom” scenario to a “we” scenario. Because, guess what! We have all been guilty of this. I’m the first one to raise my hand and admit I’ve let a phrase slip out of my mouth that is really a condemnation disguised as an opinion! So let’s just all take a minute here and agree to really think before we open our mouths (or worse let our fingers fly on the keyboard!). If there is a good chance that the words you are about to share could take another mom down a peg or two then maybe its NOT actually helpful. Maybe it’s more harmful… and hurtful! Maybe think about rephrasing your comment to remove any hint of “I’m better than you”. Let that chance to really zing those other moms pass you by. Be the bigger mom. Really, truly. Because I assure you what is gained in those few moments of personal victory is a loss for moms as a whole. We need one another! We need to support each other and love each other and be REAL with each other. And maybe, just maybe, when we stop building ourselves up by knocking our sisters down we will open our hearts to the real growth that is going to make a difference in our lives as moms. Then we will model for our children the kind of people we want them to be. We will be living by example and not just word. And those kids, the one we are trying so hard to raise into decent human beings, will be infinitely better for it. Better than all the organic, hormone free, vaccine delaying parenting decisions in the whole wide world – combined! Take that!!
(Stepping down from my soap box.)
Look, I'll go first! You want real? Here is a picture of my 5 year old. Taken last week. With a pacifier in his mouth. Somebody call CPS!!