Serenity Now

Ay dios mio, can’t we just give each other a break? I stumbled across this article last week and vomited in my mouth a little as I read it. It’s one of those mom stories that reads like it makes a non-controversial point, but at its core, is so judgy and mean. In a nutshell (for those of you who don’t want to read, which amen, sistah), the writer is calling out a mom who is sitting on a park bench and looking at her iPhone while her children play nearby. Her poor, poor children, who are desperate for their mother’s attention while they twirl around like a “beauty queen” and coo and wither away from total lack of attention.

But you know what? There are plenty of totally reasonable things that mom could be doing on her phone while her children play. For example, she could be:
1. Researching some awful diagnosis a sick family member just received.
2. Checking work emails on her phone so her kids can play in the park in the middle of the day.
3. Planning an amazing party or trip for her family.
4. Looking at porn.
5. Taking a goddamn break so she doesn’t spontaneously combust from exhaustion and stress.
6. Totally faking interest in her phone so she doesn’t have to talk to you about how beautiful it is to raise children.

Whatever she is doing, here is what I think: who the f cares. Unless her kids are attacking your kids, or hurting themselves, or peeing on the slide, then just calm yourself.

It seems like the god-awful, media-perpetuated “mommy wars” have cooled off a bit but I still hear moms talk smack about each other almost as much as I hear them support each other. Let’s all just be honest: we really have no idea what we are doing at any given moment. Right? We’re all just making our best guesses throughout the day, and are totally unsure about so many of our decisions, and deep down know that there is a massive amount of luck in raising well-adjusted, good kids. Instead of saying that, though, we bash each other’s choices to try to make ourselves comfortable with our own.

I try to be conscious about not judging other moms, but I have been so harsh on myself about my own choices. I tortured myself when I was a working mom, feeling constantly guilty about not spending enough time with my kids and imagining all the beautiful, thoughtful things I would do with them if only I was home. So now that I’m on the other side and have been a SAHM for a few months, I want to assure my working mom friends who feel conflicted: the way you parent probably isn’t going to change just because you stop working. For example, I used to see projects and recipes on Pinterest and other similarly evil websites when I was working, and think that if only I were home more, I would do them all. With a huge smile on my face, while wearing a lovely apron. And also, my kids would listen to me and seek out my wisdom and guidance, and I would suddenly be good at math.

But really, what has changed is that I do more stuff around the house (and I’m talking about the stuff that needs to get done, not optional stuff like baking holiday-themed after school snacks or ironing). I do some fun projects with the kids, but probably not much more than I used to, and I get to pick them up a little earlier from school. Also, I add flax seed to meals because in my head that seems like something a thoughtful SAHM does.

I think my kids are mostly happy to have me around for a few more hours every day, but it really hasn’t been a monumental change for them. For example, my son asked me the other day how my work was going. I asked him what he was talking about, and he said, “You know, your work, at the office I went to that one time, where I played on your computer and wrote FART really big on the screen.” Um. My normally very aware son, who can tell you exactly how many Thin Mints I have stashed in the freezer right now, had forgotten that I haven’t been working for the past seven months.

So my point is: let’s all calm down and give each other a break. The kids are fine and we’re doing OK. Working, not working, leaning in, reclining back, falling over – we’re all just trying our best to do a really hard job that doesn’t have any guidelines or guarantees, and the least the adults can do is be cool to each other.

And if you’re reading this post on your iPhone while your kids are playing nearby, and some woman is giving you the evil eye, it is not me. And you have my permission to totally ignore her and go right back to looking at porn reading about current events.

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5 thoughts on “Serenity Now

  1. So, I’ve had the aforementioned box of flax seed in my pantry for a month now, but I don’t know how to use it. In this case, does the thought still count?

  2. Amen to flax seed add-ins and Thin Mints in the freezer. And Hell Yes, let’s see what happens when our children PLAY without our everwatchfuleyes and constant “be carefuls” that sneak out of our mouths so unassumingly.

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