Motherhood is full of ups and downs, so it’s no surprise that I’d have a few mom pet peeves. It’s common knowledge amongst mothers that we spend a good amount of our time feeling inadequate. Social media plays a big role in this, because there it is in the palm of our hands- all the ways other moms (seem) to be rocking this mom life harder than us.
But we all know it’s just an illusion, a highlight reel. We know just to the left of that picture is a mountain of laundry or a sink full of dishes. We know that sweet looking kid has been an absolute terror at one point or another this week and the mom behind the camera has had at least one cringe-worthy moment. Yet, whether it be social media or a moment in time at the park, we still compare. We take what we see at face value and assess our worth against theirs.
None of us is, or ever will be, the perfect mother. So why are we competing with one another over an unattainable goal?
My biggest mom pet peeve is other mothers taking accountability for things they have no control over and using it to bolster their perfect status. Namely, your children’s behavior.
Every child has their own unique strengths and deficits, so can we stop pretending like the strengths are dependent solely on how good of a mother you are? Sure, strengths can be fostered and honed, but I’d bet that mostly they’re dependent on individual temperament and personality more than environment. I’d go so far as to say that I think parents really only get about 25% influence on their children. The rest is nature.
You don’t get to pick your children. They come as they are, preprogramed with traits, tendencies, abilities and opinions and they don’t give a damn about who you thought you would be as a parent, what you need to get done or your expectations. You have to parent based on what they need, not what you want. And if you’re one of those people who claim the kids work around your life, I’ve got news- you have easy kids.
My point is, just because your kids do one thing others struggle with, it has no reflection on your skills as a parent. You may have a very compliant kid, and that may give you the illusion that your parenting methods are just and perfect. But it’s just that- an illusion.
I’m probably more sensitive to this having a special needs child and a second who is hyperactive and more physically competent than any kid should be (For example, Nolan started riding a scooter at 20 months. Not normal.). My kids are not the seen and not heard type. They demand everyone’s attention all the time and they will not be ignored.
For a long time, I felt like if I could just work harder, get more sleep (Ok, to be fair, that one really would have made a significant difference.), have a better memory, be more organized, think farther ahead then I could overcome this season of life. My kids would be more compliant, I wouldn’t be as frazzled and everything would be smoother.
I learned this lesson very early on when Isla was diagnosed with autism. Every idea of how I was going to operate as a mother had to be re-examined because life zigged instead of zagged. I promise, something will happen in your parenting career that will make you take another look at how you’d always thought you’d handle something. You will have to zig at some point too.
With my children, I’ve had to succeed a lot of battles, because ev.er.y.thing is a battle. I can’t die on every hill. It may look permissive, but it’s what I have to do to survive. Maybe you don’t have as many battles, but the only constant is change and a transition is always on the horizon in Motherhoodland.
Either way, can we just agree to stop feeling superior to one another because our methods are different? Can we stop using what works best for our families as a measure of our own worth? Otherwise, I’m going to keep wishing a difficult kid on you. Then we’ll see who gets the last laugh.
I’m done celebrating the perfect way to mother, and I hope you are too, because it doesn’t exist. I’ll happily cheer you on and like all your pretty moments in your pretty squares on social media because that’s fun and there are a million amazing moments in every day mothering if you choose to see them. Social media is an excellent way to preserve that nostalgic “good old days” feeling.
So take this as your weekly reminder that you are a good mom, stop comparing yourself. Above all let’s stop judging each other because this job is hard enough when we’re not working against each other. Let’s just start believing we’re all doing the best we can.
What is your biggest mom pet peeve?
Photography by Nicole Quiroz