(Warning: I would like to acknowledge that, yes, this is another woman writing about the "mommy wars." I'm just that predictable. My brain has been fried since having kids so things have gotten a bit more rote. I can't even guarantee you that a single sentence in here is inspired or original).
Parenthood, to its core, is a thankless job. You give to these kids and you never get a thank you. You think about them constantly and they repay you by peeing all over your floor. You work hard on a kid-friendly dinner that's so boring you almost fall asleep standing at the stove and they feed their over-boiled broccoli and rubbery chicken nuggets to the dog.
Beyond being an occupation that's completely devoid of kudos (even my miserly, crusty, old boss at the fast food restaurant I worked at in High School smiled at me every once in awhile in appreciation), it's also filled with more external derision than any other job. This is especially true if you're a mom.
Pictures and videos constantly appear online of moms not doing it right. Beneath every picture are hundreds of comments about what that mom is doing wrong. One that has stuck with me for years is a video someone posted online of a child having a tantrum at shoe store's checkout counter. It was next level with blood curdling screams and I think she even wound up on the floor at some point. The mom ignores her daughter AND even buys her daughter the shoes she wants. Every comment under the picture chided the mother for not leaving the store immediately; for buying her the shoes despite (or maybe because of) her tantrum.
I hated every single one of those commenters. Do they have any idea how hard it is to get kids out of the house? So, she was supposed to leave and bring her kid back later when she wasn't acting like such a little shit? There's no chance of that happening. It's not like the kid was going to be so much better the next time they went. So, the mom did what she had to do to get those shoes bought because her kid couldn't walk to school barefoot. I understood that mother. Or, at least, I understood the mother as I imagined she was. She could be a totally awful mom for all I know, but that's not the point. That mother didn't deserve to be publicly shamed for just trying to make it to the end of the day.
I'd like to take a moment to imagine a new system for judging each other as moms and parents. Since positive reinforcement is so much more effective than negative reinforcement (in my opinion. If your parenting style is the inverse, then that works as well. It's all a crapshoot anyway), I decided to set up more attainable achievements for us parents. These are awards for every parent. "Even if you only give your kids wooden toys and subscribe to every tenant of the Waldorf philosophy?" you ask. Yes. "What if I only buy my kids toys made of plastic with lots of bells and whistles and I subscribe to the "god, just please let me make it to the end of the day" philosophy?" They're for you, too. No matter how your kids came into this world, what you feed them, and how long you let them sleep in your bed, you can reward yourself with these.
- The "I Didn't Lose My Shit Today" Award - If you can go a day without getting totally angry at your kids, my hats off to you. That's a red letter day.
- The "I Didn't Lose My Shit Too Much Today" Award - In all honesty, your kid was acting like a total asshole by ripping your curtains out of the wall and rubbing your waterproof mascara onto your white walls. I'm surprised you didn't get more pissed than you did.
- The "I May Have Lost My Shit Today, But At Least Tomorrow's a New Day" Award" - You know what? It's fine. Tomorrow just try not calling them a jerk. Every day is another opportunity to not completely lose your shit.
- The "I Only Hyperventilated Once" Award - You only had one panic attack during your kids two hour long tantrum? That's incredible!
- The "My Kids Eventually Went to Bed Tonight" Award - Was it technically still nighttime when your kids went to bed? That's quite an achievement. You're dominating this parenting thing and deserve to fully enjoy that one hour of sleep your kids will give you before they wake up for the day!
Whenever you're feeling overwhelmed by all the public shaming of motherhood and you see a woman on social media who looks alarmingly similar to you with kids who look a lot like your kids, just give yourself one of the previous listed awards. You deserve it!