The Real Mommy Wars

Last night, my 3 1/2 year old son threw a fit when we told him it was time to go to his room for a story and bed with his dad.  Last night, he wanted me. So he threw a fit – cried and yelled at the top of his lungs, succeeding in waking up his baby sister, who hardly ever sleeps alone in her crib but was miraculously doing just that. Once she was awake, I knew what had to be done. I disentangled myself from my son’s freakishly strong grasp and went to nurse the baby back to sleep, while my son cried and yelled some more as my husband carried him up to his room.

These are the real mommy wars.

When your kid is the one at daycare who is biting other kids, and you’re desperately trying to figure out a way to get him to stop before they tell you he can’t come back…

When you’re struggling to care for a child or children with special needs who push you well beyond any limits you thought you had…

When your boss criticizes you for not being “more available” in the evenings , but you know that you’re steeped in bedtime routines with your kids from 6 pm on and you just can’t seem to figure out how to make it all work…

These are the real mommy wars.

When your kid scratches, hits, or kicks you and laughs while she does it, no matter how hard you try to explain why it’s not OK…

When you’re up all night every night with a baby who just won’t sleep, and you feel like you just can’t make it a moment longer…

When you know your child is struggling with something huge, but there’s no way you can take the burden from him…

These are the real mommy wars.

Trying to get your screaming baby to latch onto your breast and eat in public, without being criticized, judged, or made to feel as if you’re doing something wrong just by feeding your hungry baby…

Trying to convince your teenager that you’re not the enemy and that it’s OK to open up…

Trying not to cry as you drop your child off at college for the first time and the emotional weight of it all washes over you…

These are the real mommy wars.

Knowing you need to find some sort of emotional reserve to support your husband when you feel like you have nothing left to give…

Knowing that at some point, you have to do what everyone says, and put your own needs first once in a while, but wondering how to do that and where in the world you’ll ever find the time…

Knowing that no matter which choices you make as a mom, someone will tell you that you did the wrong thing, and feeling like you’re never doing a good enough job because of it…

These are the real mommy wars.

Through all of this, if you ask any mom, she will tell you that what made it tolerable, what helped her get through it all, was the support from and camaraderie with other mothers.  In these trying times, we are not at war with each other like the media would have you believe.  We are one.  We are united with a solidarity that no one but another mother can truly understand.

We get through it because we have the support of other moms who know that at the end of the day, it’s not about how clean your house is or how many hours you worked.  It’s not about whether you breast fed or bottle fed today.  It’s not about whether your child is attached or permitted or something in between.  It’s not about whether you parent like a helicopter or like a tiger.

We are touched-out, burned-out, over-tired, sleep-deprived, and guilt-ridden.  We are emotionally tapped but somehow manage to find untold reserves of emotional wealth.  If you want to know what our secret is, it’s simple.  It’s each other.  It’s every other mother who has gone before us, who knows the tricks of the trade that we haven’t yet learned.  It’s passing the tricks that we have learned on to other mothers.  It’s looking at our children and knowing without a doubt that being a mom is the most important job we will ever have.

It’s a knowing smile from a fellow mom in line at the grocery store as your child melts down for the umpteenth time that day.  It’s the compassionate understanding from your boss when you have to leave work early because of some crisis with your child at school, because she’s been there.  It’s your own mom listening to you talk endlessly about your kids when she would probably rather be doing something else, because you’re her kid, and she understands what you’re going through.

The real mommy wars don’t rest between mothers from different backgrounds, or mothers who hold different beliefs.  They don’t arise between moms who think breast is best and those who choose formula.  There is no war between mothers who work outside the home and those who stay home raising their children full time.  The war lies within each of us, every single day, as we try to navigate our way through the most challenging and most rewarding job, the most mundane and most frustrating tasks, and the moments that make our hearts soar and break a thousand times each and every day. The real mommy wars are fought against all the challenges we face, knowing that we have no choice but to figure out how to navigate them without causing irreparable harm to ourselves, our marriages, or our children.  The mommy wars are real, but they’re not what you think.  And the only way to win these wars is to fight them together.

 

 

 

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