I’m rubber. You’re glue. Whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you.
I witness the snap judgments of my fellow mothers on a regular basis; sometimes I am on the receiving end, other times I am a bystander. I handle these instances with that little piece of kindergarten-level advice above. Too juvenile for your taste? Okay, here’s a mature alternative: I ignore my would-be detractors.
To be clear, I am not against moms sharing opposing ideas; on the contrary, I appreciate the insights and constructive criticism of my peers. However, sometimes comments veer off the courtesy course, even implying or outright calling me negligent, on more than one occasion! I might not be the perfect mother, but I am good enough.
“It is an impressively arrogant move to conclude that just because you don’t like something, it is empirically not good.”–Tina Fey, Bossypants
Where is this invective coming from?
It’s easy to find reasons moms can be antagonistic. Mothers today work harder and longer, with less of a safety net. In the absence of the traditional village, many of us raise our children without the cushion of extended family support. Our struggles take place in isolation.
Adding to the pressure, we’re surrounded by ubiquitous social media, a rose-colored bell jar. Our insecurity is ramped up by the perceived superiority of other moms’ digital personas; these carefully crafted artifices display highlight reels, vacations, and accomplishments of an impossibly perfect life. “All the other moms are handcrafting old-fashioned lye soap in their spare time!” I whine to my confused husband. Within my window of electronic voyeurism, I see women sharpening their already competitive shivs.
(picture the following being said in a WWF wrestler’s voice)
Step right up, ladies, into THE RING OF TRUTHINESS, where working mothers and stay-at-home moms go to fight for self-esteem and validation of their choices!
We’ve read the unremittingly boring arguments online about whether motherhood is the most difficult job or not, as though we can or should compare mothering to coal mining. Rather than provide a fresh perspective, irrelevant media attempt to add fuel to the insipid fire, like when Time magazine provocatively asked us if we were mom enough, and all women united for one brief moment to say, “Suck it, Time.”
I’m not picking on NPN; I come here to write and read because I regard highly the company of thoughtful and encouraging women. Nor am I here to bash the Internet; to do so would undermine positive achievements being made online.
Is “Sisterhood” the solution? Nope.
I will not play the sisterhood card; it is possibly the lamest, most well-covered argument to say that we’re all women, and therefore, we should all try to get along, RAH RAH FEMINISM!
I’m not going to tell you to avoid the mean girls because I believe that oversimplification sells women short. We’ve all got a mean girl somewhere in us. I am not going to say you have to get along with manipulative, bratty, or self-congratulatory women because that just ain’t gonna happen, and I don’t blame you. Perhaps the greatest luxury feminism has afforded us is that we no longer have to present a unified front against the tyranny of men; we each have our own power.
Instead, I suggest a compromise. Don’t be troll bait; just ignore what you don’t like. Abandon the culture of one-upmanship and cease petty fights on social media. With that saved energy and emotion, you free yourself up to build positive villages. You can mother your female friendships with the same compassion, good humor, and honesty as you do with your children, and ignore the rest.
If you’re looking for ways to deflect criticism, check out a great article on Natural Parents Network about how to respond respectfully to unwanted parenting advice and judgment. I’ll conclude my entreaty with a quote from a woman who sums up my argument best: