tough answers from real parents: the mom you hate

The first Tough Questions for Real Parents survey went out about 2 months ago.

There's this stigma attached to parents that we're always on auto-pilot, or always just hanging on by a thread, just flying by the seats of our pants without picking our heads up out of the trenches to see the forest for the trees and all of the other metaphors too.

Your thoughtful responses disprove that bullshit 100 times over.

And they deserve a lot more space than just one super-long post. So I'm going to split this b up.

1. Tell me about her. 
The other mom you hate. 
Tell me all about her. 

- I have not included every response. That would make for a long read. If multiple responses tread the same ground, I included one representative response. 

- I have changed minor identifying details to protect the innocent. The husband's name is "Blyan" and the kids are "Fricken and Cruster," for example.

- Except to alter minor identifying details, I did not edit the answers.

Okay! So let's get into it. Who do we hate?

1. A few of you don't hate anybody.

And whatever you're on, I want some.
glue?
oh
glue.
I thought
you know
but
yeah
okay
glue.
I feel really lucky... I don't have any moms I hate.

I feel like we're all on the same page -- walking around the park, moms are all smiling at each other. There's more camaraderie than I was expecting.

Actually, now that you mention it, I remember feeling like that too.

Right after I had Chicken it was like I'd just joined a secret society. Remember how in high school you could just look at your friend and she would totally get that you needed the Bonne Bell cherry chapstick and pass it to you under the desks?

It's like that. Only with strangers. And that instant of connection gives you so much more than palm-warmed cherry wax. The quick snap of eye contact with another mom at the park, no words required. She gets you. Man, that's a lifeboat.


2. We hate mean girls.

We hate moms who feel like there's something to win, not just in the 30,000 feet, personal-excellence, I'm-competing-with-myself kind of way. These are women who want to win something from you.


She is constantly in competition. Comments on my weight, brags about what her kids are doing, backhandedly insults my parenting choices ("where are the kids? At home with a sitter? Good for you for being able to leave them and come here. I could never do that. I always felt so guilty."



I hate judgy moms. I hate that woman are still criticizing one another for their choices in life. If you choose to (or have to) work, Great! If you choose to (or have to) stay home, fabulous! Just shut up about it and move on. 




I hate the mom who, like, PARENTS to my kid in front of me. I'm all for "it takes a village," but bitch, you aren't in my village. Step off. Extra hate points if she uses parenting terms that are shaming - "you were being a very bad girl when you took that ball." Oh hell no you did not just call my kid bad.





I am with you guys 100%. These moms are mean.
And they are not invited into our clubhouse.
We should hate them.
But you know who we hate even more?

3. We hate that perfect mom.

We hate her for her easy fucking perfect catalog life. We hate her smooth hair, her affectionate spouse, her dusted bookshelves that are made of real wood and not IKEA particleboard, her polite children who request vegetables and then have the audacity to actually eat them before putting themselves to bed and sleeping 14 hours straight every night. We hate how patient, happy, kind, organized, funny, and smart she is.

We hate her trim, slender bod. We hate that bad. If you're skinny and a mom, consider this a warning. Just watch your back at Gymboree. That tight little package is about to get shanked with safety scissors.

that sundress was a bad call today flaca 
your arms look
like a life drawing
it makes me
want to stab you

Her house is always clean and organized, her husband actually does half of all the housework and child care even though she is a SAHM, she is in great shape and always has time to exercise.



Perfectly put together - the makeup, the hair, the outfit. Outfits? Who has time to put together OUTFITS? I feel wildly successful if I have a top that even somewhat goes with pants. Real pants, not yoga pants (damn office dresscode). And shoes that aren't moccasins. So I'm watching her, looking beautiful and clean and put together. Then, she smiles while pulling a healthy snack from her designer diaper bag. It's hard to say what it is, but I think that's actually infant raw food. Like a no-bake cookie but definitely not a cookie. Probably a vegetable fruit conglomerate of oat-like superfood that will make her baby smarter than mine.

She has a perfect body, how the heck does she have time and energy to workout?



Why are you always blow-drying your hair? Is it to make me feel like shit? It is, isn't it? Also, thanks for never having food stains on your clothes and always having "THE BEST DAY!" and telling me all about this amazing salmon with capers and shit you made last night that the kids loved. Jesus, I hope my husband never meets you.




Her kids always sleep. Her marriage has no problems.




When she's bored senseless reading Goodnight Moon, she smiles and thinks only about the emotional/cognitive development of her child. She makes me want to puke.




She's skinny. And she has time to read a book. Oh yeah. And her kid sleeps through the night.



I can only speak for myself, because I wrote one of those up there. But when I say "I hate her for being perfect," what I'm really saying is, "I hate her for being better than I am," which really means, "I hate how crappy I am."

I'm sad that we're so hard on ourselves. I'm sad that we all believe that a win doesn't mean anything if that metaphorical blue ribbon gets pinned on an XL blouse smeared with peanut butter handprints.

You know what we're doing in this picture?
I'm teaching Chicken how to take a photograph
while I peel open the pea pod
of a snap pea
that I helped my son to grow
over the last couple of months.

You know what I see in this picture?
A paunchy belly.
And weird arms.

I'm sad that, in some ways, we're right.

Here, now, forever, the book is the cover. The package is the product.

Strangers aren't going to stop by your cart at the store and tell you that you're a great mom if your 3-year-old has a chocolate goatee from the free grocery store cookie, and the 1-year-old isn't wearing pants, and you've got a gluey white crust in your hair that looks EXACTLY like what you're thinking right now.

That package says "in our family we eat cheese straight from the can and pants are formalwear, donned only for NASCAR events and Texaco shopping sprees on Sundays."

There goes that kid
mowing down the baby
with the shopping cart
the one with no pants
muddy diaper
leaves in his hair
some kind of
crust
around his mouth
you know
the one with the great mom

The package is the product. And when the product is your family, you really care about doing a great job. Sadly, doing a great job developing your family takes EXACTLY the same amount of time as detailing the package.

So it sucks for those of us who have to choose between doing our hair, or doing an art project with glue (yeah, it was glue in my hair. Wait... what were you thinking it was?)

We become adversaries to the skinny, healthy-snack moms. Because they make us feel, acutely, that maybe we've made the wrong choice.

You know who else it sucks for?

Skinny moms.
The mom who packs healthy snacks and get eye-rolled at the park.
The mom who chooses to let her kid watch a Sesame Street so she can put on mascara and pants with a zipper.

The mom who gets shut out of the hard-drinking Our Lives Are The Fucking Outtakes From Mad Max: Thunder Road Sisterhood Club because everyone thinks she couldn't possibly understand.

And why can't she relate to chaos and uncertainty and tantrums and spousal resentment?
Because she's wearing jeans today?
Because her car is clean and her kid said please?
Because she's thin?
Obviously.

I'm saying this to myself. I don't know if it applies to you. But in delighting in my resentment for "perfect" moms, I have become a mean girl.

(Cue the moment in the Lifetime movie when she catches a glimpse of her reflection in the shattered mirror...)

Those of us who are messy and sloppy know that when it comes to our hard work on our families, the package is NOT the product. We know that only the best-loved books have such tattered and stained covers.

But after I yearn with the operatic self-pity of a living martyr for the world to look past my appearance and see me for who I really am, I conveniently forget to do the same when I see a beautiful mother, a smiling mother, a wealthy mother. Her life is obviously perfect because her shoes are on-trend and she's buying grapes in November. Seriously, that's like a $22 bag of grapes. Bitch.

It's not about the grapes.
Obviously.

For all my shouting from the blogtops about moms having each other's backs, I've been awfully merciless to moms who I assume don't need my mercy.

I'm truly sorry, moms who look nice.

I'm sorry because I was having a hard day and I didn't give you a chance to meet my eye and give me that lifeboat I needed so badly. I'm sorry I wasn't there to give you yours.

It wasn't you. It was me. I looked at you and I felt so ugly and shitty, like some droopy sweater hanging by one shoulder at Ross. I felt shitty, so I shit on you. You look really pretty today.

One survery respondent said it best...

The mom who looks awesomely put-together at drop off inspires some angry jealous feelings, but all my mom-aimed grumbles are pretty much aimed at myself.

4 comments:

  1. This is so true! We are our own worst critics, and being so hard on ourselves makes it easy to be hard on others.

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  2. First of all, you always look cute. Secondly, you are the most healthy snack packing mom I've ever known. Sooooooo.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Martha... I should email you a pic of me right now... I'm in a maternity shelf tank in my mid-80-degree kitchen eating a frozen Kit Kat bar. Two words. ROLE MODEL.

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