Wednesday, March 26, 2014


On a flight to Texas this weekend, I noticed a mom traveling alone with her little girl.  Izzy* was about 15 months old and her mom... well, she was about to fall asleep with her eyes open. Because I was full of caffeine for my early-morning flight, I was unusually talkative (and jittery) and mentioned to her that I had kids of my own at home, so she shouldn't worry that Izzy had just pulled my hair and had been licking my elbow for the last five minutes.  It didn't bother me... that's what kids do.   I'd rather my kids lick someone's elbow than the floor at Dickey's BBQ.  But sometimes life likes to spit right in your eye and waddayagonnado?

When she asked how many kids I had and how old they were, I told her... and was met with the obligatory wide eyes at the whole "they're 16 months apart" piece of trivia about my life.  And yes, she gave me the "How in the world do you handle it?" stare that I've gotten used to from new mothers who need a little more sleep than their child allows.  So, I nodded my head, and murmured my obligatory "(sigh)I know....(sigh)".

I was about to admit that most days, just remembering to feed and water them is my only victory.  But then she said something that stopped me cold.

"Yea... I just have the one. So, it's a lot easier."

Just?  JUST?  

Nonononononononononono.  There is no JUST.  And there is no EASIER. I've heard this song before, and I'm taking a stand.  I'm tired of mothers who apologize for not having more than one kid because they think - or have been told by other mothers - that somehow their value in this discussion is diminished by the number of kids they don't have.

Pisses me off.   TO. NO. END.

"No.  You don't have just one.  You have one.  And she's awesome.  And also?  Having one doesn't make it easier by any stretch of the imagination.  Having a kids is tough, whether you have 1 or 10.  Don't qualify your motherhood.  You're a good mom.  She's a beautiful little girl and you're doing great."

And I went back to letting Izzy lick my elbow while I read my book.  

She looked a little taken aback... possibly because I hadn't brushed my teeth yet and I refuse to wear makeup that early in the morning... but maybe because I was the first woman to say something like that to her.

And that's just sad.

Seriously, why can't we all give and take credit where it's due?

We've all missed out on hundreds of hours of sleep because we're a mom.  We all have our "I was so tired that I threw up" stories.  We all have explosive poop stories to share... you know, when the poop comes up out of the neck of the onesie? Usually in public. And always when we are low on wipes?   We all have those travel nightmares when the kid screams the whole flight or drive because they have an ear infection that we didn't know about.  We all feel guilty for one thing or another every day of our mothering life.  We all have our moments when we just don't think we can handle one more second of crying/whining/screaming/fighting.  And that's when we need other mothers to talk to and cry over a beer with.  We all need that time to just be a human... not a climbing wall or a milk machine or a maid. 

How about we stop putting qualifiers in front of everything about being a mom... because it's getting old.  I'm tired of the labels... because they never end.  There's never anyone "good enough" and we're always ready to slap a label on someone so that we diminish who they are and the value they have.  And why?  To make ourselves feel better?  To make our choices seem like the only choice that is appropriate?

You know what?  We're moms.  That's it.  It's nothing fancy and it doesn't require a qualifier in front of it.  Rather than arguing about whose life is harder or whose way of mothering is better, we should stand together as one force.  We should stop comparing ourselves to others for either the better or the worse.  We should stop being mean girls and start being empathetic women.  Can you imagine the power we would have if we did that one simple thing?  If we stopped worrying about what others are doing or what others think of us and just took care of each other?  We would be unstoppable.

When I look at my friends, I don't see a stay-at-home mom.  I don't see a working mom. I don't see a mom of four or a mom of one.  I don't see a mom that gave birth with or without drugs, or a mom that adopted.  I don't see that you have twins (although, I will admit that multiples may be the exception to this whole post because OMG... that has to be the hardest thing ever)(okay, fine.  I see you have twins and I'm in awe.  Serious awe.) 

But, I digress.

You know what I see when I look at my friends? A MOM.   

Tearing each other or ourselves down, either outright or passive-aggressively, doesn't make anyone a better mother.  The mommy wars are just about the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen or heard.  Second only to when The Bean walked outside naked yesterday and declared she wasn't naked... because she had socks on.  And who can argue with that logic?

There are common themes that run through motherhood, whether you work inside the home or outside the home... whether you have one kid or six... whether your children eat tofu or french fries.  Those themes usually center around poop, nursing, sleep, crying, whining, eating, poop, teething, growth charts, sickness, losing the baby fat, fevers, laundry, forgetting to change the laundry, rewashing the laundry three times, getting the smell of mold out of the laundry, keeping the house a semi-respectable state of clean, bed wetting, the best way to change a bed in the middle of the night without turning on the lights, getting the kid to eat a veggie, lifelong fatigue, potty-training, oh so many fill-in-the-blank lessons, doctor's visits, trimming nails, picking boogers, tubbys, reasoning with a toddler, which car seat is best, how to fit 36 hours of life in a 24 hour period... (deep breath) and more poop.

But the most important theme that every mother can agree on?  This. $%*#. Is. HARD.

And if a mom you know tells you that it's not hard and she's got this mothering thing down, just smile.  Because she's lying.  She's lying to you and she's lying to herself. And she probably needs a night out with the girls so she can decompress.  (And you should go ahead and schedule that ASAP.)

Listen, at the end of the day, our issues may not be exactly the same.  For instance, my girls drive me bonkers on Tuesdays because that's the day they only eat orange food.  And also?  They've recently started growling at me like wild animals when they don't get what they want.   But, you know what?  I bet your kids are driving you crazy, too. And it doesn't matter.  Because I can be empathetic.  I can care.  I can laugh with you about the insanity of parenting.  I can give and/or ask for advice on raising children and staying mostly sane. I can cry with you over a beer.  I can tell you that it will get better... and then that phase will be over and it will go back to sucking until the next stage... and the cycle repeats itself over and over and over until you die.  But it's okay!  I can let you lean on me when it gets to be too much and you're ready to crumble.  Because I'm going to need you to do all of that for me sometime.

That's what friends do.  Screw that.  That's what moms do.  In some form or another, we do that for our children every day (minus the beer).  Why can't we do that for other women who we have a sisterhood with simply because we're moms?  I don't even need to know your name to empathize with you because I know what you're going through.  We're in the trenches together. We should celebrate each other and our successes!  Guess what?!  The kid made it to another birthday mostly intact!  TIME TO PARTY...

.... but not too late because the kids wake up early on Saturdays.

Seriously, let's celebrate our motherhood.  Let's revel in the power of our existence and our experience.  Let's harness that and figure out a way to put our combined expertise to work for the good of humanity... and the good of our psyche.

No more labels.

No more qualifiers.

No more "just".

We are mothers whether we have 1 kid or 100... whether we work in the home or outside of it.  The knowledge and experience we possess right now is staggering, so stop the comparisons.  Stop the worrying about what someone else is doing.  You!  With the circles under her eyes and the vomit on her shoulder... the one traveling alone with her kid across the country... the one who hasn't slept in months.  You're doing a great job.  You deserve - we all deserve - a big round of applause STANDING OVATION.

End of story.

Now, recline that seat two inches and take a nap... I'll watch Izzy for you.

*Name changed in case her mom reads the blog and is all:  Yea!  You really did have bad breath!  What was THAT about!