I am exhausted. Not from a baby crying or a lack of sleep. Not from nursing all the time. Not from running around after a toddler. No, I am tired of the motherhood game. I guess the buzz word right now is 'mommy competitions'. It is a very real, very deep rooted thing. Even in the most well meaning people, even in myself, I find these one-upping's occur all too often. Who has sleeping through the night figured out first? Who breast fed the longest? Who only uses clothe diapers? If disposable, are they the 'good for the environment' ones endorsed by adorable celebrities? Did you use purees or baby-led weaning? Did you make your own baby food? All organic? All local? The proper variety? Did you get into mothers-day-out programs? Traditional or Montessori program? Is your play room set up Pinterest perfect? Are the toys all developmentally appropriate and not cluttered? Do you use the word 'no' or only positive reinforcement?
The list could go on and on, and on, and on. Exhausted. I had no idea that being a mom would mean being thrown into a passive aggressive motherhood battle. Even in the best circumstances, when you find your group, the one where you can breathe, it happens. I am not sure we can even help it anymore. And sometimes I wonder if you just start assuming it is mommy shaming when it is pure conversation. This culture has changed me, and I fear not for the better.
Where are the days of community? Of a village raising our kids? I have only heard of such things. Did they ever really exist? Or was it one of those mythical times that we like to look on with unattainable nostalgia. I don't think so. I truly believe that at some point community existed. That moms changed each other's kid's diapers. That if you were feeding one kid you would feed them all. That you didn't have to get your house 'ready' for a play date but that people felt comfortable in your lived in home. That another mother could tell your child 'no' without it causing a war.
No wonder so many mothers feel alone. It takes an immense amount of effort to find a mommy's group. You have to scour the internet, then brave attending an event where most of the other attendees know each other and you are the odd man out. What if you are an introvert? Well then you are up a creek because Social Bug Mommy is making all the friends. What if you don't want advice but rather an ear to listen? Too bad because Expert Mommy only has answers, no empathy. What if you were looking for a friend, not just so-and-so's mom? Good luck, it is like dating all over again.
Amazing mother's groups do exist and I am lucky enough to be a part of one. But there are still times where you wonder, is this as authentic as it gets? Or are we filtering our best selves as to appear to have it all figured out? Can we get down to the nitty gritty? Admit exhaustion and not 'loving' every minute? Can we accept that there are days when we are not the best mom but rather just getting through the moment? Yes, my group allows this, in small doses. I am just as guilty of filtering myself, fearing that if I don't I will be looked at as a less than mom. Is this my group's fault? Absolutely not.
The pressure of social media (Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, blogs :) ) has forever changed the course of authentic motherhood, with their filtered windows into people's lives. Put the picture up of the dirty kitchen, tears and mommy in her pajamas unto 2 pm? No. Lets put up the one picture of the day with jr. playing with his wooden toys, properly stacked (by mommy..shhh) looking angelic in the only clean spot of the play room. The first 20 pictures had glimpses of the dirty laundry in the hall, but that 21st, with the right filter and crop technique looks perfect! And this goes on and on. How is a mom, barely hanging by a thread, supposed to save her sanity much less her confidence in motherhood if these are the only examples we have. I do not know.
And, to me, that is exhausting.