I belong to several Mommy groups on Facebook. Several for older Moms…and several more for just Moms in General. I love these groups for many reasons. Not just for questions posed and ingenious answers that follow, but for the sense of community these groups give me. As I mentioned on my Home page, I moved my life from Florida to Massachusetts right after the birth of little O. I have no friends here yet. I have no support close by except my Mother-in-law, god bless her!..and some awesome family that are a phone call away. But no daily friends to chat with and compare baby notes with. I know, I know…I can seek out play groups and “Mommy and me” type events…and I’m sure that will come, but right now, trudging through the New England snow to sing “The Wheels On The Bus,” isn’t practical or appealing. So until the ground thaws, it’s a nice outlet to have some cyber friends going through some of the same stuff.
But last week on one of the group’s pages, who’s name shall remain nameless, because I actually can’t remember which group it was, nor does it matter….a mom posted a photo of her son who looked about 10 – 12 months old. He was sitting in a pack and play. She asked the question if it could hurt her son’s eyesight if he watched a cartoon through the mesh side of the pack and play. Now before you jump to respond, let me tell you, the number of women who jumped all over this mother because she was letting her child watch television was astounding. Now I don’t know how old she is or what her background is. Regardless, she didn’t need to be slapped upside the head by other Mom’s when she was seeking answers. The question she posed, was not, should my child be watching TV. Yet, more than half of the “support group” moms chose to enlighten her, unsolicited, and some not very nicely, I might add. Without even knowing her circumstances. Did she have a toddler as well? Did she (fill in the blank)…..the circumstances could be anything..but one thing is for sure, they are HER circumstances.
Now I am an educated woman. I am old enough to “know better” on many subjects. I have been educated about “no TV for children under 2 years of age.” But here is the big confession, cause this is about being real. Have I put on PBS for 15-30 minutes here and there throughout a given day? Have I introduced my little O to Thomas the Train (whom he adores!)? Have I sought out what Baby TV has to offer on Hulu? (Concertino is pretty wonderful)…so, YES. There, I have said it. But don’t scream at me or chastise me. Don’t shake your finger and raise your eyebrow. I’m not going to defend my choice. Because that’s the whole point of this post. You don’t know what my circumstances are, as I don’t know what yours are. You wouldn’t get a gasp out of me if you told me you thought Sesame Street was really good these days. Nope. Because YOU are raising your child… Your unique baby who is unlike any other baby in the whole world. And YOUR circumstances are your own. Now, if you sat your child in front of the tube playing loops of Dexter or The Walking Dead, I’d probably think you were on crack, but I wouldn’t tell you so. I would probably tell you about this sweet show on PBS, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, that teaches practical skills for growing and developing. But again, it’s a fine line we tread.
I had a woman after my last blog “How To Have It All…Just Not All At Once,” who commented unfavorably regarding what I said about having a child in daycare. I had said that if I had to put my son in daycare everyday, it would be someone else essentially raising my son. Now, there is NO judgement in that statement. Perhaps it was a bit of a blanket statement and for that, I apologize. I understand that women have to do whatever they can to make things work. But it is over 8 hours a day of someone else caring for your child. Yes, you instill your values and are raising your child, but there is an outside influence that is clocking in a lot of hours. It’s not judgement, it’s just fact. The point is, this mother responded with such defense. And I get it. Because as mothers we feel like we have to defend every move we make…from formula feeding, to TV time, to you name it. Most of us question every choice we make throughout the day. We do a number on ourselves constantly….do we really need another mother’s judgement? The stay at home mom is constantly defending her choice to stay at home….the working mom is defending her choice/or necessity to remain in the work force. And that is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what we may feel guilty or insecure about.
I’m sure you all have seen the Similac commercial “The Sisterhood of Motherhood.” It blew up my Facebook the day it started being shared. You can click on the title here to take a gander. The reason it is funny…is because there is truth in it. ( truth in comedy, right?) I mean, there was going to be a rumble at that playground! Mothers against mothers….against mothers. It took a baby being in danger to bond them all. Why should it take a tragedy to bring people together? I mean, really Ladies? Aren’t we better than that? Why is it we are so quick to pounce on each other? Why can’t we be each other’s champions and cheerleaders? Where is empathy among Mothers? Come to think of it, where is empathy among all people? Why are we so quick to find each other’s faults?
This endeavor of mothering takes courage, stamina, and at times, a god-like amount of patience. To rephrase an old adage…never judge a mother till you’ve walked a mile in her shoes, be they Gucci pumps or sensible flats. The truth is, we need each other. I need help, encouragement, and friendship everyday. And wine. Lots of wine. But seriously, a reassuring nod from the sisterhood of motherhood goes a long way. When I’m navigating my stroller in the slushy parking lot of my local Target, and I see another mom doing the same….I try to give her a reassuring smile. Sometimes a kind comment. The point is, even the smallest kindness can get you through a day. Especially a tough day. We all have them. So the next time we rush to judge, or comment on a Facebook post…Take pause. Think. Could this be you? If not now, maybe someday soon? If there are two things I’ve learned in my “advanced maternal age” is to never say never and kindness goes a long way.
Until next time, keep fighting the good fight, and remember…behind every great kid, is a mom who is sure she is messing it up! :)) xo