Did you know there’s a war? (UH! what is it goood fo-sorry…) There’s a war on, well- everything, these days. There’s been the “War on Terror” since 9/11, and the “War on Drugs” since 1969 and Obama’s new reversal in his War on Cannabis. There’s the War on Taxes, War on Kids, War on Pitbulls, the War on Women and War on SAHM moms, which has imploded into a Civil Mom War after the exchange of remarks by Hilary Rosen & Ann Romney (click the “Mom War” link for more, in case you’ve somehow missed it) and it needs to end. NOW. (That was my Mom-tone, so you know I’m serious.) Do we really need to add to the existing struggles of motherhood by brewing up a war of our very own? Does it even really exist, or is it another tool of propaganda to fuel media fires?
“Patriarchy is not men. Patriarchy is a system in which both women and men participate. It privileges, inter alia, the interests of boys and men over the bodily integrity, autonomy, and dignity of girls and women. It is subtle, insidious, and never more dangerous than when women passionately deny that they themselves are engaging in it. This abnormal obsession with women’s faces and bodies has become so normal that we (I include myself at times—I absolutely fall for it still) have internalized patriarchy almost seamlessly. We are unable at times to identify ourselves as our own denigrating abusers, or as abusing other girls and women.A case in point is that this conversation was initially promulgated largely by women; a sad and disturbing fact.”
“We as women spend our whole lives being judged, and never more so than for our roles as mothers. We suffer for it, and frankly, we dish it out in spades. We park ourselves in separate camps, casting suspicious glances across the schoolyard. And it sucks because the judgment is there and it’s real and it stems so often from our own deepest fears and insecurities. We pay lip service to each other’s “choices” – and talk smack behind each other’s backs.”
So what gives? In Cooling -one of my original favorite Tori Amos songs- (Don’t even get me started…) she ponders, “Do I hate what she is? …Or do I want to be her?” which I think succinctly backs up Ms. Williams’ point: the negativity comes from our insecurities. It always seems like everyone else is doing it better or with more style and ease. It probably ties into the “grass is always greener” theory, too, but- now stay with me here, ladies; could it be happening because half of the time, we’re trying to come off as put together for our friends & family even when we’re actually screaming, “I FUCKING HATE EVERYONE, GAAHHHHHHHH!!” inside? (Come on, I know it’s not just me.) Okay, so don’t scream at me next time we hang out (unless you really need to- just warn me first!) but you’re smart. You’re a woman. You get it.
I put makeup on before I hang with my friends- or most anywhere in public, honestly. It’s bareMinerals, but it’s makeup nonetheless. The same could certainly be said for the veil I put over my life that I am certainly guilty of wearing for others, so that they don’t see my flaws. But I have a feeling all those matchy-matchy moms at the park have on their veils, too- mineral or not. We as women and mothers have the right and the duty to be honest with ourselves and others. The only thing coming from hiding ourselves from others is other people hiding themselves!
Marianne Williamson had it right in her book, A Return to Love:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Are you an attachment parent who has let their baby cry it out? A longtime vegetarian who now eats free range, local meat on occasion? Do you think Jesus kicks ass but get bugged by his followers? Are a single or unemployed parent with little resources who still wants to make good choices? A new mother who has made original parenting decisions she regrets, and has learned from her mistakes? A single mom struggling just to make ends meet? Are you a privileged SAHM and wife who wishes for more, or for just one day away from her husband and kids? A working mom who wishes for less and one day with her husband and kids? Are you a military wife and still a hippie at heart? A nanny or a teacher who spends all day being awesome with kids who comes home too tired to deal with her own? Are you a liberal with conservative values? A conservative who supports legalizing marijuana? Say so!
Have you both touted the importance of breastfeeding and given your infant formula? Are you a mother who has struggled with PPD and still tried to smile everyday? Have you lost a family member to cancer and had to grieve while helping your children grieve and done a shitty job at both? Are you a mother who has had a hospital birth with an OB? A birthing center birth with a midwife? A water birth? Guess what? ME TOO. I have been and am all of the above… and more. Once again, I have a feeling I’m not alone- at least not in ALL of it. My point is that women are multifaceted by nature- we all have a closet bearing many hats, even if some of them are outdated or gathering dust on skeletons. Each situation has things that are wonderful and also has things that cause us to struggle with our own feelings of who and what we should be, and are.
Any mother can tell you she’s had her battles. Whether it’s Battle of the Dishes (Captain’s Log, Sinkdate: 5,3853. It seems as if they’re breeding again...), Battle of the Mt. Washmore (R.I.P. One out of Every. Single. Pair. of baby socks) or one of the always exhausting Battles of Getting-You- Baby-to-Sleep-at-3am, or Battle to Get-Your-Toddler-to-Stop-Crying-Over-Something-COMPLETELY-Irrational (like this one) or the eternal Battle Not To Become Our Own Mothers. We’ve ALL been there… because we’re all mothers ourselves.
At least as mothers, let’s agree on these things about raising children- the tie that binds all mothers, no matter which flavor of parenting we choose. I’d love to read your own answers in the comments!
Hard. So hard.
Parenting requires becoming a ninja-jedi in SO many ways- mentally (Sneaking cookies, you are…) physically (You know you’ve done that lightning-reflex Bruce Lee catch and looked around thinking, “Damn, no one even saw that!“) and spiritually (I am calm… I AM CALM. THISISMYCALMFACE. 0_o) while on the job, without instructions or training. I had been a nanny for nearly a decade by the time I had kids and STILL wasn’t prepared. Babies are needy. It goes without saying that they need, well… everything. Toddlers need help with nearly everything- but just enough so they think they’re doing it themselves. After they outgrow the toddler years comes the point you have to keep track of everything in their ever-expanding universe: where they put their other shoe, their favorite shirt and (increasingly secret) favorite stuffed animal, strange names and fads that are, for some reason, “cool”, (wearing shaped rubber bands that cost $5 for 10?! Huh?) school performances and holidays, play dates, homework, baseball practice, birthday parties… (cheesecake, jelly bean, BOOM!) You get it. It makes us all the more grateful that it’s:
We’ve all read 1 Corinthians 13 about the definition of love, but what comes right before that is a message of not only tolerance, but importance and celebration of our differences. Funny enough, I couldn’t find ANY “Holier-than-thou” instructions in the entire Holy Book. (or anything that supports gay bashing, but that’s another post entirely)Take a look at this excerpt from Corinthians 12:
Bob Marley had the same idea behind “One Love” (just with a lot more smoke involved) and Buddha bears the same philosophy as well: We are all parts of the same whole and what you do to others, you do to yourself.
Okay, after that much scripture, here’s the much more Julie-version and a little window into my personality via a mother I’ve found intelligent, eloquent, and relevant long before she bore that title:
What she said, folks….
Suck up and be nice.