A couple of years ago on Motherās Day, I shared a call to peace in the mommy wars and to step into our power as moms and women.
Over the last couple of years, Iāve noticed a shift. The āwarā between working moms and stay-at-home moms seems to have calmed a bitā¦ maybe weāve realized that weāre all both! All moms work, whether outside the home or in managing a household day to day. And moms who work outside the home leave their hearts home with their children and are forever divided in their attention.
But even though the mom wars have calmed, we all donāt seem any less stressed. Every mom I know has more on her plate than she knows what to do with. Every mom I know is looking for ways to simplify and optimize just to get some peace and space.
Is this just the way life is? A stage that will pass? Or is something about motherhood today off balance?
These are the questions Iāve been asking myself a lot lately.
Flowers, cards, and some time āoffā is welcome and appreciated, but what do moms need on a deeper level?
I donāt think this question can be answered without recognizing that motherhood has changed a lot in a generation or two. We may have moved past the mom ālabelsā for the most part (I hope), but mom guilt seems like itās sticking around.
I know I still struggle with it. When Iām working, I feel guilty that Iām not spending time with my family. When Iām with my family, itās hard not to let my mind drift to all the things I need to do for work.
This amazing time in history lets us have it allā¦ a career, a family, relationships, etc. But it also puts pressure on us to do it all. Statistically, moms are spending more time working AND more time with their children. Weāre all working more, sleeping less, and often more stressed.
One major thing has changed in motherhood in the last few generations is the level of support. Of course there are exceptions and this can vary based on where we live and how much family we have nearby, but overall, weāre trying to do more with less support.
And that is the one thing we all seem to need and want the most right now! Real community and support. So today, Iād encourage us all to consider a few thingsā¦
While itās easy to focus on the things we disagree about (often vaccines, parenting, food choices, etc.), the truth is that we agree on a lot of the most important stuff.
Like the fact that we all love our families dearly and want to do the best we can for them. That if weāre being honest, we feel like weāre failing at that some of the timeā¦ or even a lot of the time.
That motherhood may be the most fulfilling thing weāve ever done, but itās also often the most exhausting.
This applies no matter what stage of motherhood we are in. If we are single moms, stay-at-home moms, working moms. We all feel it and weāre all in this together.
Itās easy to focus on the stuff we donāt agree about. Or to staunchly defend our choicesā¦ maybe sometimes to convince ourselves that weāre right. This can lead to a lot of mom guilt, but this is a two-sided act and Iām going to propose a counter-intuitive solutionā¦
That we actually get better about talking about (and hearing about) the parts we donāt agree with. Hereās what I meanā¦
Iāve heard several examples from friends lately where one expressed an opinion about something and another disagreed. The first friend felt that the other was āmom shamingā her because she stated a different choice or opinion.
But hereās the problemā¦
Disagreement isnāt shaming. In fact, our world needs more examples of people being able to have different opinions while maintaining love and respect for each other.
Moms are incredibly powerful. Our everyday actions shape the next generation. Our buying decisions shape markets.
Letās use this power to set the example in another wayā¦
Moms are incredible. They care for the little people (and oh yeah, grow and birth them too!). They care for their loved ones (all of them), work, volunteer, cook, clean, learn, teach, decorate, listen, drive, organize, coordinate, celebrate, and basically keep all the wheels of life moving.
It doesnāt matter where or how you work or how successful you feelā¦ odds are you work overtime (and care tremendously while you do it).
So if weāre so amazing, why donāt we feel like we are most of the time? How do we get rid of the term āmom guiltā forever?
I donāt have the perfect answers to these questions (apologies if you were hoping for that). But I do think the key to breaking the cycle lies with us.
We could talk for hours about what moms need from their kids, from their partners, from men in the workplace. Case in point: how many times is a man asked āhow they balance it allā? (Probably the most common question Iām asked by men and women alikeā¦. here is my answer if youāre interested.)
I have plenty to say on those topics, but today I just want to focus on the gifts we as moms can give each other this Motherās Day (and every day after that).
Moms are vulnerable to a constant input of opinions from all sides. Nothing like putting your thoughts out into the blogosphere for 10+ years to teach you this one!
We live in a world that seems designed to incite us to have strong opinions about everything. Social media allows for debate (ahem, full-blown battles) on a wider scale than ever before. Motherhood and parenting topics are no exception, as we debate on every topic from car seats to meal choices to discipline.
There certainly are important things that warrant strong opinions and action. But letās start from a perspective of considering that we could *perhaps* be wrong, or at the very least that we could learn from someone else. From there, letās be in each otherās corners even (especially) when we disagree. And letās also stop taking it personally when someone else doesnāt share our opinion!
It takes strong mental and emotional boundaries to be able to take in different ways of thinking and filter out the worry that an opinion is a judgment on our own life. And Iād argue that itās a skill that we as moms need more than ever.
Iām not suggesting that we water everything down and avoid important conversations. In fact, Iām suggesting the opposite! Rather than shut down difficult conversations, letās learn to do it respectfully so we can learn from each other.
There are a lot of things I donāt know and only a few Iām absolutely certain aboutā¦ but one thing I do know for sure is that love, kindness and respect are things we should give freely to every single person.
In a world with so much pain, division, and hostility, we need to all become a gentle army who can say honestly and to anyone we meet āI love you and I respect youā without any qualifiers. Who can be kind to everyone, even when we disagree with them. Who have the courage to be able say āI fundamentally disagree with you, and Iād like to have an open and kind discussion about this topic while maintaining mutual respect.ā
Is it possible? I think so! We may have to break some engrained habits and it may take some practice, but what better to model to our childrenā¦
The thing about moms, is we all share a vocation ā motherhood ā but sometimes not too much else. Weāre an incredibly diverse group! We donāt all look the same, talk the same, or think the same. Not even close.
Our differences are easy to notice. Still, there are plenty of things we share. We all worry about our kids, our health, our families, our careers, and whether weāre doing it āright.ā We all feel insecure. We also all do a lot of hidden work that no one ever sees or acknowledges.
It can be really easy to admire another mom, to see what she does well, and to never say anything about it all. Letās start saying it! It only takes a second to compliment another mom and improve her whole day, if we can only look for and seize the opportunity.
After all, who else can understand what weāre going through and what we need but another mom on this same crazy ride?
Similar to my gratitude alarm, Iāve started setting a daily reminder on my phone so I donāt forget pass on a positive comment to a friend, a coworker, my own mom, another entrepreneur, or anyone I can think of who deserves some extra acknowledgement. This practice has made me realize that I am often already recognizing the good in others mentally, but need to start verbalizing it as well.
Bonus: Working on this habit has made it easier to speak kindly to my husband, my kids, and even myself.
As moms, weāre given a lot of advice about āleaning in,ā slowing down (aka āenjoy every moment!ā), and āwashing our faces.ā These are valuable perspectives, but Iām starting to realize that what I need most as a mom is to let other people in.
In other words, more than anything, moms (and our entire culture) needs real and meaningful community.
I get itā¦ weāre busy. We exchange thoughts, feelings, and information on social media and through texting all day long. In this wonderful and crazy modern world, the days where we live in the same neighborhood where we grew up, surrounded by extended family and friends, may be gone for most of us. And we are feeling the effects as parents.
The fact that things have changed doesnāt make authentic community any less importantā¦ it just means we have to be more intentional about cultivating it.
In todayās world, community might look a little more like a dinner club with friends. Or a momsā night out group. Or in our case, a neighborhood that feels like a small glimpse back into earlier decades and where kids roam freely and zip around on bikes under the watchful eye of friends we love.
Get rid of the word ābusy.ā Reverse engineer the schedule and build in times to connect. Forget the clean house or the fancy snacks. Easier said than done, I know, but it is so, so needed and worth it.
If the mommy wars have ended, itās time to rebuild.
Until the world figures it out, letās stand in the gap for each other. Letās look for the opportunity to slay mom guilt and replace it with affirmation and support.
Letās push ourselves out of our comfort zones and not be afraid to learn a new way, a new opinion, a new skill.
Letās stop ourselves when we feel threatened by what another mom is doing well and take a deeper look at whyā¦
Letās put down the to-do list, flip on the porch light, and let others into our messy, imperfect lives.
Moms have a unique power to shape the next generation, and we can make a difference for the women trying to ādo it allā after us. I firmly believe being vulnerable is our new superpower, and a huge gift we can give to other moms and in turn, our daughters.
Those are my thoughts, but what do you think moms need most? Iād love to have this conversation!