I love my mother, but I swear I feel the air of judgment from her more often than a mother should judge another mother (especially a mother that is her own child). I feel like, as moms, we should all stick together. We’re part of the same club, all just trying to do our best and survive. So why does my mother judge me and make me feel like she did motherhood so much better? It’s because she has convenienetly forgotten these things:
1. Children aren’t always sweet and perfect. My mom thinks my kid can do no wrong. She thinks my kid is perfect. She thinks my kid is sweet all the time. She can’t understand why I’m relieved to get a break, or for my kid to go to school, or go to sleep some days. She acts like I’m supposed to be enthusiastic about having my child attached to my hip all day long. Because she has forgotten what kids are really like sometimes.
2. Sleep deprivation feels like torture. My mom acts like it is normal to wake up at 4 or 5 a.m. and not take a nap during the day. That’s because she is kind of old now, and that’s what old people do, right? And she doesn’t have to function and care for children all day long, and she isn’t breastfeeding. Her energy levels aren’t drained at the speed of light by energy-sucking (literally and figuratively) little people. She doesn’t understand why I’m crabby and look like shit and feel even worse. Because she has forgotten what real sleep deprivation feels like.
3. It’s really hard to get dinner on the table every night (or, really any night). My mom thinks we should sit down for dinner as a family every night. She judges us for eating meals in a way that works for us (feeding the kids, and if we’re lucky eating dinner together after we get them to bed). And she judges us for ordering takeout. She seems to think I’m three people, instead of just one. She should remember since she birthed and raised me. She knows I’m just one person with just two arms and no help and two kids and three meals a day to contend with and OMG why does it feel like I’m constantly preparing meals… She doesn’t understand why this is hard for me, because she hasn’t had to get dinner on the table for a family with little kids in 30 years.
4. Kids need sleep. My mom thinks little kids need, like, eight hours of sleep a night. She acts like I must drug my child to get him to sleep 12 hours a night. And if he slept for 12 hours, why in the world would he need a nap? Oh, I don’t know, maybe because he’s 3 years old!? And while we’re on the topic of sleep: If I put him down later it does not mean he sleeps later and yes, sleep schedules are important.
5. Motherhood is really hard (like, really really hard). I’m sure my mom knows motherhood is hard. She is a mom, after all. But I don’t think she remembers what that hard stage from birth to preschool feels like. I don’t think she realizes that I’m going through that experience and that it feels hard for me right now. That I’m in the thick of it. That this is what it is like for me, and mothers of little children everywhere, and that it lasts a while. I should not have to feel like I have to make excuses for not having time to talk on the phone, for being exhausted, for not video chatting enough, for never getting enough sleep or enough work done or enough dinner on the table or enough of anything. I feel like I’m never enough. And she has forgotten what that feels like.
I’m pretty sure my mom (and I’m sure some of your moms) don’t mean to act like this. They don’t mean to judge. They don’t mean to forget what being a mother to little kids is like. Their time has passed and they look back with rose-colored glasses and only remember the joy and love and how fast it all goes. And who can really blame them? I’m already doing that and I’m not even out of the baby stage yet. They are looking back as grandmothers who get to experience little ones again but without any of that hard stuff. But it sure would be nice if sometime my mom said, “Honey, you don’t need to cook so often. Just say screw it and order a pizza!”