It is often stated that moms have the toughest job in the world. Having only worked a handful of jobs in my lifetime I cannot confirm if that statement is true but I can confirm that it is really, really tough. In fact, being a mom isn't a job; it is several jobs. We are caregivers, nurses, teachers, short order cooks, encouragers, coaches, chauffeurs, counsellors, cleaners... you get the idea.
In addition to our multiple "jobs", our work never ends. We are moms 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, 52 weeks per year, every single year for the rest of our lives. That's right - no coffee breaks, no lunch breaks, no sick days, no vacation days, no flex days, no statutory holidays. Once we decide to bring life to this Earth we have forever committed to being moms.
And, the "work" is tough. Somedays so tough that we break down in tears in a public washroom. Somedays so tough that we yell at our kids in the grocery store. Somedays so tough that we lock ourselves in the bathroom to get a moment's peace and quiet.
No one can truly appreciate how difficult it is to be a mom unless they have walked in the shoes of one. So why is it that moms are also the first to criticize and judge one another?
My Facebook newsfeed this week has been littered with stories of upset moms who were brought to tears because of the criticizing comments of strangers. The part of each story that makes me cringe is this: all of the criticizing strangers were moms themselves. Moms criticizing and belittling other moms.
What ever happened to "the village" that would help us raise our child rather than beat us down?
Sure, I admit, my eyes occasionally roll at the mom who cannot control her kid in the grocery store lineup. But you know what? My kid has been that kid. Many times. Sometimes she's hungry. Sometimes she's tired. Sometimes she's cutting a tooth. And, frankly, sometimes, she's just being a kid.
No mom wants to be "that mom". But we've all been "that mom". And we've all had "those kids".
It shouldn't come as a newsflash that there is no perfect parent out there. We've all had our moments. Yes, even the Mom who only posts photos of her children wearing perfectly pressed matching white outfits cautiously licking ice-cream cones on a sweltering hot afternoon has less-than-perfect moments. I promise you she does. Just like the rest of us.
We all have our days (sometimes weeks). So, rather than criticize, can we please give other moms the benefit of the doubt?
It's as simple as:
"Gee, it looks like your hands are full. Can I help you load that?"
"Oh my goodness, I know EXACTLY what you're going through, my kid JUST did that last week. Don't sweat it - we all know what it's like."
"If you like, I could watch your kids for a minute while you tend to that other need."
"I remember that stage so well. It sucked, but it didn't last forever."
"Here, I bought you a coffee. I hope your day improves!"
Not so hard, is it?
There are days that I dream of living in another country, where the people surround mothers and children with love and care. Where villages literally do raise children.
Since that's out of the question, I'm proposing that we all take a vow. Right here. Right now. Repeat after me:
"I will not criticize other moms. Instead, I will compassionately support and encourage them."
And together we will recreate the village. One interaction at a time.