Mom Guilt Is Bullshit

 
 

Yall know that I love (and sometimes hate) Facebook Mommy groups. Sure they cause my to roll my eyes 8500 times a day, but I’ve also learned a lot and gotten some good tips from fellow mothers in these groups, so I stick around. And everyday in these groups, I see some form of Mom guilt rearing its ugly head.

What’s Mom guilt? It’s rooted in the twisted idea that mothers cease to be independent people, and instead should spend every waking moment with their children giving them the absolute best things on Earth, so that they grow up to be the next Einsteins. Thus when a mother does anything counter to that idea, like go to work, take time for herself, or spend money on herself, she’s assaulted with intense feelings of guilt. Sometimes this Mom guilt also comes in the form of judgmental comments from other people - the guilt is multiplied if the comments come from a family member or close friend. Basically, it’s a constant feeling of “oh shit, I’m screwing up my child because I’m not with them 24/7 giving them organic foods and enriching activities”.

Yeah…Mom guilt is bullshit. And so it’s cousin, Mom shaming. I’m over both of them.

I have a lot that I could feel guilty about, as a Mom:

  • I dumped my daughter into daycare when she was only 12 weeks old, so i could selfishly go back to work.

  • I regularly go do things without my daughter, like Target runs, get mani-pedis and attend happy hour.

  • I dared to leave my daughter with her father multiple times while I traveled, including leaving her twice for international trips.

  • I sometimes buy things for myself without buying her anything.

I mean, what kind of mother does that?!? /s

I read posts from mothers almost everyday that reflects some type of mom guilt - the most common topic is around going back to work. I have never felt any guilt about going back to work; in fact, I couldn’t wait for my maternity leave to be over. I love my daughter, she is the joy of my life and my entire heart, but I knew (and know) that staying home with her was not the wave. So I made it my mission to find her the best environment while she was away from us, and her Montessori daycare has proven to be an excellent choice (and a key part of our village). Other mom guilt topics? Breastfeeding or formula; purees or baby-led weaning; when to potty train; doing anything that deviates from the parenting “rules” (like cosleeping); doing anything fun that requires you leave your child’s side or spend money on yourself. Basically if you can make a choice, you can feel guilty about it, yay! Doesn’t this make parenting sound like fun?

While I reject mom guilt and haven’t experience much of it, I did have to conquer my hesitancy to be away from Josephine, in the infant stage. I remember the first time I went to the movies alone, or a I went to get a much needed pedicure - both times William had to practically force me out of the house, and I missed my baby, but it was so worth it. Now that we’re in the throws of the Terrible Twos, I am more than willing to run out of the house for some time alone, LOL. I did not know how much fun it could be to run errands, until I had a toddler.

I really think more mothers would feel so much better if they simply told Mom guilt to get lost. It serves no purpose! All it does it make you feel bad about every possible choice you could make regarding your child, and it doesn’t actually make you a better parent. Your kid will be fine whether they breastfeed for 2 years or get formula. Daycare could actually be a good thing for your kid, but you aren’t terrible if you decide to stay home with them. Basically, this parenting this is a crap shoot, so all you can do is make what looks like the best choice in the moment. As long as they are clothed and fed and have relatively decent manners, that’s all we can ask for, right? So don’t stress if they spend the week eating chicken fingers and grapes, they will be fine.

Have you ever felt Mom guilt? How did you handle it? Sound off in the comments!

21. The Face of a Working Mom

 
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I’ve been working since I was 16 - my first jobs were at McDonald’s and Gap. Over the years I’ve worked retail, in offices, I even was a docent at a museum. Working - having a job, and a career - is just part of my DNA. Maybe it’s because I grew up with a working mom, who always told me to make sure I had my education and my own career. I spent my childhood watching her rise from an admin role to a professional career in state government, while also taking classes at night and raising her family.

Growing up I didn’t know anyone who had a stay-at-home parent; or maybe I did and I just didn’t realize it. I assumed that every family had two working parents, like mine. I never gave much thought to being a working mother myself, because for the longest time I didn’t think about being a mother at all. But once I got married and committed to the idea of being a parent, I just assumed that I’d be a working mom like my mother was. The idea of staying at home didn’t appeal to me at all, so I didn’t even entertain it. And surprisingly, no one asked me if I was staying home either - I guess they all assumed I’d be a working mom too.

I spent my 12 weeks of maternity leave (fully paid, btw!) completely infatuated with my daughter, but I found myself bored around week 10 or so. Josephine was a really chill baby, and fell into an eat-play-sleep routine that left me with a lot of time on my hands. I was itching to get back to work, to adult conversations and an existence that didn’t revolve around my child. I was able to transition back to work on an abbreviated schedule, yet it still took time to just adjust to a different world that now involved daycare pickup and pumping sessions twice a day. I had moments of missing my baby girl, but I so loved the joy I felt when I picked her up, and her smile when she recognized her mama’s face.

I’m very lucky to have the privilege to be a working mom, and I wouldn’t be so successful at it without the abundance of support I receive. The company I work for is very supportive of working parents, with great policies and amenities. Changing managers has also helped a ton - I now report to a fellow working mom and her flexibility is invaluable. I also have a husband who is extremely hands on and an equitable coparent. And our daycare is the most essential part of our life, because I couldn’t be the working mom I am without knowing my daughter was in a nurturing educational environment. Josephine has gone to the same Montessori daycare for her entire life, and the teaching staff is beyond phenomenal and devoted to the children in their care. Its a little out of the way from our home now that we’ve moved, but it’s worth the drive to keep her in a nurturing environment with the friends and teachers she loves.

Being a working mom is by no means easy but I would not trade this life for anything. And one day I hope my daughter will look at me the same way I looked at my mother - in awe that she did so much and accomplished so many things in addition to raising children.

Things I Read This Week:

A New Diet Study Confirms Your Worst Suspicions About Ultra-Processed Foods (Gizmodo)

7 Ways Fear Is Holding You Back (And How To Overcome It) (Girlboss)

Ava DuVernay’s Fight to Tell the True Story of the Central Park Five (Vanity Fair)

Christians Are Upset That Incels Are Co-opting Celibacy (MEL Magazine)

These Office Etiquette Rules Will Help You Crush It At Your First Job (Girlboss)

RIP Dressbarn, The Worst Named Clothing Store (Jezebel)

The Cost of Being Disabled (Design*Sponge)

my coworker wants the company to pay for a week-long sex romp with his fired girlfriend (Ask A Manager)

How the Instagram Era Changed Boudoir Photography (MEL Magazine)

Beyond the Hype of Lab-Grown Diamonds (Deadspin)

Hospitals Are Performing Episiotomies Way Too Often, Despite Decades of Warnings (Jezebel)

You Don’t Need to Meet Every Qualification to Apply for a Job (Harvard Business Review)

Another Twitter Thread on Abortion (Design Mom)

End the Plague of Secret Parenting (The Atlantic)

Be Upfront About Your Parenting Responsibilities in the Workplace (Lifehacker)

Amazon Goes Full Black Mirror by Turning Grueling Warehouse Work Into a Video Game (Gizmodo)

“I Flew Too Close to the Sun. No Question. Icarus”: Inside the Epic Fall of Michael Avenatti (Vanity Fair)

Reddit Asks the Question: 'Which Propaganda Effort Was So Successful People Still Believe It Today?' (Pajiba)

Separated by Design: How Some of America’s Richest Towns Fight Affordable Housing (ProPublica)

Other Stuff:

Need help with your resume? Book a Resume Review with me!

Last year I got a pair of Yummie Rachel high-waisted leggings on the recommendation of a blogger, and they quickly became my fave pair of leggings. I just got two new pairs and they are an absolute dream to wear.

How did you feel about the Game of Thrones finale? It ended the way I expected it to, so I can’t complain. Overall I wish the final season had gone differently but this Wired piece breaks down how the show evolved, and why this season has been so difficult for people. We got an end to the story, maybe not the end we wanted, but it’s nice to have some finality.

Also Pose is on Netflix now, so if you didn’t watch it before, you definitely need to watch it now. And Billy Porter is a got damn LEGEND and a national treasure.

Enjoy your holiday weekend and make sure you take a moment to acknowledge the sacrifice made by fallen soldiers this Memorial Day!

Let's Start Treating Men Like The Adults They Are, Shall We?

 
Photo by  Alexandro David  from  Pexels

Photo by Alexandro David from Pexels

 

I have a love-hate relationship with Facebook Mommy groups. On one hand, they’ve been a wealth of information and support for me as a first time mom, and a safe space to ask questions. But on the other hand, man are they a cesspool of dysfunction! But what actually bothers me the most is the posts I see almost every day, from different moms but with the same refrain - some version of “how do I get my husband/boyfriend/partner to do more to help me?”

We Have A Problem In Our Homes

Emotional labor, equity in child rearing and household management, career progression for working moms - all topics that have been discussed ad nauseam. I grew up being told that feminism would one day lead to equity between the sexes, that we’d be able to work like men and have our families at home and everything would work out just fine. Instead we now have to work ourselves to the bone at soul-sucking jobs, and then go home and do all the work to maintain our households and tend to our children. We’re damned if we sacrifice our careers to stay at home with our kids, and we’re damned if we put our kids in daycare so we can work.

Meanwhile, what are the men doing? Apparently they just getting on our damn nerves and being lazy.

Each time I read a post from a burned out mom on Facebook, or scroll through a never-ending list of depressing comments on an article, I’m filled with an emotion that can best summed up a combination of rage and pity. I’m filled with anger for all the women who are stuck with aint shit partners who do nothing to help maintain the households or parent the children they helped create. But I also feel some pity for this women too, because the answer (to me at least) is so simple and yet to eludes so many of them.

So What’s The Answer?

We see it all the time, the tired tropes of the bumbling dads who can’t figure out how to dress their kids without calling their wife. We overhear stories from men who brag about purposely putting on diapers wrong, or bringing back the wrong groceries, so they won’t be saddled with the chore again. We also the moms who are never without their children because they fear their partners can’t handle the children alone.

The answer is not to beg or nag or threaten your partner for help with the kids and around the house. We - as partners, as mothers, as members of our society - must demand that men act like adults and then hold them to it. But that means that we also must allow the men in our lives to parent in their own way, without our micromanagement or supervision.

The vast majority of men are more than capable of acting like adults, and taking care of themselves and others, both most of them find it easier to pretend to be clueless so they can be lazy. Instead of challenging them to be and do better, most women find it easier to just do what needs to be done themselves, but all that does is reinforce the idea that most men in heterosexual relationships don’t have to do anything, and doing slightly more than the bare minimum wins them the title of SuperDad.

We - the collective we - need to demand and expect the men in our lives to do more and be active participants in our homes.

Holding our partners accountable means that we learn the value of letting go of how things are done, and detach ourselves from doing some things entirely. It’s not responsibility to remember that your husband needs to buy his mother a birthday present. Leave that work up to him! If it doesn’t get done, his mom can take that up with him. Your kid might go to school in pajama pants, a tutu and rainboots - if they are clean and (relatively) dressed for the elements, don’t stress it. Yes, some things absolutely must get done, like feeding the kids and making sure the bills are paid, but I’d wager there’s a lot of things that we as women do because we feel like we’re supposed to do them, not because we actually care. And in that regard, we should be more like the men in our lives, and ditch those activities that aren’t serving us in the long run.

What This Looks Like In Practice

I’ve written before about my hesitancy to become a mother, and my greatest fear was that I’d end up a “married single mother”, doing all the work while my husband lounged on the couch with a beer. But before we even got married, my husband showed me that he truly believed in the equitable arrangement I envisioned. Will doesn’t believe in “emotional labor” as a thing, because it’s something he’s never asked of me. We both manage our own relationships with our families, and thus he’s responsible for remembering his mom’s birthday, or booking our trips to see his family. He manages his own appointments, pays his individual bills on his own, and communicates with me about our household needs. We use tools like a joint Gmail account and calendar to make sure we’re both in the know on things happening, and we have regular check-in meetings to align on our family and individual priorities.

Along with owning his own shit, I always expected him to do as much of the stuff he was able to do, but to his credit, he jumped in enthusiastically. We wound up combo feeding our daughter, so while I nursed and pumped, he was in charge of making formula bottles, and cleaning the dirty bottles. He’s a night owl, and he willingly took the middle of the night feedings so that I could sleep. He changed diapers, helped with baths, and rocked her for hours. Now that we’re in the toddler phase, we each take a weekend morning to get up early with Phi, so that the other can sleep in a bit (as much as you can with a toddler). He’s encouraged me to stay connected with my community of friends, and encouraged me to take some trips without him and the baby, including a week long girls’ trip to Greece. In the 2+ years of our daughter’s life, we’ve settled into a pretty equal division of labor in our home, both with childcare and household tasks, and I’d say we’re both pretty happy with how things have shaken out. That doesn’t mean that it’s perfect though - we’ve both had to initiate the “I need you to do more to help me” talks with each other; but thankfully, we’ve both been apologetic and receptive to the feedback to each other. We care about being good partners to each other, and a good example to our daughter, and so we do the work to make sure we both have what we need.

While my husband is pretty awesome (I mean, if he wasn’t, why did I marry him?) but he’s not some type of unicorn. He’s just like any other guy and he has the same quirks and annoyances as any other man. The difference is that I clearly communicated to him what was and wasn’t acceptable, and he gives a damn about our family so he does the work that needs to be done. I also have learned to detach from ownership and allow him to parent his own way, with his own relationship with his daughter. He truly can do everything I can do for her, including her hair (which is a thing, trust me!). He’s an adult, so I don’t need to manage how he parents our daughter and dictate every little thing - as long as she clothed and fed and happy, everybody is good.

How’s the division of labor in your home? What do you think keeps more men from being equal partners? Sound off in the comments!

Facebook Mama Groups Vex My Soul...But I Keep Reading Them Anyway

I've had Facebook since the early days - 2004 to be precise - but for years I spent most of my time on Twitter. That all changed when I got pregnant, as I started to join FB groups for pregnancy, breastfeeding and motherhood. After I had #BabyPi, and I spent hours nursing my little human, I started spending a lot of time on FB, reading and posting in mommy groups. Sometimes I was looking for answers, like why my baby hadn't pooped in 5 days (seriously, the stuff you worry about as a new mama is insane, but that's a post for a different day). Most of the time though, I'm just reading and scrolling, posting when the mood strikes me. 

I have this love-hate relationship with most of the groups I've joined. I initially joined to gain information, and I find them to be valuable resources of information. But they also drive me nuts with a level of insanity I've never seen before. Why do these groups drive me crazy? 

THE SAME QUESTIONS ARE REPEATED OVER AND OVER - This is by far the biggest pet peeve I have with FB mommy groups. It's like these women have never heard of a search function! In my breastfeeding group, everyday there's a new post asking if you can drink alcohol or coffee, or how to boost supply, or how to fix a latch. I get it - mamas need help. I was the same way when Phi first came home. But I (wisely) searched the group before I asked questions, because I was pretty sure my question had already been asked and answered. Why other moms I don't do this, I will never understand, but I wish they would start. 

THEY GET AN ATTITUDE WHEN THEY DON'T LIKE THE ANSWERS THEY RECEIVE - ever dealt with a kid who asked for something, and then pouted when the answer was "no"? I see that behavior from grown ass women every single day. I don't understand the logic behind asking for advice, and then getting mad when you don't like the advice you receive, but whatevs. If you have all the answers, why are you asking a group of strangers?

THEY LOVE TO TRY TO ONE-UP EACH OTHER - I absolutely detest the posts that are solely to brag on their baby. Listen, I think my kid is a genius, and she probably is given that I'm a chemist/former rocket scientist & her dad is a mathematician. However I do not post daily about how my kid was rolling over at 6 weeks old or walking to school by herself at nine months. The other day a mom made a post about how her 3 month old is sitting up unassisted and all I could do was roll my eyes. Great for you lady, but 1-I don't believe you and 2-who cares? 

VACCINE DISCUSSIONS ARE ALWAYS A HOT MESS - nothing gets me riled up like the topic of vaccines. They ALWAYS dissolve into an argument between sane people who believe in vaccines and the nutjobs who still believe in fake science. As a scientist, I feel strongly that vaccine save lives. My kid is getting her vaccines on schedule. We plan to keep her away from kids who are intentionally not vaccinated. We live in an area that's being dealing with a measles outbreak for months and it drives me nuts that children are suffering from measles for no good reason. To me, not vaccinating is child abuse and I have little tolerance for it. I recognize that not every child can be vaccinated but I have no patience or sympathy for people who intentionally do not vaccinate their kid because they believe in junk science. Also, I'm really tired of people trying to justify their anti-vaccine stance by posting links to random websites - THAT'S NOT RESEARCH! 

ALL THE ARGUMENTS AND JUDGMENTAL COMMENTS - No matter how innocuous the topic, there's the potential that it will dissolve into an argument, complete with name-calling and judgments of parenting skill. Some particularly bad threads end with mamas leaving the group - always after making a post stating that the group is full of drama so they're leaving - and/or deleting their posts. I have snarky thoughts about posts I see about 8000 times a day, but I keep them to myself or share them with Twitter, cause that's just polite (ha!).

Despite the downsides to Facebook mama groups, I still find them valuable - I've learned a lot and I try to pass on the knowledge and experiences that I've had. Above all else, they are extremely entertaining and always guaranteed to give me a good laugh when I need it. And when I've needed support or a question answered, I've found mama groups to be helpful in that regard. Now if we only we could get these broads to start using the search feature....