It started with my firstborn child—my parenting skills questioned. Who else to blame when that sweet angelic face started spewing out spit. And in that Sylvester the cat sounding voice would yell, “Dut up dupid!” (Translation: Shut up stupid).
My single friends thought it was funny. My newer group of friends—other mommies—well, not so much. Little did I know that despite how annoying single friends could be (when claiming to know something about parenting), that my mommy friends would become a bigger enemy. Well, not literally. But underneath it all was a battle simmering.
My child was still in a diaper at 3 ½ years old because he refused to go poop on the potty. While other moms had their children fully trained by 2 years old. I put my child in a preschool program. While other moms had their children on a fast-track reading program—all from the comforts of their home.
But it wasn’t enough to say, “Hey, this is what our family is doing.” No, it became an unspoken rule that if it’s what you were doing, then every mom should be doing it.
By the time my second and third child came along, the mommy wars started to become weary. Yet I strived so hard to make sure I was doing this thing right. The only problem was that what constituted as right depended on who you asked.
Eventually I started to question what some people were saying I should do. But all that did was set me up for a fight. The bell had run in the ring and it was time to get it on. The battles varied…everything from who could keep a cleaner house with little ones under their feet to which mom oozes the most patience.
But you know when the gloves really came off? When I stopped homeschooling. My oldest was just about to enter 5th grade. I was tired. I was worn. I knew I couldn’t do it any longer. I wasn’t enjoying it and my children certainly weren’t enjoying it. And honestly, I kept doing it longer than I should have because I was afraid of the backlash. And let me tell you, it did come!
I’ve been in the ring many more times since. Fights about working outside the home or not. Fights about public school versus private school. Fights about which television shows are banned and which are allowed. What music my children should listen to—what to do when they don’t want to go to church—how to discipline—how to handle technology, dating, curfews, driving—and I could go on and on.
Now please don’t think I’ve had actual fights with other mommies. Our battles are so much more subtle than what you might see in a real boxing match. Many times they are unspoken. But there is always that question looming underneath—am I doing the right thing because it’s not what she is doing? Why does it seem like she always has it together? How did she wind up with such perfect children? What am I doing wrong?
If you haven’t been there, maybe you’ve been living under a rock. Because I honestly don’t know of one single mom who hasn’t had an outright boxing match with another mom over parenting choices—or at least questioned her own decisions, matching them against what others have done.
I retired my gloves a few years ago. Frankly, I stopped caring what others think. No, I can’t say that I never question what I’m doing. It sometimes creeps up. Guilt will still rear its ugly head. But it’s less often and with less intensity. And you know what? It feels freeing. I’d rather sit in the corner while my opponent dukes it out with the air. If you ask me, it’s kind of funny to watch.
© 2014, Stephanie Romero