Here’s a newsflash: the Mommy Wars are bullshit. There’s no competition. There’s no blue ribbon, golden cup or flower wreath at the end. The best any of us can hope for is that our children will survive childhood and still speak to us.
The truth is we’re all flying by the seat of our pants. Every last one of us. Any mother who claims otherwise is delusional at best, and a bald-faced liar at worst.
We each have full plates. Some of us are staring at a dinner-plate-sized life overflowing with responsibilities and duties, while others are struggling to balance a platter-sized plate overflowing with unimaginable strife. For every mom who researches other options for Little Johnny who was born allergic to her own milk, there’s at least one who’s lucky to get anything down her picky little cherub’s gullet. For every mother who spends all day playing with her kids to the detriment of the laundry and a thousand other chores, there’s at least one who wishes she could. For every mother crying over scraped knees and measles outbreaks, there’s at least one worrying about the cancer that just claimed her two-year-old’s eye, or worse, his life.
All mothering, no matter how mundane or heart-wrenching, is hard. The very essence of motherhood demands that we be made of stern stuff. You can’t be a wimp and be a mother. Moms march in the trenches, bathed in vomit and excrement, and they do it because they love the tiny people in their lives. They do it despite the thankless attitudes and the judgment of others.
There isn’t one mother who isn’t dead dog tired at the end of the day. Many of us have spent the prior hours wiping butts and noses, cooking, cleaning, cooking some more, cleaning some more, racing to and fro and back again, answering countless questions, and arguing over the fairness of chores only to have the cycle begin again for one fast go-round before bed. Some of us even do it with a fever or while we battle chemotherapy. That’s an average day. If we’re lucky. God forbid a holiday of even the most minor status should rear its ugly head, because that work list doesn’t include sleep or breaks, and, usually, guarantees at least one judgmental relative pointing out everything we missed or got wrong.
You see, moms fight battles every day. Some of them are small like forcing Tony to eat just one more bite of salad. Some of them are bigger than we can imagine, like picking the dress your precious girl will be buried in, or filling out that journal so they’ll know you loved them, because you won’t be around to tell them yourself.
The truth is we are Mommy Warriors, not engaged in Mommy Wars. Our battles are fought within ourselves each day. And at the end we lay our heads on our pillows and pray for strength. There is no room for judgment. There is only hope and the desire to do better tomorrow, if we have the luxury of a tomorrow.
So the next time you see me carrying my screaming kid like a football as we exit church in the middle of mass, don’t judge. You have no idea that we’ve been up since four with a kid having an asthma attack and a migraine that caused him to vomit. You don’t know that my mammogram came back funny and I’m worried I have breast cancer. You don’t know that my husband is home with our teen because he can’t be left alone, even to go to the bathroom, because he’s suicidal.
You don’t know what battles this Mommy Warrior is fighting.
And I don’t know yours.
What I do know is very simple: Each and every mommy is doing the very best she can. People who say otherwise aren’t inciting a Mommy War. They’re just assholes. And every mommy knows just how much attention we pay to what comes out of those.