I often joke with friends that when I walk into certain situations with other parents I hear the Sesame Street song, One of these things (is not like the others), playing in my head. It’s not that I’m feeling insecure, not worthy of being there or participating in the activity at hand, it’s just overwhelmingly clear to me that I’m there for a very different reason than some. Of course we are all there for the kids, to create or support opportunities for them, but the difference seems to be that so many, mommies especially, also place a lot of their own identity (and how they view the identity of others) in the kid related activity or role they are engaging in.
While it can be a subtle occurrence, whether I’m judging myself or feeling it from others, mommies are particularly adept at wielding opinions on one another’s situations and choices for “how” we each navigate things from our parenting, to just about any kid-related decision, even the way we lead an activity at school (and don’t get me started on Girl Scouts – that’s its own post!).
How did women get so good at feeling that they know best about how other women do things? Especially when it’s related to their kids – from delivery to schooling, feeding to healthcare. It’s troubling to me that rather than feeling like we are in a tribe of supporters and empowered mothers sharing with one another, we are often times pushing one another around with side glances and judge-filled conversations – for what purpose?
One of the biggest barriers and issues that I run into is the vast differences in parenting styles and how that affects various interactions. It’s been an interesting discovery as we venture into the school years and the resulting insta-community. It can be challenging to navigate at times. I often find myself not knowing what to do or how to handle things, especially when it directly affects my kids.
So what’s my focus? In some ways, I feel like I’m circling the wagons. Pulling things inward a bit, because I have one set of kids to parent, mine. And they are the most important beings in the world to me. I have to trust in the decisions my husband and I make when it comes to parenting them and acknowledge that we are human. We are not now and will not be perfect. My focus has to be on us and on doing everything we can to help my kids turn out to be good human beings – knowing that’s what we are all trying to do in our own ways, for our own kids.
Finding your peeps
Elementary school has been a trying time. Sometimes it feels like drinking through a fire hose. It’s also been challenging to discover and nurture adult friendships. When I do find like minded folks, or at least folks that allow other perspectives in, I can see myself desperately clinging to them. Which, I am sure they see as a little, well…weird. But hey, you gotta do what you gotta do! Those people are hard to find.
So, taking a breath. Acknowledging that everyone is doing their best. I’m doing my best. Maybe if I sort of set the example, others might catch on and cut others and themselves a break sometimes.
Well, time to move on and manage my brood into bed. Which I’m sure in some people’s book is way too late!