I used to think that mommy/women wars were pretty cut and dry and that people could recognize when they might be hurtful to another mom. I would think to myself, "Stop with the judging. Stop with the rude comments behind someone else's back. Stop with the rude comments about a kid's behavior. Stop saying how your kid would "never do that." Stop saying how a certain mom needs to get her priorities straight. STOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOP!"
But the past couple months I've had a lot of experiences that have made me look at mom wars in a different light, and what the source of mom wars are.
Today I went to a stake scripture study class. The lesson was wonderful! We talked about the importance of our physical bodies, the importance of eternal families, and I gained a lot of insights from others in the class that I hadn't thought of before. It was really uplifting and I'm so happy I went! When we were talking about our physical bodies, we talked about how important it is to appreciate our own bodies and how we shouldn't strive to be or have someone else's body. One sister made the comment "Yea, I look at all these fit moms and think 'would I rather spend 8 hours at the gym, or would I rather spend time with my kids?'" I don't think this woman's intent was to degrade moms who enjoy working out and staying in shape, but I kind of cringed at this comment because she made this "mommy wars" comment without even realizing it. Even a few days ago I had a mommy war thought without realizing I had until after the fact. I thought "Well, I didn't get dinner made because I took the kids to the park for a fun afternoon." Translation: "I'm such a good mom for taking my kids out for a fun afternoon while all those other moms are keeping their kids inside while they cook dinner." (Ridiculous, right? The NERVE of those moms to have dinner ready for their husbands!).
After much contemplation, I think I've figured out the source of these mommy wars comments.
Yea, my thought I had about taking the kids to the park was made from insecurity. My husband came home with a fried brain from a long day of work and I didn't have dinner ready and I felt horrible. So, to justify it, I thought "Well yea, I didn't make dinner like the rest of those moms, but I'm such a good mom because my kids had a fun afternoon." It's messed up, right?
My best friend in high school taught me an important lesson about friendship. She and I did practically everything together in high school. We did many of the same extra-curricular activities, tried to take as many classes together as possible, did homework together pretty often, and we had a sleepover almost every weekend. With all that we did together, it was sometimes easy for me to compare myself to her and think "she's faster at running than I am, she's smarter than me, etc." But I never got this feeling from her. She was always genuinely happy for any of my accomplishments, and didn't compare herself. I started trying to mimic this quality, and I realized something. The more genuine happiness I had for her, the better I felt about myself. And that was the secret to her ability to genuinely love those around her: She was secure with herself and who she was. When graduation time came, I watched her give a killer valedictorian speech and felt nothing but genuine love and happiness for that huge accomplishment of hers. I was able to feel that genuine love because she taught me to be confident with myself and secure with my gifts and abilities.
I felt secure about high school life, but then I moved on to college, and then got married, and then had kids, and have tried to balance my life, and with these new situations comes some insecurity. And when we get insecure about ourselves and wondering if we can handle it, we look at others and start to bring them down to make ourselves feel better. "Well, yea she has her hair and make up done, but I bet her kids watched TV the whole time." "Well, she cooked an awesome dinner, but I bet she didn't clean the rest of her house." "Well, she's breastfeeding her baby, but I've lost all the baby weight." "Well, she stays at home, but I bring in some extra income for our family."
When we are secure with ourselves, we can instead say "Wow! She looks really cute today!" "That dinner looks delicious--she's a great cook!" "Breastfeeding can be really hard--good for her!" "Staying at home with kids can be exhausting--I'm impressed with her!" "Being a working mom requires so much balance and energy--she's amazing!"
So moms (and women), I'm calling a cease fire. On ourselves.
Try this activity for the next week and see how you feel: You are only allowed to think positive things about yourself. This is cognitive behavioral therapy. Essentially this is changing our thoughts in order to change our words and our actions. How you think about something is going to be how you eventually vocalize and feel about something. It's going to be really hard. Trust me. The past few weeks, I've worn yoga pants or sweat pants every day, if I must go out of the house I put on a sports-bra and a t-shirt, I have only done my hair and makeup on Sundays (and that's only because church starts at 1 p.m.--I'm totally hosed when it switches to 9 a.m. in January), and dinner has rarely been made when Grant gets home (I'm slowly getting my feet under me with that). It has been so easy for me to look in the mirror before walking out the door with the kids and think "Ah! You look like a mess!" Or when Grant wants through the door the first thing I'm doing is apologizing for the house being a mess and dinner not being made.
Nope. Not this week. This week, you are only allowed to think positive thoughts about yourself. Think about how much you're able to get done around the house. Think about what an awesome workout you just did. Think about the killer dinner you just made. Think about how much you rocked your job today. And just a warning: if you find yourself starting a compliment about yourself by bringing someone else down, it won't work.
You'll find that as you feel more secure and better about yourself, you'll see other moms/women in a different, much more flattering light.
Stopping the mom wars begins with stopping our own insecurities.
So ladies, CEASE FIRE!...on yourselves. (while I go make dinner...)