Since becoming a parent I have noticed a distinct lack of generosity amongst the parenting communities. I am not in any way writing here of material or financial generosity. I have found other parents to be exceptionally generous with material belongings. I guess I’m speaking about a lack of spiritual generosity.
During one of my wee hour awakenings I found myself reading articles about the pitfalls to avoid when returning to work as a new Mum. One article offered several sensible tips on ways to make the transition from at home Mum to working Mum, whether it be full time or part time. At the end of the article it had a link to read other people’s stories of their experiences going back to work. Normally I steer clear of commenting on the web. It tends to denigrate very quickly from helpful, thoughtful answers to nasty trolling. But hey, it was 4am and I had all the time in the world to not sleep and read other people’s opinions. Actually, I naively thought that maybe these other Mums would have something interesting to share. Maybe they’d all say “It’s okay, child care gets better! Your baby will love it in the end! She’ll stop crying, really she will”.
They didn’t. The entire first page was filled with SAHMs (I learnt that means ‘Stay At Home Mums’) and WOHMs (‘Working Out of the Home Mums’…I might have made this one up) bitching at each other about how much easier the other had it and how sick they were of being told that they’re lazy (SAHM) or selfish (WOHM). Then, of course, it went further into name calling and direct attacks. All I could think was…well…who cares?! I think that I am doing a flawed job at teaching and parenting, but I still think I’m awesome. It’s hard to be a parent and it’s hard to be a teacher. It’s also exceptionally rewarding being a parent and exceptionally rewarding being a teacher. I’m a very lucky person to be able to take on both of those roles. Sometimes I’d love to be at home all day with Little Fearse. Sometimes I think it would be easier to have more time in the classroom.
All those other Mums who are working more than me? They are also awesome. All those other Mums who are working less than me? Also awesome. Mums who stay at home with their kids? Awesome.
(And hey, I’m not saying Dads are not awesome, too. It’s just that I’m a Mum and I see this amongst Mums. )
Years ago when I was complaining about a friend or colleague to my brother Josh he sagely replied, “Well, it takes all types to make the world work”. I think about that all the time and it makes me really grateful (in the long run) when I meet people with different opinions than me. Maybe not different morals or values, but I think that’s a different thing . I know lots of people who parent differently to me and I find it interests me more than anything. I think there is very little value in judging other’s choices. I wish Mum’s could chill out and feel good about themselves and their own choices. I wish they were all able to say “I’m awesome and so are you”.
I think that this is one way my life can become simpler – to feel awesome about who I am and the choices I make as a parent. And to show other Mums that I think they are awesome, too. There are so many different ways that a person can parent with love. However you do it, go you. Be kind to yourself and be kind to all those other Mums.
PS While I have no intention of sounding preachy, I know this might come across that way. Really what I’m talking about is comparison and I think Kathy Gottberg says it superbly in Comparison – A Speed Bump On the Road To Happiness & Simple Living.