I guess I better learn to accept that mommy shaming will run rampant no matter how many times we plead for it to stop. So I shouldn’t have been surprised when a random woman from who knows where decided to get on Facebook (because that’s where you go when you want to say terrible things about someone, but not to their face) to rant about how stay at home moms (SAHMs) need to stop complaining. She chose to get on our mamahood support page to share this little tidbit of unwanted personal opinion. Allow me to paraphrase her point:
“Stay at home moms complain so much and I’m sick of it. All of us working moms would kill to get to stay home with our kids. You don’t have it bad, so shut up. “
If I had feathers, they would be ruffled.
My first thought was to give a long, sassy response about how she should take her own advice. Instead, I took a deep breath and scrolled past, knowing someone else would try to set her in her place and the mom shaming would commence. But it did get me thinking about the source of her annoyance. Why do I, personally, complain so much?
In my three short years of holding “motherhood status,” I’ve been able to maintain many roles: I’ve been a working mother outside the home and taken my child to daycare, I’ve worked within the home, balancing my mothering duties with a paid position, another job allowed me to take my daughter with me on my delivery shifts, and I’ve been “just” a mom, with no extra income to supplement my husband’s. I feel like I’ve got at least a little perspective from both sides of this annoyed mother’s post. So why, rude Facebook lady, do SAHMs complain so much?
We all complain. I believe mothers have earned the right to complain and have moments of self-pity. Motherhood, however we approach it, is hard. And even though our little children may think we are superheroes who can do it all, anything as difficult as parenting deserves a few mommy meltdowns. Per day.
Maybe one reason why I complain so much about my kids is because I am with them almost 24/7. I know from experience that working mothers yearn to be there to catch every baby giggle and to see the very first steps. And it’s true that SAHMs get to see and treasure those moments because we are always there. BUT we are ALWAYS there. SAHMs deal with everything in between the sweet moments. We get the full force of every tantrum and we clean every meal thrown on the floor. We have to manage those meltdowns, not the babysitter, who then reports the hard stuff to you at pickup. We don’t take lunch breaks or go pee by ourselves. I tend to complain more on days that are physically and emotionally draining. I complain because sometimes, those hard moments outweigh the few good ones in the day. Of course I don’t take being home with my kids for granted, but some days it’s hard, and I’ve earned the right to complain a little. That’s no different than your difficult day at work that earned YOU the right to complain a little, too!
Another reason this SAHM complains so much is because it’s the only way I feel like I can relate to other moms at times. Staying home and not interacting with another adult for sometimes days on end (winter sick months, anyone?) seem to make me forget all social skills and I fall back into my shy ways. But when I know another mom is dealing with tantrums or picky eaters, we have common ground to begin a conversation on, and yes, that means common complaints.
I complain because I need to feel validated, as well. I need to know I’m not the worst mom ever for trying to feed my toddler a carrot (because from her reaction, I must be). I need to hear how other moms lost their cool or how they dealt with the serious issues like PPD. When I hear another mom admit her lack of sex drive or having not showered for the third day in a row, I feel like maybe I’m in good company.
I might complain so much because I can’t handle things as well as you can. Comparison is the thief of joy and it’s so easy to start comparing what I haven’t accomplished to what another mom seemingly thrives at. So when I complain about the kids driving me crazy, maybe that bothers you because you magically never get annoyed with your own offspring. Your patience might be double what I’m currently capable of practicing. If that’s the case—that’s sincerely awesome for you! But I apparently handle stress differently, so please don’t fault my character because my strength doesn’t match your own.
And finally, I complain because sometimes life isn’t all giggles and roses. There are days where I do feel like a perfect Pinterest mom with my educational activities for the toddler (outdoors!), my stimulating playtime with the baby, and dinner is hot and ready when the hubby gets home. These days have minimal tantrums, lots of kisses, and I didn’t get pooped on once! But these days are the exception, not the norm. Motherhood has a way of making you second-guess everything you do, even on the best of days. When you are home with the kids all day long, it’s easy to begin tearing yourself down. You feel guilty for yelling, even if it was only once. You feel guilty for not being more fun, even when you’re trying to be creative. You feel guilty for not teaching your kid the alphabet better, even if she just barely turned two. You second-guess every purchase and stress over money spent, even when you’re only buying the essentials with coupons. Every single mother, working or not, will face terrible days full of guilt and when that happens, it’s human nature to complain and need empathy.
I don’t believe SAHMs complain any more or less than mothers who work. We are all on different paths and are all trying our best to be a great parent. It’s just important to remember that we can never know what another woman is experiencing and what she can personally handle.
I know complaining is a nasty habit to have overall, so I’m working on catching myself when I become too negative and changing my attitude. In the mean time, if my, or any other mom’s, complaining bugs you that much—give her the benefit of the doubt and move on. Scroll past her annoying Facebook statuses, don’t ask her on play dates with your kids, respond to her complaining texts with an encouraging note to help uplift her day. But please, don’t take the time to bash her for just needing a little empathy. We all deserve a little shameless complaining. Even you.