Motherhood. Mommy. Mom. Oftentimes the sound of those words alone conjures up visions of delicate behavior, loving actions and all that women are proverbially made of: sugar, spice and everything nice. Moms are typically known as these miraculous meshes of unconditional affection, nurturing and support.
That is unless they’re not.
I’ve always found it so strange how many moms can dote on their children with love and care, yet when it comes to other moms, they can be so catty and stand-offish. At least, that’s been my experience with mean-girl moms. What provokes anyone who has been fortunate enough to deliver a baby to be a mean mom? I seriously don’t get it. I have several guesses, but they end at that: simple conjecture.
I think part of it could be postpartum insecurity. When a woman has a baby, she goes through so many changes that can affect her emotions. Her body changes, her friends change, her emotions change and swing… It’s one of the biggest life transitions a woman can undergo. Everything pre-baby is different, and these changes are anything but easy. But difficult doesn’t have to mean negative. Pregnancy is beautiful, and motherhood is a singular, unparalleled experience. I know from birthing two nine-pound boys that it can make or break you, and moments often arise which exceed challenging. But if a mom isn’t secure enough to ask for help, it can feel like she is drowning.
In that emotional state, sometimes the first inclination is to use snarkiness and abrasive language and behavior with people who haven’t gone through that exact experience. We’ve all reverted to this coping mechanism and internal “you don’t know how hard my life is” complex at some point or another. But I think if women changed that conversation and connected with other women in those moments, chances are they would have more of an instant bond because of the shared struggle. Sadly, many women haven’t learned to do that yet.
Whatever the cause(s), I know that I’ve witnessed the phenomenon since my days of being pregnant with my first son. As a naturally curious being, I would ask questions all the time–and I had SOOOO many questions. They weren’t necessarily questions that I wanted to ask my OB/GYN, but I did feel comfortable asking another mom or a friend who was a mom. I just didn’t have many of those at the time. Since my mom had never been pregnant, I didn’t have the luxury of asking her about certain things that were going on with me. So I became very reliant on the social mom crowd and looked for advice from anyone knowledgeable.
A few moms that I turned to answered a couple of questions, but 18 times out of 20, the response I typically got was a screwfaced mom with an attitude! I didn’t understand it. I still don’t! It’s as if older moms see childbirth as a military game, and new moms have to earn their stripes or something without any help. New moms still have to have the babies; giving up the “cheat sheet” won’t make taking that test any different. It will, however, help new moms feel more at ease with processes that no one went over. That’s invaluable to a mom and could certainly help curb any potential anxiety she might have before having a child. Who wouldn’t want that for someone else?
It definitely would have helped me. My body was changing in ways that NO ONE talked about. Body parts changed colors. Hair started falling out. When those things happen and no one prepares you for it, you freak out! At least, I did. I was full of anxious questions: is this forever? Is this supposed to happen? Will it go away? Why did that happen? Does every mother go through this? I felt alone and uncertain about so many aspects of my pregnancy. I know now that those things do naturally happen, and that things do return back to normal. But that knowledge didn’t come through the imparted wisdom of many mean moms I reached out to during my first pregnancy.
So what do you do when you can’t find what you need? You make it yourself. That’s what I did when I met T. Lopez, a mother who shared my questions, my insecurities and my experiences with mean moms. T was one of the only friends I could go to with any and every question about motherhood. Together, we felt it important to create MOM LIFE YO for the moms who had gone or were going through what we did as new moms. We decided to be the voices that talked about all of the unknowns. As expected, as soon as we began talking about these things, so many others who had questions immediately chimed in.
I think it’s time to let go of the mean mom mindset. Motherhood isn’t a competition. We shouldn’t be separated into “Been There, Know That” moms and the “Left Out League”. There’s no need for hazing. It costs nothing to support other moms and to help them be more confident, knowledgeable moms-to-be. I encourage all moms to let their guards down and allow genuine bonding happen between each other. We moms are unlike any other connected group on the planet. If we could take all that we’ve collectively gained from having children and pour that into the next generation of moms, I’m so certain that the next crop of babies born will be healthier and much happier.
And so will their moms.