After a few years of writing on the internet, I'm starting to believe The Mommy Wars still exist because there are some women who just plain enjoy them. They might say otherwise, but that's only because it's socially unacceptable to say, "I really enjoy finding obscure reasons to pit myself against other women and remind myself that I come out on top." Case in point: blogger Whitney Fleming, whose recent post on Blogher - Why Do People Hate Good Moms? - laments her inner turmoil over all the many parents who hate her because she is "actually trying."
The post opens with an anecdote about a playdate where she made cookies and homemade Gak, and then the playdate child's mom came to pick her up and said, "Wow, you go all out for playdates. I just usually throw some goldfish at them." To me, that seems like a pretty innocuous comment, and something I would say because I'm sarcastic and I like to inject humor into things and I sometimes make self-deprecating remarks in an attempt to insta-bond with other moms. But, fuck me because that woman wasn't just making an innocent comment. That woman was on the attack! Says Whitney:
...apparently being a good mom is something I did to offend her. I felt shamed for doing something fun for my kids—and hers. Shame for even trying to be a good mom.
Whitney goes on to explain that she's met with contempt for all of the awesome things she does:
This happened to me a lot over the years. I have heard comments about volunteering too much at my kids' school, or hosting too nice of parties or making a Pinterest-inspired handmade soccer cookie (one time).
Despite my obvious disdain for this post, I have to admit I was sort of giving this blogger the benefit of the doubt up to this point. I mean, we do live in a pro-snark culture and often jokes are made at the expense of moms who are viewed as going over the top. I thought she was possibly being a bit sensitive, but I could sort of see how one might tire of being the butt of the joke. Then she hit me with this:
God forbid you are the mom who sends in the elaborate Valentine's Day box or a well put-together Bento lunch. It's like you're just giving other moms the finger. Because don't we have enough problems as parents then [sic] to hate on the moms that are actually trying? Because there isn't enough neglect, enough abuse, enough bullying of our children that we have to feel mad at women who actually want to be better parents, better people, better than who they were yesterday?
Oh, Lawd. Let me roll up my sleeves.
The obvious implication here is that the rest of us don't give a shit, and this is why people hate on the "good moms" Whitney is talking about: because we're all good moms. We're all trying to "be better parents, better people" than who we were yesterday." All of us. Even the moms who don't make elaborate Bento boxes and playdate mom back at the beginning throwing Goldfish crackers. We all want to be the best for our kids, and it is beyond obnoxious when someone implies otherwise, especially when it's based on something as shallow and stupid as crafts and baked goods.
You can say until you're blue in the face that you throw elaborate birthday parties just because you want to and it makes you happy and that's great, but if the underlying tone is that you're trying to be better and the rest of us are just a bunch of haters who aren't trying and don't care about being better parents and people? Give me a break. We can smell the smug from a mile away, Lady, and that is why people react to you the way they do. It has nothing to do with your soccer cookies.
Whitney tries to round it out at the end by throwing in a single sentence about how we're "all trying," but if you're comfortable writing that we're "mad at women who actually want to be better parents" you clearly don't believe we're all trying and you should spare us the half-hearted attempt at backpedaling. Yes, we are all trying and yes, we should be supportive of one another. If you really want start a movement of motherly support, you can start by not writing blog posts that label moms as good or bad based on superficial standards and then stressing that those you consider beneath you should just fucking applaud you already. Good grief.
(Image via Shutterstock)