To the Moms Who No Longer Have Toddlers, But Still Remember How Hard it Is: Thank You.
A lot of ink has been spilled about the “Mommy Wars” and how mothering has become a competitive sport. I know this is a real problem, but thankfully, I’ve been immune to most of it. The moms in real life that I choose to share my life with have, for the most part, been kind, supportive and non-judgmental. The one exception to this, however, are certain moms who are years, and sometimes decades, ahead of me in the parenting journey.
I always try to be honest and vulnerable about my parenting experience. It’s no secret that I am finding the thick of the toddler and preschool years to be far more difficult and draining than I ever could have imagined. I grieve this reality every day; I wish it were different. But I do find that by talking about it, and writing about it, makes me feel less alone. However, there have been several instances where an older mom has shamed me for my parenting decisions or the behavior of my children.
Shame hurts. It erodes my confidence, and makes me feel small. It makes an already difficult season seem impossible. But, as Brené Brown says,
If we can share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can’t survive.
So, to the moms of older kids who do this for me, who respond to my struggles with empathy and understanding, thank you.
Thank you for coming to my defense when I was shamed by another mother online. This could have easily shredded my confidence caused me to spiral into anxiety and self-doubt, but instead, you lifted me up with encouragement and love.
Thank you for your honesty. For admitting that raising older kids and teenagers comes with its own set of (really hard) issues, but also acknowledging that toddlers are really hard too. Takeaway: it’s all hard.
Thank you for refraining from uttering the words, Just you wait or You think it’s hard now…
Thank you for reassuring me over and over again that there are aspects of parenting that really do get easier. You have no idea how hard I cling to this truth some days, when all I want to do is get in the car and just drive away.
Thank you for Liking and commenting on pictures of my kids online. They really are adorable, delightful, and hilarious, and I love that you think so too.
Thank you for not throwing my generation of parents under the proverbial bus by telling us we are raising spoiled, entitled kids and pointing out all our failures.
Thank you for not telling me to Enjoy every moment and You’re going to miss this. I CAN’T and I KNOW I WILL. But I’m in the weeds now, and sentiments like these aren’t helpful.
Moms of older kids, I see you. I see you navigating the world of school-age, teenagers and adult children. I see you struggling, but I also see you raising bright, thoughtful, and kind kids. Thank you for braving the uncharted waters of raising kids responsibly in the era of social media; I know I’ll be there soon enough and will be looking to you for advice. But most of all, thank you for your empathy, and for not forgetting that every child is different, no two families are the same, and that every stage of parenting is hard.