When I entered the wonderful world of motherhood I was ecstatic. It seemed as if I had finally found my niche, what I was good at, where I belonged. All my life it seemed, I had been searching for that one thing that I could claim as my greatest strength; mommy-hood was what I settled on.
I was beyond thrilled to begin my new life as a mother equipped with the solidarity of my shiny new mommy friends. We would laugh, cry, share stories and wisdom, and set up “play dates” for the simple joy of adult company and some coffee. It was a beautiful opportunity. But my rose colored glasses shielded me from a harsh reality.
Such a harmless looking word. In grade school we are taught that being competitive is a strength, an asset, something that will take you places. If you’re like me, you embraced that idea to the fullest. I am uber competitive at pretty much anything. My husband laughs at me and shakes his head sometimes because he knows that I won’t back down from something when I feel like I should be able to master it and do it well. Which honestly has gotten me into quite a bit of trouble in the past.
You see dear friends, competition is healthy and good, in the right context. But taken out of certain situations and placed in other, less suitable ones (like motherhood) competition is dangerous, divisive, and unhealthy. It would seem that most mothers know that, at face value at least. We go to mommy groups or small groups or La Leche leagues in order to band together and support each other on our common ground. We call to make sure the other mommy’s we know are doing okay, that they don’t need our help, or if they do to let them know we are on our way.
At first glance, us mommy’s seem to have this partnership game down pat. But first impressions, as I’ve been learning, can be deceiving. Behind the strong wall of mommy’s standing hand in hand with babies on their hips there is a war raging and women are being taken out repeatedly by friendly fire.
If you don’t believe me, or you think I’m being cynical just look at your Pinterest feeds or your Facebook page. You’ll see proof of what I’m saying right there in black and white, or green, or pink, or whatever color the memes appear that day.
Case in point:
Wow, the Enemy has to be in stitches over how terrible yet terribly popular these things are. Just go to Google, type in mommy memes, and you’ll see what I mean. Some of them are so bad I can’t believe someone actually came up with them.
But the worst part is not how bad they are, or how popular they are, it’s why they are popular. It’s that they’re real. This really is what motherhood is like for most women. Snarky, condescending, hateful, passive aggressive, and competitive.
We don’t build each other up any more. No ma’am. We are too busy thinking of our next great comeback for when someone asks us why we stay at home, go to work, clean continuously, let our house stay messy, eat organic, eat fast food, love our mother in law’s, hate our mother in laws, and the list goes on and on. We let our bitterness build in our souls so much so that it becomes hard to have a simple conversation with another mother, or woman at all, without our defenses raising and our feelings getting hurt.
We all do it. We can’t deny it. Please don’t deny it. I know I am not the only one who has scrolled through social media and laughed aloud at some of these pictures, and then instantly felt guilty. Or gone over to another mommy’s house and left feeling thankful that mine didn’t look “that bad” or that my child wasn’t “that bad” or that I hadn’t let myself go “that much.” I know I am not the only one who has engaged in conversation with a friend or husband only to have it turn into a mother in law rant, or gossip fest with the sole purpose of making me feel better about myself.
I am ashamed to say I’ve done all these things and more. I have let Satan take advantage of me and manipulate me, and my own sinful nature rule me, so that what shines out of me is not the light and love of Christ but a resonating sense of defensiveness and competitiveness. I have on more than one occasion been unapologetic-ally unapproachable.
Why do we feel like this is a normal way of interacting with other women, mom’s, mother in laws? Why have we lost our ability to be vulnerable and real and raw? After all, we are all somewhere in the process of mommy hood, that all consuming, draining, exhausting job of mommy hood. We all know what it feels like to be at the end of our ropes, covered in vomit or boogers, longing for a hot shower, or simply the pleasure of peeing in peace. So why do we act like we are all the first women on earth to ever do this mommy thing? Like no woman can ever understand exactly what we go through? Like we are better than other women because of the way we choose to do this job? Like our mother in law’s just don’t understand or care about us, our friends really don’t know how hard it is, our sisters never fully feel like we do?
I don’t have the answers to these questions unfortunately. But I know who has the solution to them. God. God is the only one who can perfectly model grace and love. The only one who can stop the mommy wars and remove our competitive spirits from us. If we trust Him, we can link hands as friends and allies, instead of hurling hurtful words and passive aggressively questioning each others choices on Facebook.