Not that long ago, I came across an article written by a mom. This article was published in well-known blog, and I’m sure it was read by thousands of women across the world. Someone I know personally gave it a “thumbs up,” on social media. So, naturally, I was curious to see what this mom had to say. Unfortunately, I was sadly disappointed. This article was about the custom of having children write “thank you cards” for receiving a gift as an asinine custom. It also discussed “goody bags” for a birthday party as being a silly notion. Obviously, there were opposing views and comments related to the article. What disappointed me about this article was not what the writer was stating in it. I believe she is allowed to feel upset about these social customs, and I don’t blame her for maybe feeling overwhelmed with motherhood. I wasn’t disappointed by all of the mothers who agreed that “thank you cards” are stupid or a waste of time. What disappointed me was the “Mom Hate.”
Have you noticed it at all? Have you experienced it while raising your kids or watched it on the television? Mom Hate is an all too real of a thing. Frequently, I see that, instead of moms banning together and being supportive with one another, too many of us dish out Mom Hate instead. But what is “Mom Hate?”
“Mom Hate” is my own term, and I like to define it as criticizing another mother’s character (i.e. who she is as a mother) rather than criticizing behavior. This critique may be directed to a specific person, or it could be a broad statement that makes unfair judgments about a group of mothers. For example, in this article I’m referring too, this mom didn’t just talk about these social expectations as a silly custom. She had to engage in Mom Hate to make her point, stating that these customs were put together by “overachieving mothers.” In the article, she creates an “us vs them” set up, where it’s “overachieving moms” vs “ordinary moms.” Why? What’s the purpose of making other moms feel bad for something they believe in?
Let’s say I believe that reading to your child before bed is a stupid custom. I can go about expressing this idea in two ways, one that involves Mom Hate and one that doesn’t.
Argument # 1 “Reading to your kids before bed is stupid. Let’s think about it… what does it really do for them other than delay bed time, develop a sleep association that requires you for them to sleep, and possibly give them nightmares! I mean, have you thought about some of these stories!?! You’ve got witches, monsters, and villains of all sorts!”
Argument # 2 “Reading to your kids before bed is stupid. Let’s think about it… You spend all day trying to get the house clean, homework done, dinner made, baths, teeth brushed, etc… and now you have to read a story? Who the hell came up with that idea!?! Moms who do this are just overachievers who have nothing better to do and make the rest of us over-worked moms look bad!”
Can you see it??? My first argument is about the custom and behavior itself, and it completely avoids bashing moms who can and/or want to engage in this custom. The second example engages in Mom Hate, and focuses on the character of people (i.e. they are “overachievers”) who engage in this custom and less on the behavior itself (i.e. reading before bed is silly because….)!
For some reason, Motherhood, and Parenting in general, evokes a very passionate side of most people, leading to much contention and fury between opposing sides. Today, we struggle to hear someone disagree with our method of doing something, taking it personally instead of just seeing it as an opposing opinion. But what is that really about?
Over the years of working with women in therapy, I would frequently have moms come in, frustrated with the expectations that they felt had been placed upon them. They would spend most of the hour venting about an issue, while I sat quietly, listening. Eventually, they’d run out of things to say, and would look at me, expecting something. When I didn’t say anything, they usually ended up saying something like, “What do you think?” My response, was usually something like, “Well, I can see that this situation has really upset you, but I can’t help but wonder ‘why?’”
Taking my example of reading to your child before bed, let’s come to understand this question I pose a little better. When we engage in Mom Hate, why do we do it? Is it really because I think reading to my child before bed is stupid? It could be, but if that were the case, I would most likely engage in Argument #1. Or is it possible that I feel overwhelmed, tired, worthless, or maybe “not good enough”? In Argument # 2, when I state “the rest of us over-worked moms,” I’m really stating I’m over-worked. I feel tired, and I feel like I am less-than other moms because I am struggling with finding balance.
When we engage in Mom Hate, we are really not hating on other moms, we are actually expressing the hate we most likely feel about ourselves. But that pain can be too great to bear, and it takes a very courageous and insightful person to be able to own that reality. When we engage in any form of hate, we are usually expressing “fear” which is the cornerstone to all forms of prejudice. And hate that stems from “fear” is typically based in a sense of “not being good enough,” or feeling as though we can’t measure up. Star Wars got it 100% right when Yoda stated, “Fear is the path to the Dark Side. Fear leads to anger, angers leads to hate, and hate leads to suffering.” (Who knew Yoda was a therapist?!?)
I could go on with this topic. Mom Hate is just a small example of the larger prejudices and hatred that is going around in our world right now. I already know this article is going to have some mixed reviews, with some appreciating the point I’m trying to make across, and others who will engage in the Mom Hate because this article pushes some buttons for them, triggering that fear. That’s ok…. What I want to make sure you leave with, regardless of whether you liked or hated this article, is that we need to face our fears, working to improve ourselves with each day. In taking time to do this, we slowly calm the hate, and engage in our community in a more loving and respectful way. Not only does this then make us happier, our community more positively rich, but it helps us to model for our children a world where the hate can be put to rest for good. I encourage all moms to put aside the Mom Hate, and instead, respect each other and support each other for a more loving tomorrow.