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September 27, 2013

Don’t be a Hater: What I Should’ve Said.

Photo: micagoto

I posted a blog entry here recently, and it got crazy popular.

My personal blog readership skyrocketed. I’ve received amazing comments from people I’ve never met. It’s been lovely and heart-filling, an affirmation that I’m finally doing the thing I love, and other people actually like it, too. 

But there’s one thing I wish I’d done differently. There was a section in the article that goes as follows:

“Be a hater. And those moms who appear to have it all together? The size six supermoms who appear perky and well-rested? The ones who haul big designer diaper bags brimming with healthy snacks and water and sunscreen and extra outfits and hand sanitizer? It is okay to wish them small misfortunes, like fecal incontinence or eye herpes.”

A handful of readers took issue on this. They stated that while they liked the article, they were quite bothered by this paragraph.

This morning, I was in the middle of a perfectly nice day, and while driving to an appointment, I saw a woman standing at a bus stop, her middle finger extended to everyone who drove by. And I thought, well that is a super shitty thing right in the middle of a perfectly fine day.

I get it. For some, that paragraph was a big middle finger in the middle of a perfectly fine day.

While the section was meant to be funny, and was mostly an excuse to use ‘eye herpes’ in a sentence, a teeny tiny voice told me to leave that part out when I posted it on the elephant journal.

I didn’t listen.

But I’m listening now.

You know how sometimes you have an argument with someone, and afterwards, you think of all the stuff you wish you had said? And so you say it again, silently and smugly, in the privacy of your own brain?

Well, one of the reasons I love writing is I can do that. Right here. Right now.

This is what I wish I had said:

You moms who look fantastic? Who never forget sunscreen or diapers or healthy, attractively presented snacks? I compare myself to you. I don’t mean to, but I do. I know your lives aren’t perfect, either.

I’m insecure.

I was insecure before I had children, and becoming a parent makes the stakes feel so impossibly high. While adding immense meaning and love and sweet little round faces to my life, having children has also intensified my perfectionism and anxiety.

When I see you looking like you know what you’re doing, I see myself reflected back. And it feels like I’m staring into one of those cosmetic mirrors, the ones that make your skin look like the surface of the moon, bulging with craters and scars.

What I see is that most of the time, I have no idea if I’m doing anything right, because being a parent is the hardest, most subjective experience of my life, by, like, 200 percent.

I know you have problems, because you are human and being human is hard. Being a human parent is really, really hard. I’m sure you doubt yourself at times. But damned if you don’t look great while you’re doing it. Damned if you don’t look just the opposite of what I feel like inside.

As the comments reminded me, we need to stick together as moms. It’s hard enough already. We—I need to be less judgey. Softer and more supportive.

We need more love, not hate. Not even jokey hate.

Thank you for the reminder.

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Ed: Catherine Monkman

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