My husband calls it a pissing contest.
That’s what seems to be going on in the media and on social networking sites, as mothers (and some politicians) weigh in on Really Important Stuff, like who works harder, stay-at-home moms or moms who work outside the home.
Moms like to get in pissing contests, truthfully. We like to compare everything from our kids’ sleep patterns, what school we send them to, to what diapers we use (“I can’t believe anyone still uses Luvs.” “Oh my God, I don’t understand how anyone could use disposable diapers.” “Well my diaper material is completely organic, sewn with cotton fibers from a small local farmer.” “Can you believe those hippies who use cloth diapers?!”)
All of us do it. I know I do, even when I try to say I abhor it.
My biggest downfall is comparing the workload of being a mom based on the number of kids the mom has. Sometimes I catch myself looking down my nose at any mom with less than three kids, and looking with head-shaking reverential awe at moms with more than three kids. There’s nothing special about the number three, other than that’s the number of kids I happen to have. Moms with fewer have no idea how easy they have it (Oh my gosh, they still have an arm per kid!) and moms with more have some sort of superhuman capacity for sacrifice (I honestly think I would go insane if one more freaking kid came into my house permanently!), or so my thinking goes.
It’s not my better nature, that’s for sure.
The reality is that there are lots of factors that determine how hard it is to be a mom, and none of us (or almost none of us, if you prefer) has it easy. We do an often gross and mundane-seeming job, without any slaps on the back or performance reviews or promotions. It’s no wonder, when we live in a society that likes to rank everything from salaries to the top 100 episodes of our favorite TV show, we develop our own internal mommy ratings system to keep score.
It’s just that we don’t really need to.
The bigger picture is that most of us (all of us, if you prefer) want the same basic things when we think about our kids. We want them to be safe. We want them to have adequate food and water and clothes. We want them to go to safe, good schools where they learn to be whatever they want. We want them to get well when they’re sick. We want them to have a life at least as good as the one we do. And most of us want these things for all kids, not just our own.
Life is hard right now for a lot of us, especially women and children. We need to stick together and remember what’s most important, because united, the voice of mothers is strong, and wields power. Divided over petty and arbitrary rankings, we lose a lot of our strength.
Enough with the pissing contests.