Published April 18, 2012
Dear Mothers (yes, all of you) –
Oh please, oh please, give yourselves and each other a break.
Consider this an early Mother’s Day present. I have no stake here except to be an objective outsider who sees much. I’m not a parent and never wanted to be, so I speak out of concern for the many mothers I love and even the ones I don’t know personally but whose angst is palpable.
It’s all about this: Finding a way to peace about your decisions regarding your life as a parent.
Because clearly if one comment by Hilary Rosen – a comment clearly made in the context of a conversation on CNN’s Anderson 360 about PAID work – can set off a firestorm of wrath where you’re fighting each other about your decisions (again), there is a reason to go within and examine them. When we feel defensive about anything, it is a sign to stop and look at the situation. I tell this to my life coaching clients all the time and we work on where their sensitivity might be originating. Get in there and understand why a quip angers you or hurts your feelings.
I practice what I preach here, albeit in a different context. In a dialogue with a friend recently, I shared that I enjoy life as an independent contractor most of the time but every so often I find myself wondering if I made the right choice. The hours can be erratic, as is the money flow. But there is great freedom, too, and it works with my body rhythms. Overwhelmingly, my thoughts bring me back to yes, this is indeed the way of life that is best for me. However, if and when that changes, I will address it and alter my course.
So must mothers. A life path you chose two years ago might not necessarily be working now. Re-evaluate it thoughtfully. This applies to everyone, really, but I am especially thinking about mothers because of what I’ve been hearing and reading in the wake of the political dustup created to put women in a twist last week. It worked like a charm.
Almost every day I delight in how mothers are their own best support system for each other, but also feel dismayed that they are the most vicious in cutting each other’s choices down. Why must your next door neighbor Sally approve of your decision to work part-time while raising your children? Why does that matter to you? And, if you’re in the judgmental Sally category, what is it about your choice that bothers you so much you’re projecting your uncertainty on to others in a way designed to hurt?
We as women so easily get into “please validate me” mode, don’t we? Goodness, it’s exhausting.
For me, this last week of criticizing each other’s choices isn’t about race or class or geography or who has a car elevator. It’s not about political persuasion. It’s about making a decision for yourself and your child and then knowing that at times you’ll feel great about it and at other times you’ll feel shaky and question yourself. Find peace in that reality.
No one with a brain argues that parenting is hard. Those who devalue it are either ignorant or have another agenda. Why get in there and stage a showdown with folks who have those mindsets?
What we need in this crazy economic climate is acceptance of ourselves and others, confidence that we’ll make good decisions and empathy for others whose choices might be dictated by forces outside of their control. And we need to chill out on the judging. It’s not sport to spend an hour on the phone dissing one of the mothers in your play group for breast feeding or not breast feeding or putting her child in a school you don’t like or serving her kid McNuggets.
Especially when you could be spending that time with your child or taking a much-needed tea break or creating an agenda for your next board meeting. Whatever flips your switch. Just own it. Even better, own it with a vengeance. Put stakes down and claim the lifestyle you’ve created.
Life will be so much richer.
Nancy Colasurdo is a practicing life coach and freelance writer. Her Web site is www.nancola.com and you can follow her on Twitter @nancola. Please direct all questions/comments to FOXGamePlan@gmail.com.