I am beyond lucky to have and know some amazing mothers in my life. From my own mother to a best friend who had her daughter three months before I had my son to mothers I have met at work; a group of moms who just "get you" can be nothing short of life-saving. I also see mothers at the grocery store or in the park and, even with the moms I know and love, I find myself thinking the things every mom thinks about other moms, but doesn't say out loud; things that I sometimes feel guilty for and sometimes feel ridiculous for and always feel sheepish about because, I mean, I'm an adult. I should be able to just open my mouth and speak my mind but human interactions are weird and, well, so are the thoughts in my head (sometimes).
Some of these thoughts are unwarranted, and stem from my own insecurities as a new mom who is still trying to figure out parenthood. Some of these thoughts are secret wishes, like me hoping that I could be friends with this seemingly super-cool mom who has everything on lock and can teach me her ways so I don't feel like such a bumbling mess. Some of these thoughts are questions, usually concerning a specific parenting choice that I may not make, but seems to be working out for that mother so, you know, maybe it will work out for me. All of these thoughts, I think, are normal, and perhaps if we were all a little more open and honest about what we thought about mothers (and why we think those things) "mommy wars" wouldn't be a thing and we would all realize that, honestly, we're not alone in parenting. We're all just walking around wondering what in the hell we're doing and how other mothers are doing it, too.
So, with that in mind and in the name of true transparency, I'm letting you all into my strange brain and letting you know what I think about other mothers.
"How Is She Doing Everything?"
There are so many mothers who hide the hot mess that is motherhood like absolute bosses. I see so many of these women and silently ask myself, "How in the hell is she doing all of these damn things and her hair is perfect and she looks well-rested and is actually, like, happy?" I know, rationally, that she is probably just as exhausted as I am, but still, when you see a mother doing seemingly everything and you're open about your struggle to simply take a shower every day, you can start to feel like you're failing or, at the very least, missing a mom-gene or something.
"I Bet She Doesn't Get Any Sleep"
I honestly think is a pretty valid assumption. I don't think there is a parent on the planet that isn't at least a little bit exhausted. Yes, even Chrissy Teigen.
"I Want To Be Her Friend..."
I see so many mothers online or at the grocery store or in my office at work or at the park and instantly think, "Oh my god I have to be her friend. Like, how can I convince her that I'm super cool and she should be my friend, too?" Sometimes, you just met someone and know they're part of your tribe (especially when they seem to have their shit together).
"...But I'm Kind Of Glad I'm Not Her Friend."
Then again, there are other mothers I meet that I silently thank the friendships gods I don't know or am friends with. Now, I understand this sounds rude and judgmental, but the gut feeling you have when you know you would instantly connect with someone sometimes tell you that you wouldn't get along with someone else, either. I think it's important to listen to that gut feeling, while also checking yourself and evaluating why you think you feel that way. Sweeping judgments aren't great, obviously, and we should work actively to avoid assuming anything about anyone, but listening to yourself and making sure you keep toxic people out of your life is, well, great too.
"I Would Never Do That"
Let's be real, we look at the choices other parents make and, sometimes, realize that what they're doing is something we, personally, wouldn't do. Like, ever. This doesn't mean we should shame or judge their decision, because what works for one family doesn't always work for another. It's honestly nice to be able to see what other options there are, how other parents are doing parenthood, how other mothers are deciding to raise their children, so we can either be validated in our own choices, or learn from other parents and try their brand of parenthood on for size.
"I Should Totally Do That"
Then again, when you see a mother making a different choice than you and it is working, and working well, you tend to question your own parenting style and think that, maybe, they've unlocked a super secret that you could totally be taking advantage of. Thanks to other mothers, I have learned how to co-sleep, been able to get my son on an awesome sleep schedule and have helped my son eat all the foods. I would love to take credit for those things but, nope, I learned how to do it all by watching and listening to other moms.
"I Wonder If She Has Ever Felt The Way I'm Feeling..."
I might be the only one (although, I highly doubt it) but when I look at another mother, I am instantly questioning whether or not she has ever felt the way I've felt. Does she, sometimes, wish she wasn't a mom? Does she, sometimes, consider running away to a deserted island so she doesn't have to parent ever again? Does she, sometimes, question her parenting abilities and wonder if she is doing a good enough job? I simultaneously hope she is and hope she isn't, because all of those feelings are difficult and make you feel guilty and fill you with self-doubt but, like, it's nice to know you're not alone, too.
"She Should Delete Her Pinterest Account..."
Pinterest moms, this is nothing against you, personally. Honestly, this comes from a place of extreme jealousy, because I am not artistic in any way and any attempt at recreating a Pinterest masterpiece ends in disaster and I'm just in awe of everything you do. But, still, delete Pinterest. You're making us all (read: me) look bad.
"...Right After She Teaches Me How To Do That One Super Cool Artsy Thing."
Yeah, but seriously: teach me your ways. I'm a fast learner, I promise.
"I Wonder If She Has The Name Of A Good Babysitter/Nanny/Pediatrician"
One of the best parts about having mom friends is the constant sharing of relative and important information. If a mom friend has the inside scoop on a great daycare or a wonderful nanny or an always-available babysitter, you're silently thanking the parenting gods for allowing you two to cross paths.
"I Hope She's Not Judging Me"
With "mommy wars" being a real thing, it's difficult not to jump on the defensive and just assume that every other is secretly judging you. I like to think the best of people (I think we all do, right?) but when you have experienced judgment and shame at the hands of other mothers, it's hard not to internalize those experiences and assume every mother is judging you, too. (They're not, though. I promise.)
"We Should Totally Drink Wine Together"
Some days I honestly wish I could just round up all the mothers I know or don't even know but sometimes see on the sidewalk or around my neighborhood, pop open a couple (read: all) bottles of wine and just sit and talk and complain and brag about our children and just, you know, talk. We can talk to our partners and our friends without kids and our parents, but there's a connection you have with moms that you can't really have with anyone else.