It Takes a Village of Bad Moms
Last weekend I saw my neighbor and her two-year-old son playing outside.
I walked over to say hi.
“I had to get him out of the house,” she whispered. “He’s been driving me crazy. Temper tantrums every ten minutes, meltdowns over nothing … I guess we’ve finally hit the terrible twos.”
“Oh, I’ve been there,” I commiserated. “My kid’s three, and we still have days like that. Hitting, screaming, you name it."
“Really?” Some of the tension drained from her face. “That’s a relief. I was beginning to think it was just me. Like I’m just a bad mom.”
She’s a second-time mom with an older daughter. An accomplished teacher who works with kids every day. I’d assumed she had her shit neatly packaged into a Pinterest-worthy bento box and adorned with edible flowers. I never thought she might share my own doubts and insecurities.
Like I’m just a bad mom.
You think I’d know better. Especially lately, when the underlying message of every article and blog post about motherhood seems to be: We are in this together. We got this, sister. To which I say, wholeheartedly: Yes. Amen.
And then I promptly forget.
I start fixating on my mom flaws. I start worrying that my toddler might be emotionally unstable. I forget all moms have flaws, and that all toddlers are emotionally unstable.
(I’m pretty sure that the phrase “emotionally unstable” is in the dictionary definition of the word toddler, right between “sticky” and “has poor taste in TV shows.”)
So I drink up stories of other mothers’ lives like water—the hard stuff in particular. I lapped up Kelly McEvers’ comparison, on the Longest Shortest Time podcast, of parenthood and conflict journalism. I’ve lingered over Bunmi Laditan’s Facebook post about her ongoing experience with postpartum depression. I’ve cried over writer Megan Stielstra’s beautiful essay Channel B, about how a glitch in her baby’s video monitor led her to connect with a stranger.
I need these stories. I need these driveway conversations.
If it’s true that it takes a village to raise a child, then it also takes a village to raise a mother. A motley village of neighbors, grandparents, co-workers and strangers on the Internet. We are in this together. We got this.
It's a relief. I was beginning to think it was just me.