Hands down, the biggest perk of my new blogging/website job is meeting other Mompreneurs who share the passion. This guest post, from a friend of a friend, is a perfect example. Thanks to a fabulous friend, Lee G., Mom Since 1996 (MS’96), I met this local author in passing, through e-mails, and finally sat down for coffee recently. If to-do lists hadn’t ushered us out after 2 hours, I honestly think we could have closed the joint. Meredith Jacobs, Mom Since 1996 (MS’96), author of “The Modern Jewish Mom’s Guide to Shabbat,” has tons of ideas about bringing faith home in creative, modern ways, and is ultra-energized on so many fronts. Here, she shares some thoughts on a recent controversy about drinking and mothering. Love how she brought the “momtini” in! Read on…
Mother’s Little Helper
By Meredith Jacobs, MS’96
While I understand that the idea of moms drinking at a playdate (or moms drinking at all) is the controversial topic of many recent news features, what truly hit home for me, was the comment made by a young mom in one of these articles that the alternative to her “momtini” playgroup is the one “where it seems like everyone is trying to compare their child to everyone else’s.” Reading that quote caused me to flash back to those years when I would return home wondering what I was doing wrong because my child seemed to be the only one not sleeping through the night. Or conversely, feeling so superior because my daughter ate butternut squash for dinner rather than chicken nuggets.
Where did we go so very wrong? Playgroups are designed to not only help our children learn social skills, but be a source of comfort and support for moms. Rather than sharing honest experiences, we use these moments to compete—to become alpha-dog (or should I say alpha-bitch?) in the pack of moms.
I remember during my own play group years, coming home in tears, calling my mother because everyone else’s child seemed to be perfect. “The other moms are lying,” my mother would tell me. And I echoed her response when my younger sister called me with the same worries five years later.
I’m certain parents always did this, always compared their children, knowing that those with the most close to perfect children had to be close to perfect parents. But it seems to have escalated. And perhaps the same reason the competition has heightened is the same reason a mom’s need for that glass of Pinot Gris at the end of the day has become prominent.
The women in the article, much like me and my friends have probably competed all of their lives. We are a generation of aggressive competitors. We competed academically and we competed professionally. But now, our profession is motherhood. We don’t have sales figures or legal victories or promotions or salaries to quantify our success. We have our children. The better they are, the better we are. And it’s for this reason that when my son had to enter pre-k because he was not ready to enter kindergarten at age four, I felt that I had failed.
What is with us? As mothers we should be supportive. As friends we should be honest.
And the competition among mothers is only going to cause the generation we are raising to be even worse. Children know. They listen to everything. Even a very young child can sense when a parent is disappointed. To put blame on a child for simply developing at his or her own rate is sad. To value oneself more highly because one’s child potty trained first in the class is beyond ridiculous.
And yet it happens. And pressure to potty train becomes pressure to push our children to play on the traveling sports teams and to over schedule our children’s after school time. As mothers of elementary school children, we compete over who has more children to get to more places more days of the week. We revel in our exhaustion. I’m a better mom because I logged 40,000 miles on my SUV this year.
So silly. So childish.
We have to stop. And, yes, I disagree with the experts interviewed in the article. We’re not lonely and depressed. We’re Type-A. And, no, I don’t think this is what drives us to drink. I think this generation of moms way back when we were single (and certainly before we had children) went out on Friday after work for Happy Hour. We were trained to celebrate the end of a work week by drinking with friends. And, this, I believe, is what these moms are doing, kicking back with friends after a work week. And being a mom is work. In my opinion, it’s the best work, but it’s work nonetheless. And honestly, every mom knows that sometimes it helps to have that glass of wine at dinner to get through the “witching hour.”
We need to make it easier on ourselves. Not by escaping, but by down-sizing, by eliminating competition. How? Stop buying into it. Worry how your child is doing and what is best for your child. Understand that you will never truly know what is going on in another home or with another family and then stop caring about it. Care about what is going on in your home, with your family. If another child is a star soccer player and your child has no interest in athletics, fine. Relish what is special about your child—what is unique. Allow your child to develop into who he or she will ultimately become through positive nurturing. Teach them to follow their own path. Give them down time to be creative and, really, to just be.
And that is how you’ll become the best mother.
Author Bio: Meredith Jacobs is the author of THE MODERN JEWISH MOM’S GUIDE TO SHABBAT (HarperCollins, Feb. 2007) and is the editor of www.modernjewishmom.com. She’s incredibly proud of her two children and enjoys her glass of wine at the end of the day.