When my mom was a stay-at-home parent, there were two categories: working mom and non-working mom. That's it.
Now, there are all of these qualifiers. Pinterest mom. Lululemon mom. Tiger mom. Gluten-free mom. Attachment mom. And the list goes on. Now instead of just being a mom, you also have to choose a special interest team.
This is part and parcel of the recent trend that parenting has become like an extreme sport. You have to choose the type of mom you are going to be, announce it to the world in some way and then go at it full force.
The upshot of this splintering is that it's made it harder for moms to connect with each other. It's hard enough to spend your days ruled by an army of young children; to add additional divisions on top of that is just brutal. It's such a huge bummer and an inexcusably cruel thing that women have done to one another. We're hard on ourselves and even harder on each other.
A few years ago, a friend of mine took her 1-year-old son to a Breakfast with Santa event in the hopes of meeting other moms. Right before she left the house, her baby drained the last two sips of her Diet Coke while she was putting on her coat. She recounted this story to the other moms and they turned on her instantly. "That's really bad - do you know how many chemicals are in that?" Oh, for God's sake. This is the incident that incites the cavalry? She didn't hand him a straw and a bottle of Mountain Dew. It was a mistake, a pretty harmless one at that and I think we all have a pretty long list of these. She left the event dejected and without a roster of new friends.
We adore our kids, can't imagine life without them and they certainly make spirits bright. But on the days where they paint the walls, refuse to eat dinner and fight each other like cats and dogs, we need another mom to understand. I don't understand why we all can't just say "I love my kids more than anything, but sometimes the daily flavor of my life is so frustrating and exhausting that I fall into bed with a filthy kitchen and a below average will to live." Most of my mom friends would nod and say "For real." We have to be able to relate to each other on this level or we're all gonna crack.
And so, in the spirit of the holiday season, I say: Let's all cut each other a break.
Rebecca Little, a native Chicagoan, loves discovering new ways to keep her two very active boys entertained lest they resort to spackling heirloom furniture or flushing toy trains down the toilet - not that those are real examples. Follow her at PinwheelChicago.com.
See more of Rebecca's stories here.