There is no shortage of judgment on the internet.
Erin: It’s like End of Days.
Ellen: You’ve watched the fights . . .
Erin: Munching along on your popcorn.
Ellen: Brawls are a dime a dozen between Work-at-Home Mothers Who Macramé Diapers and Stay-at-Home Moms Who Milk Their Own Soybeans.
Erin: And there is no shortage of rants about all of the judgment. We even got a little uppity ourselves with all of the Judgy McJudge-A-Lots when we published “Mommy Wars: You Are Not Cherishing Correctly.”
Ellen: But this is not going to be one of those rants.
Erin: This is going to be more of an urging for everyone to just be happy to swim in her own lane, as it were.
Ellen: A pleading to stop making yourself crazy by comparing yourself to another woman. You don’t deserve to be judged, but SHE doesn’t deserve to be your yardstick.
Erin: We get that Malibu Mommy and her Barbie dream baby carrier can make you feel a little frumpier than your usual Tuesday.
Ellen: We really do. I can picture the scene. You’re sitting there in your Baby Olympians of the Future class when Ms. Malibu walks in with her freshly washed ponytail swinging and nary a bodily fluid crusting on her yoga pants.
Erin: Basically, she’s just rocking the level of cleanliness that passes for normal in the general population, but is akin to putting on airs in the land of New Motherhood.
Ellen: But your hackles rise. “Who does she think she is trotting in all fresh faced to make ME feel bad about myself? I was up all night with a screaming infant. I’m lucky to have pants on, let alone worry about them being clean.”
Erin: But is she really your problem? Maybe Ms. Malibu doesn’t deserve the hounds of hate unleashed upon her, no matter how much she looks like a walking Pinterest board.
Ellen: Maybe she doesn’t deserve to be your yardstick because the truth is we are all just wobbling. We’re all just doing our best to stay upright, to keep moving, and to be happy.
Erin: What you’re seeing of that woman’s life is just the tip of the iceberg. You can’t judge for good or ill by the cute little handbag.
Ellen: Judging someone for looking good is just as bad as giving them the stink eye for handing out non-organic fruit roll-ups. Appearances of having your act together doesn’t always mean you actually have it together.
Erin: I know this. When my fourth son was a year old, he was outfitted with glasses for his very poor eyesight. Then his eyesight kept deteriorating for no apparent reason. We were worried, the doctors were confounded, and scary words and tests were filling up my formerly open schedule. My life with four small children and a husband working full time, attending school part-time, and traveling every other week was quickly spiraling out of control.
My life was a wreck and I was headed towards the ledge. I couldn’t take even one sweet inquiry into how things were going without losing it, so I decided to deflect all attention. If I looked like I was okay, maybe people would stop asking. I used a gift card to get the best haircut I had ever had as a new mom, bought some new, CLEAN Gap t-shirts, and headed out to parks, libraries, and playgrounds looking if not like a supermodel, at least like a reasonably competent and together Mom. He’s fine now, but it was a rocky time for sure.
Ellen: The point is that most moms are out there doing the job: making meals, wiping noses, checking homework, and holding the family together.
Erin: And we all have things that make that hard. Whether it’s a present hurt that wounds us or a past that wears us down, we all have a finite number of straws until the proverbial broken back. We all are just wobbling, although there are times we look steady.
Ellen: I’m having a heck of a wobble as I make it through this year of firsts without my mother. Catch me on a good day and I look like Suzie-Has-Her-Shizz-Together. Sometimes, remembering to shower is an accomplishment. I can be judged on both sides of the coin. Yay me.
Erin: So the next time we want to tear Ms. Perky Buns a new one, maybe we should pause for a second. She may be using exercise to stave off depression or she may live in fear because her father died of a heart attack at the age of forty-two.
Ellen: Or maybe she is just allowed to be fit without you having a reaction to it. Unless the “she” is Maria Kang, because yeah, she IS trying to make you feel bad.
Erin: But in general, we need to acknowledge that all moms are doing what they can for their kids and let go of the anger, resentment, and judgment. Sure, you might think Miss Mani-Pedi might benefit from a taking down once in a while, but she didn’t ask to be your yardstick. Maybe you should ask her how she finds the time. She might just offer to babysit your kids while you get your own pampering.
Ellen: So toss those yardsticks away because really, you’re judging yourself when you get wrapped up in all of the comparisons. Treat yourself with the kindness you deserve and direct your wrath towards something worthy, like those damn over-the-top bento box lunches.
Erin: She kids. Maybe.
-Ellen and Erin
By Ellen Williams Erin Dymowski