The Mommy Wars Manifesto – The Shark Speaks

Imagine if they threw a war, and nobody came

Yesterday was a big day for me.  Two very personal posts hit the ether in two different blogs, one about finding your passion, and the other about my personal struggle with depression–throwing one life away with both hands in order to fully embrace another.  I’ve been touched by the number of comments I’ve received, many of them sharing your own personal struggles to balance  motherhood with personhood.

My son was the canary in the coal mine of my life, and I couldn’t help but feel that I’d failed him somehow.  As much as I tried to put my personal angst away when we were together, I’m only human.  In this blog, and my other, I speak a great deal about parenting a teen, and its challenges, so let me say this right now, for the record–

My son is the most awesome person I’ve ever met.  The learning issues he had?  He’s an honors student in a challenging and competitive school district.  I do not put the bumper sticker on my car.  He’d kill me.  It’s bad enough that it’s a Prius, and his friends tease him about his tree-hugging, gay supporting, liberal mother.  He is conscientious and kind, and extremely funny, which gives me oceans of material.

I don’t have to go too far out on a limb to say most mothers feel the same way about their children.I consider myself fortunate.  I had a choice.  In fact, I had choices all along the way, and if I’d been more attuned to my own voice than the expectations of the unknown “others,” who knows what the story might have looked like.  I’ll admit that I’ve always held my emotions close to the surface, but the adrenaline of stress was both my drug and my poison.  My personal theory is that I turned the volume past eleven, and from that point forward became deaf to my own pain.

It’s pretty clear that I share that pain with a lot of you.

I get angry when I read stories about the “Mommy Wars.”  Everyone has congratulated me on finding my path, and that’s great.  But what if my solution was to hire a bunch of help and press forward in my career?   Would I get the same support?  I’ll tell you right now, that was my solution for a while.

When I quit my job no one in my firm knew that I was ill.  I’d kept it to myself (a post for another day).  I can’t tell you how many people thought I was nuts.  One colleague sent me periodic emails that simply said “Bored yet?” I’d reply, “ha  haha hahahahahaha. Gosh, you’re funny.”  They didn’t tell me I was brave, or wise or inspirational.

I gave you all a window into my life that no one else had at the time.

When we as women criticize the choices that other women are making, it’s time to dial down the volume and listen to your own voice, because it’s more about you than anyone else.  We don’t have a window into someone else’s world, to know what issues they’re struggling with in making their decisions.  We all have our own path.

Why don’t we decide, right here, right now, that we are on the same side?  Let’s assume that we are all doing the best we can with the talents and gifts we bring to the table, and the situation it’s set with.   The last thing any of us need is someone lobbing stones from the sidelines saying “Bad Mommy!”  One of my greatest gifts during my struggle was a friend whose only question was “Why not?”  She made me define and articulate the obstacles I saw in my way so I could see for myself which were real and which were a mirage of fear.  She didn’t tell me what to do, only helped me explore the alternatives.

So for all of you still holding pain and guilt from your choices, remember, you did the best you could with the hand you were dealt.  We all agree. And for those of you in the midst of the situation, the bad news is that there is no right answer, but the good news is that there is no wrong answer.  There is only your answer.  And for those of you without children, all I ask is that you let that weary woman know that there’s baby vomit down the back of her suit jacket before she goes into her next meeting.

You all rock.

I’ve shared my story with you.  Share yours with me.  Subscribe to Mobyjoe Cafe by pressing “Follow” and for the lighter side of motherhood, visit http://momaiku.wordpress.com/

Words by J. B. Everett

Photograph (and Oobee) by Leslie Keating

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8 comments on “The Mommy Wars Manifesto – The Shark Speaks

  1. hiyacynthia says:

    You are a very good writer. Just sayin’…

  2. Melody Pearson says:

    In my opinion, raising teenagers is the most stressful stage of motherhood. Conversely, it can also be the most satisfying. The only thing better is finding them again, when they are 35 to 40, as independent adults that you can call friends. Then you know that you must have done something right…^-^.

    I totally agree with your statement: “Let’s assume that we are all doing the best we can with the talents and gifts we bring to the table, and the situation it’s set with,” because none of us ever know all the facts that shape another person’s behavior.

    Great post. Congratulations on impressing NB. :~)

  3. amynruhlin says:

    Lovely piece J.B. I so agree..dial down the volume and listen to your own voice. Rock on. So glad you stopped by my blog http://www.theviewatmidlife.com

  4. Sarah says:

    Love this! Wish you could be part of our writing community here in Vermont. Ours is a community of women sharing deeply like this, week after week, in person. I applaud both your courage and your authenticy – in life, and in sharing in cyberspace. Kudos and gratitude!

  5. Sarah says:

    Ohhh, looks like the link didn’t take. sarah-w-bartlett.com. It’s the ‘who, me?’ post.

  6. muddykinzer says:

    I love the honesty! Choices are hard, and some will understand the choice you’ve made, and some will not. The only important thing is that it works for you! Thanks for the reminder!

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