Follow Up

Well. That was certainly something, wasn’t it?

In the midst of a discussion with Bob on the day that linked piece was published, he mentioned to me that, on occasion, he wishes I would complain less about the kids; about parenting our kids. Actually, the conversation went something like this.

Me: So, that thing I wrote about cherishing every moment kind of blew up. Some of the commenters on Huffington Post said mothers these days do way too much complaining about mothering.

Bob: I can see their point. I feel like, sometimes, when you complain about the kids, I think to myself that you should just suck it up. Because, it’s, like, your job.

Me: {Speechless. Completely, totally speechless.}

My reaction basically vacillated between these two faces.

Just imagine my face vacillating between these two reactions for many, many minutes.

Me: WOW! That is brand new information. How often do you feel this way, BOB? Tell me! I’m so curious! This is so interesting! I want to know more!

Bob: …

Me: …

Bob: …

Me: …

Bob: Well, now I’m not going to TELL you because I probably should not have told you this at all to begin with and I am now regretting this situation in which I find myself so let’s pretend this whole thing didn’t happen and I’m just going to stand here at the sink and do the dishes.

On the one hand, I understand Bob’s point. I do probably complain a lot about parenting my children. On the other hand, parenting my children is a relentless, incredibly challenging, full-time job for me so, do you want to hear about how our kids fought incessantly over one (1) Nerf dart for four hours, Bob, or should I just drink this entire bottle of wine, alone, in our closet instead?


Bob’s admission really speaks to a larger issue for me. This issue of how we’ve placed motherhood on a pedestal. A pedestal high above all other labor. A pole position of sorts that treats all of the emotions and feelings and sentiments surrounding it with tremendous reverence. Mothering appears to be the type of work that should be above complaint. A job that should be treasured for the sheer privilege of being able to do it. And, complaining about that privilege is seen as a deficiency.

So, when Bob hears me complain about the kids, it tarnishes just a little bit in his mind what he thinks motherhood is supposed to be all about, which is a decidedly more rewarding and sentimental version than the version that I live out day to day. His version has more hugs. My version has more poop.

This disconnect between what mothers experience and what mothers are TOLD they should be experiencing is really at the heart of what I was trying to address in a humorous manner in my last post. I think one reaches a certain point in their mothering journey where they remember all of the hugs and none of the poop. So, I know other mothers speak with the best of intentions when they remind us not to complain. I know they speak with the benefit of hindsight. I know they don’t mean to admonish. Reading all of the comments and messages and reactions to that essay reminded me of that.

But, I will never stop being honest about my mothering experience. The good, the bad, the ups and downs. Even if that honesty elicits comments that make me a bit eye-rolley. I hope you’ll be honest, too. And, if you ever need to complain, I’m here to lend an empathetic ear. I’ll even invite you over for closet wine.

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