Dear Judgmental Mom,
First, let’s acknowledge the great pain you suffer over my failure to live up to your expectations! I’m certain you’re convinced that with five kids and a sixth on the way I’m in over my head. How do you bear the weight of your pity for my poor children? I bet you believe they need a mom like you.
Let’s just chat about that, okay.
Listen, I never ask for special treatment simply because I’m mom to a larger than average number of kids. I hold myself to high standards, though admittedly mine are lower than yours. I knew the demands which came with big family territory, and THANK THE LORD my husband is the most awesome father EVER. If he weren’t I would have been done with one. True story.
No, I don’t ask for special treatment when running around in the 1000 degree Phoenix heat taking five children to well checks, dental cleanings, ortho exams, broken wrist follow-up appointments, eye exams, school supply shopping, clothes shopping, museum trips, quarterly PID specialist doctors appointments, play dates, mommy/kids brunch dates, and the list goes on — all while pregnant out-to-there. Why? Because every mom runs ragged like this. I just make more trips.
I cram the former in between conversations with Tween about puberty and peer pressure, sending I-love-you cards to my Tender-hearted Middle whose love language is words of affirmation, snuggle time with my Feisty One, building blocks with my Quiet Son capable of sitting still, and wrestling with the Wild Preschooler who isn’t. But again, I’m likely only doing more of the stuff you do with your two children.
I’ll own it. I lack your drive. Maybe if you had five kids and one on the way you wouldn’t allow priorities like fashion to slip, but at least none of my kids ever leave the house appearing to live in squalor. I used to be a professional hairstylist. If I wanted my kids to look hotterrr than yours on a daily basis I’ve got the skillzzz to make it happen. But, our routine on “fancy” days takes AT LEAST an hour longer than yours.
This family is totally fine with looking average. Our most grievous fashion faux pas might be a wrinkled shirt, or a mismatched outfit I consented to because some kid threw down their independent identity card… Okay, okay! A few times one of my kids hasn’t brushed their teeth. I’m sure that NEVER happens to you. But I lectured about health and made all the required threats about the dangers to one’s social life, as any good mother would.
You should know, every mom — even one with more than two kids — is allowed days where they complain about the difficulty of motherhood.
Did you miss the class on appropriate ways to respond? Your job as a fellow parent is to rally around the complainer in solidarity and offer encouragement, preferably by sharing anecdotes from your weakest moments.
Maybe you know not the sting of failure? Or you’re above complaining?
Still, it’s my duty to remind you the Mom Handbook allots moms of larger families the same amount of public complaints as any other mom without it reflecting somehow on her decision to parent more kids than you.
Don’t steal from us.
In this home, it’s obvious, we’re more human than you. Have I mentioned how freaking difficult dealing with some of my children’s issues are? My kids may be rock-your-face-off-awesome (albeit less perfect than yours), but they deal with things like attachment and trauma, insecurity, sensory and impulse control issues … and our majority consists of emotional personalities (mine being the most), so there’s the added component of how we FEEL about all of this.
Lady, on this particular point I MAY have to manage more than you, simply because our family have extended ourselves in directions which aren’t common to most others in our sphere. Though, I never assume I’ve cornered the market on mothering children with atypical needs. (FYI –I’m not referring solely to my adopted kids.) You may deal brilliantly with all of these things and more, and I just don’t know it. Maybe this fuels your need to remind me how much more awesome you are?
You and I both know that when baby number six arrives it’s highly likely I will truly be a steaming hot mess — even more so than the usual perceived mess you think I make. I may have forgotten school supplies when we went shopping. I may be running to the grocery store after drop-off to grab lunch items because the cupboards were bare. I’m predicting wrinkled clothes and, YES, one of my boys might be going commando for a day because I forgot to do an “undie check”. Someone’s gonna forget to do their homework. Someone’s gonna need more practice with their multiplication tables. Someone still doesn’t know how to write their name even after I’ve been working months with them on it (but you don’t know that. You assume I don’t even try.)
I’m unashamed to admit that some nights I’m left crying tears on my pillow. Like you, I’d love to be perfect. Truth is, there’s not as much of me to go around as the kids and I would like.
But I remember feeling that way when I only had two kids.
I know you’re one hair shy of being Super Woman but I’m guessing you cry as well. In secret. So as never to offer proof.
I’m just gonna say it. Your insecurity can be contagious. Especially the way you project it on to others using judgment. Even your non-verbal criticism causes me to have to work harder to remind myself: I’M ENOUGH.
Not perfect. Just enough.
When it comes to the really important things, I will Blow.Your.Mind. Because somehow I DO manage to meet the needs of my many children.
This is why I’m writing.
You could relax and still be enough also. But if you choose not to embrace such freedom, I want you to know I won’t allow you to infringe on mine.
Instead of obsessing and striving endlessly, I’m praying God fills the gaps left by my humanity with His sufficiency. Which leaves me feeling pretty secure. Because I believe Jesus’ answer is always “yes!”
I wish that kind of security upon you.
For both of our sakes.