This past weekend I found myself embroiled in an internet battle via social media with several dozen people (mostly moms) over the topic of my daughter’s birthday party. I started it. I published a public rant about my frustrations over another class mom sending out invites to her child’s party a few days after I had sent out the invites for my daughter’s party. At the time, I was upset about it for various reasons (my own mom guilt and insecurities included) and I took to the internet to voice this frustration to the world.
I’ve always been public about my life online – my struggles and hardships included. I feel like I’ve been open and real, and I’ve tried to convey that through my blog posts and social media. I’ve talked about it all – from my experiences with plastic surgery, to getting married in a warehouse conference room after getting sued by a major airline, to my postpartum depression after my second daughter was born and suffered from colic. I try to be open about my life and write about my experiences and struggles in the world because I believe doing so helps me grow . I am only human after all. If we can all be open and real, the world can be a less judgmental and better place for us to raise our kids in. I’ll be the last person to claim to be perfect (I am far from it), and that’s why I need to write about the situation that took place over the weekend. It’s the only way to grow, heal and learn from past mistakes.
I posted a rant on Facebook over the fact that another class mom had sent out invites to a party for her son the same day I had planned a party for my own daughter. At the time, I was pissed and venting about it. As a mom, I worry about my kids, especially my daughter who tends to be shy, and I try to do the best I can in the ways I know how to help, this party for my daughter being no exception. While her college education or career may not be riding on her 5th birthday party, I felt like doing this for her could in fact show her how special she was and to give her something she could be proud of with her peers. It would be her first birthday party with friends invited and I wanted it to be perfect.
I’ll be honest and say that the party wasn’t just for her. As a mom who struggles with the ever-present and dreaded “Mom Guilt” I needed to do something amazing for her due to my own insecurities too. My guilt about motherhood and my own internal struggles at whether or not I’m doing a good enough job at this gig is never-ending. Mothers with children in school now are the first generation of mothers who are bombarded with the public and daily comparison of our peer’s lives via social media. And it is inescapable. We are fed with rules follow and beliefs to have, opinions of strangers and experts all around us, telling us how to do things the “right” way in order to be the “good moms” we all so desperately want to be. The information is overwhelming and it is conflicting and oftentimes confusing, so even if we try to do the best we can, the doubt of whether we are doing it the right way, or the best way, is always present in the mind.
We compare ourselves to one another based on the highly-curated and half-truths of one another’s timelines and photos – only the best versions of our lives, the parts we chose to share with the world. And usually we only share the good, perfect parts, and rarely share the struggles or daily hardships. And all of this leaves many of us with feelings of doubt, inadequacy and guilt over our own lives, because the perfect standards we compare ourselves to is simply impossible to achieve. They simply don’t exist.
I wanted to give my daughter a birthday party she could be proud of, but I needed to give her a party that I could be proud of too. If only to ease the mom-guilt cycle and my own worries of doubt and inadequacy for a few days. I wanted to prove to the world that I’m a good and doting mother to my children, when many days I feel so inadequate about it, even if I’m trying to do my best.
So when I posted the rant, I was frustrated because I felt like all the work and time and energy that I had put into this was all for not. I worried that no one was going to come, and that my daughter was going to feel alone, and that I was going to fail.
I never planned on the other mom seeing it, but she did. Even though I never named her or her child, she responded, and that’s when things turned ugly and the battle ensued. Even though I didn’t name the other mom in my post, and the people offering support initially didn’t even know her, I’m sure she read it and felt attacked. I don’t know her personally, but if I had to guess, it’s very likely that she struggles with many of the same fears and guilt and self-doubt with motherhood as I do. Bombarded with the same comparisons and the impossible standards we’re all faced with, everyday. Worried about inadequacy, and stuck in a world where it’s simply impossible to be perfect or to “win” at this mommy gig.
The battle went on all day long with friends from both sides arguing and fighting back and forth. It was all very immature and reminiscent of my high school days. The digs and insults on both side were low and horribly inappropriate.
Everyone played the victim.
Everyone played the bully.
Everyone felt attacked. But underneath it all, everyone just felt insecure and guilty.
And nobody won.
Because no one can win with the shame and guilt and insecurities we all feel in a world where the standards we compare ourselves to simply aren’t real and cannot be achieved. It’s a vicious cycle and it causes heartache and depression and insecurities within. It causes us to lose sight of the things that matter. We become blind and stop living in the present. We stop enjoying the things that are meant to bring joy. We get too caught up. And we all lose.
I was raised in a family too afraid of the opinions and judgments of strangers to ever have the courage to talk about the real struggles and hardships of life, or to stand up for any cause and voice an opinion of their own. They were followers of the masses and blindly believed everything that others told them to without question. As a result, I never felt like I had a safety net, or that they had my back. Perhaps it was just a reflection of the time, a life before social media existed and before people had the platform of the internet to give themselves a voice. But I do have a voice and I want to use it.
I want my daughters to know that I will always have their backs, no matter what happens, no matter what they do. We are all human, we all make mistakes, and we need to be able to move past them and to learn and grow from them. Because at the end of the day, we’re all just trying to do the best we can in a world where the standards are impossible. I will never be afraid to have a voice when it comes to my kids, even though it’s sometimes easier to be silent, and maybe sometimes I might even be wrong, or make a damn fool of myself. I will do everything in my power to give them all the things I can, to the best of my ability. It’s all any of us can do in a world where you so oftentimes feel like you’re failing.
I feel bad for the events that took place over the weekend. I feel embarrassed and disappointed in my actions. Beneath all the words and attacks and opinions, I was just want to be a good mom who does the most I can for my kid, the only way I know how to sometimes. I know she was too. I am sorry for the heartache and pain I caused to the other mom. I regret that and acknowledge that I caused pain to her. I wish I could go back and do things differently, but it’s too late. All I can do now is acknowledge my actions and apologize for them, grow and move on. We’re all just trying our best.