We’ve all experienced it at one time or another: The Mommy Drive-By. When a someone — a relative, another mom, a total stranger — takes it upon herself to question your judgment or criticize your parenting.
Single moms get flak about their social lives. Step moms are looked down upon for not being “a real parent.” Breast-feeding mamas get hit when they nurse their child in public; formula-feeding mothers get the evil eye when they whip out a bottle instead of a breast. Mothers from all walks of life are questioned for decisions large and small. And working mothers, well, they get a little bit of “all of the above.”
I’m positive that I thought I knew more about parenting before I became a parent, so I can kind of see why non-parents feel compelled to tell parents what they should do differently, whether are qualified to say anything or not. But when the drive-by comes from another mom, I’m baffled… why do we do this to one another?
One mom told me that I’m much too lenient with my kids, but “you can’t help it, you don’t get to see them much because you’re always working.” Another once told our older kids that she loved her kids enough to stay home, leaving my big kids to question my commitment to them. When my husband and I worked different shifts to cover childcare, I was criticized for “tag-team parenting” and being “too busy to be a good mother.”
Drive-byes don’t always happen in person, either. I got hit by a drive-by online last week by someone who has never met me before. My post about my preschooler and how her “Mama Drama” slays me sparked this lovely comment: “Wouldn’t it be easier to stay with your toddler and give her compassion and love from her mom, rather than drop her off with a stranger? Try being a Stay at Home Mom.”
The daycare question always triggers interesting drive-byes, with plenty of shrapnel to tweeze out of your flesh days and even weeks later. Yesterday, I was taken to task for saying that my youngest two kids go to preschool instead of just calling it daycare.
Never mind that my preschooler is actually in, well, preschool, and my toddler is in the daycare portion of that same facility. This person told me that she thinks I call it a school because it makes me feel and look better about what I’m “doing to” my kids.
I thought I’d be furious, but I wasn’t. I was surprised by the source of the drive-by, but mostly I was just tired. I pointed out that different solutions work for different people and suggested that, until she was faced with having to make the decision herself, it would make sense for her to stop criticizing me for mine. Then I changed the subject.
These drive-byes don’t make my question my judgment. But I sure am tired of being asked to defend it.
Have you been hit by a mommy drive-by? How did you handle it?
Thursday, July 31, 2008
Dealing with the Mommy Drive-By
A recent comment on my post at Yahoo about Mama Drama and an even more-recent experience with a really judgemental person made me think about the Mommy Drive-By and wonder why moms still do this to one another: