Why I’m No Longer In A Mom’s Group

In previous posts I mentioned that I had joined a mom’s group and it was good for me, with my anxiety disorder and my fear of new people and places. It was good for Peyton’s social skills and getting her out and about. I really had high hopes for this working out. I slowly began to really come to the conclusion that in the end, I’m not cut out to be “that mom”.

What do I mean by “that mom”?

The mom who judges every little parenting choice of someone else. The mom who knows exactly the right way to parent YOUR child. Somehow, the manual to your kid popped out of her vagina with her kid. Apparently, you missed the memo, you are doing it all wrong. It’s right here in Chapter Six of “Raising Punky 101”. It’s the mom who thinks that if you aren’t parenting your kid the way they do, you are wrong, your kid will be a sociopath. The mom who is so very nice to your face, despite the obvious differences in opinion, but in a public internet forum, bashes your choices in a passive-aggressive way.

I’m not good at being that mom. And, apparently, I’m even worse at dealing with that mom.

You know, it’s not even that these comments are being personally directed at me. A lot of times, it’s just a general statement about one parenting choice or another. The problem is, it’s hurtful and I want so badly to say something, but instead, I hold my tongue. I’m really not the type to bite my tongue for very long. I’m really not very good at it.

It’s not even that these comments were directly solely at me and in some cases at me at all.

When you go out with a group of moms to relax and have a good time, I notice that all the ladies have a glass or two of wine or something related (unless breastfeeding of course). When one mom thinks it’s ok to call another one a “lush”, joking or not, it hurts people’s feelings and embarrasses people. Why say things like that? Because women are the best as making a ‘joke’ out of something they truly feel to soften the blow and not make themselves look bad.

Articles about car seats really bother the shit out of me. But, I don’t really say anything anymore. Not since I was basically told I was a bad mother (in not so many words) because we followed our pediatrician’s recommendations for Punky and turned her front facing when she turned 12 months old. She’s bigger for her age and frankly, she screamed in the car the entire time we were in there while she was rear-facing. I was happy to turn her ’round.

When I explained this as my experience and my opinion (not once mentioning anything about anyone who didn’t do this) I was slapped with a comment about how I should get a different pediatrician. And another mother, an expert in car seat safety, posted a video about what will happen to my daughter in an accident. I’m sure it’s all well meaning, but at the end of the day, hurtful and just another way to make a new mother feel crappy about herself.

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Let’s not take into consideration that I have an anxiety disorder. My eagerness to turn Punky around had more to do with my anxiety than anything else. When she was rear-facing, I couldn’t see her. I’m forgetful. Seriously. I couldn’t stop imagining that I would be one of those moms who left her in the car on a hot day. Even now, front-facing, I imagine my reaction to finding her dead in the back seat because I forgot about her back there for one reason or another. It’s part of my anxiety disorder, I picture these things the entire time we are in the car with Punky in the back seat.

During posts of seemingly support seeking mothers, especially those with small children who won’t sleep, the claws came out all the time. So, a mother posts about how she’s really having a hard time with the lack of sleep and looking for suggestions. The first time I posted that we used the cry it out method and how we did it and why and how it worked for us. The response I got from the mother was this: “With all due respect, crying it out is NOT an option in our home.” Well, excuse me for giving you a suggestion.

The comments continued with things like, “It’s unnatural for a mother to feel fine allowing her child to cry and not do anything.” “I can’t imagine leaving my child in her room alone and scared.”

These comments weren’t specifically directed at me, but I felt the sting. Wow. I’m a shitty mom because I let Punky cry herself to sleep one night. Let’s not take into consideration that both K and I were exhausted and really ready to shake this baby at the time. But excuse me, ladies, you don’t get to worry about your own well-being. Again, we took recommendations from our pediatrician to put her in her own room and let her cry it out. Not only for her health and need to get more sleep, but our sanity.

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Guess what, no one thought to take into consideration that I was sitting outside her door the entire time she was crying, tears streaming down my own face. K had to practically sit on me, because we knew it was best for Punky and best for our relationship and wellbeing. It was the hardest night of my life. Yet, Punky is the best sleeper I have ever met, mothers are astonished that she goes to sleep at 8:30PM and doesn’t wake up until at least 9:30 or 10AM. I get surprised faces when I tell people that she loves taking naps and we rarely have a fight when it is time as she will clearly say “Nap” and head to her room, when she is tired and usually right around the same predictable time.

But, screw me. I shouldn’t have allowed her to cry it out for one time and apparently, I’m unnatural and not a great mother for allowing her to be independant.

Don’t get me started on vaccinations. I will be real honest here. Do I think it’s weird that there are people who don’t vaccinate their kids? Honestly. I do. But, I have never said anything to these mothers. They are making their own choices and they are doing what they feel is right for their religious beliefs or their family or whatever.

So, why is it that I hear one of my good friends was told she was uneducated and ignorant for vaccinating her kid? Seriously? Someone said that. See that’s the case of the comments not being directed at me, but I have a few choice words I could say in response to that hurtful and highly offensive comment. But, I bite my tongue, instead of defend my friend’s choice, defend my choice. Because if she’s uneducated and ignorant for vaccinating her kid, then shit, so am I. Awesome, at this point, I’m really doing a great parenting job according to these moms.

Other things I have felt while in this group:

  • If you are on the computer and not constantly talking to your kid, you are bad mother and doing your kid a disservice. (Let’s forget that my second job is online, that I am actually making money for my family, while on this computer.)

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  • If you aren’t still breastfeeding your child after a year old, you are not supermom. (Let’s not mention that Punky couldn’t latch and I hated pumping because it caused me mastitis and my breasts were constantly on fire or in pain)
  • If you let your child watch TV, you will rot their brain and toddlers just don’t benefit at all by watching anything that is currently on TV. (Never mind the fact that Punky has learned how to speak from conversations with Dora and learned to jump, clap, and wave from the GiggleBellies).2013-06-29 05.09.28
  • You don’t feed your kid organic food? Bad Mom! (Except, jesus, organic food is expensive and we are living paycheck to paycheck. But, then, you use cloth diapers so you don’t have to worry about not having diapers for your kid. Another strike against me, whoops.) Of course, I suppose I could just get on the cloth diaper bandwagon, except we live in an apartment and don’t have a washer and dryer and can’t afford to wash our clothes as often as I would like, let alone shitty diapers. But, then again, I’m sure these moms just think we shouldn’t have a kid until we are financially stable enough to do this very important things that cost more money.

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  • One meetup I proposed to take the kids to the city hall steps to play in the fountains. I posted a picture of Punky, MY DAUGHTER, playing in the fountains. One of the comments I got was “I don’t know if that’s safe for my child.” For real? So, I suggested an activity that I have done with my own child, but it’s not safe for other people’s children. Way to basically say that I’m putting my kid in a dangerous situation and how dare I put yours in the same boat.

The last straw was about the debate on stay at home moms and working moms. All the instances above, I have pretty much not gotten involved, not since the crying it out and car seat instance. Because if I get involved, I’m likely to get banned and I really did like getting to know some of these ladies and we are still friends on Facebook. So, I kept my mouth shut and didn’t say anything.

Then a post about how being a stay at home mom was so much harder than a working mother. Working mothers had it easy because they didn’t have to change diapers and they didn’t have to deal with the constant tantrums and nap fighting and the exhaustion.

Excuse me?

I know how hard it is to be a stay at home mom, I live with one. I also know how hard it is to be a working mother, I am one! Each one of us has a different kind of challenge and hard work in different areas, but the challenges weigh the same. So, while I figured this mom was just trying to get some support for her own challenges, but she took the opportunity to shoot down working mothers in the process.

It brings me to tears every freaking day when I lay her down for her afternoon nap, knowing that I won’t see her again until morning when she wakes up. It is hard to come home for lunch, because she’s awake and when I leave, she thinks she’s coming too. When I shut the door and she can’t come, I can hear her disappointment plain as day in her cry through the door.

To give K a break, she gets to sleep in and I get up early with Punky and take her places before work. Am I exhausted? You bet your ass I am. But, I am helping my partner, the stay at home mom, and I am finding the only time I can get with my kid while I put food in her belly by working and making a life for her.

Whether she did it intentionally or not, I’m not sure. I don’t think she did. However, when someone pointed it out that her comments might be hurtful to working mothers, she got defensive and basically said she didn’t know why her comments could be construed as unfair.

That’s what broke my spirit. If you say things unintentionally that hurt someone’s feelings. How about we just acknowledge that perhaps you hadn’t thought about how things would be perceived.

I promptly left the group. Simply because if I said what I wanted to say on the forum, I’d make ladies cry. So, instead I post it here.

With my anxiety disorder, I take medication damnit, to regulate my mood and my anxiety, this kind of environment doesn’t sit well with me and it makes it very hard for me to function. As much as I don’t want to admit it, I’m certain I suffered from a small case of postpartum after having Punky and I already felt like a shitty mom, I don’t need anyone to help me think that about myself.

None of us need to have that in our lives. We are all mothers, doing the best we can for our kids.

And frankly, children learn from their parents, mothers in particular. Children teach their friends their habits. I’m not interested in bringing Punky into that kind of learning.

So, while I think that the mom’s group was beneficial for making a few great friends, I am not cut out to hold my tongue anymore about unfeeling comments made about other people’s choices and debates and Mommy Wars. I’m just not built to withstand the drama.

Parenting with Social Anxiety

We are officially a Gymboree mommy and baby. We went to open gym yesterday and Punky had more fun. She was able to crawl around and cruise on all the different ramps and mats. She was able to get out of her shell and play. I just let her explore the gym and she one minute I am talking to another mom and the next, I look back and Punky is WALKING.

She just took off. I was so surprised. She didn’t get very far before she fell over, but I cheered for her and told her out great it was and she just smiled and crawled back to where she started.

This struck up a few conversations with some of the other moms in the gym.

This is where things got sticky, in my head. I have a self-diagnosed social anxiety, a quirk really. I haven’t been officially diagnosed, but I know myself well enough to know that when I am in a public situation, with people I don’t know, I start to panic. My heart starts to race and I start to clam up. I do take a small dose of anxiety medication, but really I don’t see a therapist for it. It’s just something that I live with and deal with.

However, in that moment, I had to reason with myself that I had already taken myself out of my house, to go somewhere other than work or Walmart. I went to a social situation and I brought Punky with me. If I was already here, and it was the second time, that I just needed to relax and let Punky have fun. Let myself have fun.

So we started talking. Usually, once I get to know people, I am pretty much alright. I just have to get to that point. I have to get out of my house and I have to make myself not to make excuses or re-schedule the events. When I learned about Gymboree, I made an effort to go because I wanted to allow Punky the opportunity to socialize. So, that’s the first step.

I have paid the fee and set up a commitment for the the next two months to attend 1 class a week. I reason with myself that I can’t waste my money with reschedules and excuses that don’t really exist.

Once we started talking, one of the moms invited me to their mommy group. They have play dates and mommy date nights, nights out. I was flattered that this woman was inviting me, and she seemed nice enough for sure!  The problem is me.

We are not the most conventional of parents. We are parenting without religion, we are parenting without gender roles, we are parenting as a lesbian couple. I don’t know these women well enough to know if they would be alright with these things. I don’t want to be the whispered about mom either. I mean, I am sure these women are nice and in the back of my mind, I know my fears are irrational.

I don’t really have mommy friends outside of work. I think it would be awesome. I want, so badly, to get out of my shell and do this. Not just for Punky, but for myself. I have taken the first step and asked to join the Facebook group. I will try and get to know these women in a Gymboree and Facebook atmosphere.

I don’t know these women and they don’t know me. Maybe once I feel them out in a public setting, I might get around to stepping out and actually meeting them at their houses or in a more intimate setting.

Like everything else, this is something I hope to work on this year. I want to get out and do things. I want to take Punky places, I want her to experience things and I don’t want my anxiety to limit the things she is able to do!