Mothers in Arms.
One mom cannot possibly know it all. There is simply too much information to collect and assimilate. But a group of mothers? Now they are a force to be reckoned with.
Do you need to find a new pediatrician, a speech therapist, a music class, swim lessons, a pediatric dentist, a tot-friendly barber? Are you overwhelmed by the local preschool scene – trying to find out which school is best, whether to go the Montessori route, navigating the wait lists? Are you freaked out because your darling child, who was the very picture of perfection during the toddler years, has turned three and is suddenly channeling Damien from The Omen? All it takes is one call to a fellow mother-in-arms, and she’ll probably have an answer for you. And if she doesn’t, she’ll probably know someone who does.
But that’s the good stuff – the support, the camaraderie, the knowledge that even though you’ve parachuted into the motherhood war zone, where worry is your ever-present enemy, you didn’t land there alone.
The dark side to this culture of motherhood – and believe me, there is a dark side – is the fights that inevitably break out. And the things women fight about! You will never hear men debating one another over the merits of breast milk versus bottle feeding, or whether to circumcise or not, and certainly not whether one he stay at home or go back to work after a new baby is born. But women fight passionately, sometimes even tearfully, with one another over these issues and more.
And then there are the Mother Superiors, those mothers who know everything about everything, and not in a good way. They don’t use their knowledge to help the greater good. Oh, no. They wield it like a sword, ready to cut down all lesser mothers before them. An interaction with a Mother Superior will always leave you feeling inadequate, as though you should have BAD MOMMY stamped on your forehead.
“If you’re going to let you preschooler spend the morning watching Playhouse Disney, you might as well hand him a crack pipe and be done with it,” Mother Superior will tell you when you bump into her at the grocery store. “Did you hear about Montana’s mother? She actually sent her daughter to school with – ,” the voice lowers ominously, “– canned peaches in her lunchbox.”
And all the while, you’re just praying she doesn’t glance down into your cart, where the canned fruit is the least of your sins. What if her sharp eyes land on the juice boxes, or the fiber-free goldfish crackers, or – worst of all – the dreaded fruit snacks that you’ve already opened and handed out to forestall a brewing tantrum?
But, in my experience, the Mother Superiors are, happily, few and far between. And even if the occasional disagreement does flare up on the local mom network, I think it’s a good thing. Because these arguments, while occasionally nasty and often tedious, can sometimes hold valuable lessons on tolerance and acceptance. Not every mother is going to parent like you do, and hey, that’s okay, too. Just one more lesson I’ve learned from my Mothers-in-Arms.
Now if I can just find someone who will tell me how to convince my toilet phobic son to go poo in the potty, I’ll be all set . . .