I’m Just Doing My Best…And Who Asked You, Anyway?

Sanctimommies. A friend of mine recently sent me the definition from the Merriam Webster website.  The definition states:

a mother who points out perceived faults in the parenting of others

Want to use it in a sentence? “Sanctimommies of the world, rejoice! You have a new spokesperson, and even though she is a super model, she’s just like you: obnoxious, self-congratulatory and anxious to make all the other mommies feel bad.” — Dr. Amy Tuteur, skepticalob.blogspot.com, Aug 6, 2010

Guys, don’t get me started. Sanctimommies have been judging what I do since before I even got pregnant. “You shouldn’t eat that”, “tell your husband to wear boxers”, “you HAVEN’T been taking your folic acid for at least a year?”, “you should skip that wine. It will affect your fertility!”

I’ve got news for you. BOTH times I got pregnant was on nights I was drinking wine. Lots of it. Ha!

Unsolicited advice continued throughout my pregnancies, including where I should give birth, how I should sleep, that I shouldn’t consume caffeine as I would have tiny babies (with the blessing of my doctor I drank coffee every single day and still gave birth to babies who roughly weighed the same as baby horses), and the BIRTH PLAN.

When I was handed the birth plan form by my doctor (yes, I gave birth in a hospital and not an inflatable pool in my living room), the first thing I did was scan the form to find “epidural” and marked the box with an X although I was tempted to also use a big red Sharpie to draw arrows pointing to it, only because “HELL YES” didn’t fit into the box. What am I, a masochist? Last I checked, we weren’t being given “Mommy Who Withstood The Most Pain” trophies as we left the hospital. We were all leaving with the same prize. Our babies. More judging by other expectant Mommies. Without directly admonishing me, they’d say “I want to experience childbirth.”

Here’s the experience: When I was in labour with my son, after about 16 hours of pain, the final 4 of which were of the stupidest, most ridiculous pain I’ve ever known (and fyi I once snapped my arm in half. SNAPPED. In HALF), the anaesthetist FINALLY arrived and had to go through his whole warning schpiel. I wanted to throttle him but instead kept interrupting him, “yes oh god YES please where do I sign GIVE ME THE PEN NOW NOW NOW.” What followed after the epidural was such an enormous relief, I have never felt anything so amazing in my life, before or since. My then-husband told the anaesthetist, “I’ll bet you get all the chicks.”

My son wound up being delivered by c-section due to complications UNrelated to the epidural. I left the hospital with a beautiful, healthy little baby boy, which is all I went there for in the first place. All the months of wondering what the birth would be like were in the past, and the way he arrived didn’t matter in the least. The sister of a friend of mine who intended to have a drug-free, natural birth and wound up having emergency surgery as well STILL could not get over her disappointment over the way her baby was born, many months later. Seems like a lot of time to be griping over something there was no control over, don’t you think? She got a healthy baby out of the deal, that’s what matters, no?

The next time I was pregnant my specialist asked me if I wanted to try to go natural this time and I said, “can I book the c-section right now?” and this time he said HELL YES, because he was there the first time around. Turns out it wouldn’t have been a choice anyway, since 10 days shy of her due date my daughter already weighed 9.5 pounds – no question I couldn’t have opted for going the ‘natural’ route, as they wouldn’t have let me anyway.

Blah blah blah. Throughout the years sanctimommies continued to plague me, from their opinions on breastfeeding, their tut-tut-tutting over the horrible affliction of my son’s soother-sucking, to how it was practically child abuse to wait until he was THREE to put him into preschool, the eternal competition of how old/young your kids are when they are potty trained, etc., etc., etc. We’re all trying to raise people, isn’t it hard enough as it is without having to feel like we’re competing against each other? Worry about your own kid, I’ll see to mine.

You know what else wasn’t easy? Going back to work. I stayed home until my son was 3 and my daughter was 1, and had no choice but to go back. It was the hardest thing I ever did. I never thought I would want to, but after having my kids all I wanted to do was be a stay-at-home mom. The thought of not being with them all day killed me. But go back to work I did, with all the guilt that came with it.

What kills me more is that for the last 4 years, I’ve been a single mom. I freaking run myself ragged working full time and commuting, but I do it to support my family, put a roof over their heads, food in their tummies, clothes on their backs, and hopefully set a good example of what a responsible adult is supposed to do, that we don’t always get to do what we want, but we always must do what we have to. The time I’m not at work, I’m running around taking them to activities, puzzling over their homework and squeezing in as much fun as possible. Also, it’s a little time-consuming running a household with no other adult around to share in the duties.

Ah, but the sanctimommies. I can’t keep up to their standards. None of them speak to me when I am able to go to the kids’ school for their events or to pick them up. I’m not an ‘involved’ mom. They are  more mothers than I am, you see. I’m being all selfish and spending all this time away from my children, while they are devoted. Don’t get me wrong, I have many girlfriends who ARE stay-at-home moms and are wonderful friends who don’t judge. But the moms at my kids’ school won’t even speak to me, like some stupid high-school drama. Last year I took the afternoon off work to attend a parent-teacher tea. As all the moms were waiting outside the classroom where they were preparing the tea, I approached them, and they actually acted like I wasn’t there. If you know me, you know how I approach a group. Ignoring me is quite a feat. And they fully did. It was ridiculous! I was like, “Is this Heathers? Or am I Lindsay Lohan in this scenario (pre-anorexia, crack, cocaine and temporary lesbianism)?” In any case, you can imagine how it felt.

I’m less of a mom in their eyes, I guess. I’m thrilled for them that they have the good fortune of having husbands who financially support their families so that they can spend all their time dedicated to their children. So be it. My kids know who I am and what I do for them and with them. And this past summer, I was talking to my little girl about some kind of job (can’t remember for the life of me what it was), and I said, “wow, you would be so good at that. Is that what you want to be when you grow up?” And she looked SO disappointed and said, “no, Mommy. I want to be you when I grow up!” And although I wanted to squeeze her forever for the sweetest thing I’d ever heard, it was also the most horrifying thing I’d ever heard. I want so much better for her than this.

But I think of that every time I need to remind myself why I do what I do and that it matters. I might be considered less of a mom by others looking in, but the right people appreciate it. It’s just that lately I feel I have to justify myself so much – and it’s irritating.

THAT FELT GOOD. And I’m rather proud of myself that this was profanity-free.

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