How many mommy blogs and parenting websites do you follow? Thanks to Facebook’s newsfeed, I’ve now read five “I’m more tired than you are” articles this month, and I’ve had it. Enough, ladies. Stop fighting about who’s the most tired. It’s not a competition, FFS.
I feel like I’m on the longest road trip of my life and the kids are bickering in the backseat and I’m one squabble away from the “Don’t make me pull this car over because I WILL—just try me” point of no return.
Mom-of-Newborn: I haven’t slept in five months. I’m sooooooo tired.
Mom-of-Toddlers: I haven’t slept in 36 months. The teething, the Terrible Twos, the potty-training . . . just wait.
Mom-of-Teens: I don’t ever sleep. Haven’t for 18 years. Fortnite, the attitudes, sex & STDs, school shootings, drunk driving, my boy’s off at college doing who knows what and may be lying dead in a ditch for all I know. Trust me, moms, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
You know what I’M tired of? All the moms arguing about being tired. The fed-up parent in me wants to step in and say, “One more word, all of you, and I’ll give you something to be tired about!” But the compassionate parent in me knows that every single one of these bickering moms is truly tired. Each one. Regardless of how many kids she has, regardless of how old they are.
But let’s be honest. Moms have been tired for centuries. Think of the moms who were up before sunrise dealing with eight kids and then out in the field farming all day. No electricity (no HVAC!), no microwave, no McDonalds or pizza delivery—these women had to poop outside in wooden box smaller and less vented than a prison cell. They also had to start a fire just to boil water just to have a warm bath—in water that they shared with the rest of the fam. They rinsed soiled cloth diapers so they could use them again (and again), and don’t even get me started on what they did when they were on their period.
You might argue that their kids didn’t have to deal with cyber bullying or the pressure to be popular, thin, cool, or [fill-in-the-blank], nor did they have to worry about their children being gunned down by a classmate when they dropped them off at school. No, but most moms today don’t have to worry about their kid being mauled by a bear or snatched and killed by Vikings or drowning by a surprise storm that Doppler 9000 didn’t forecast a week ahead of time.
In the Early Modern period, diseases like dysentery, scarlet fever, whooping cough, influenza, smallpox, and pneumonia killed around 30% of England’s children before the age of 15. English moms weren’t the only ones who worried. Studies show that “even in the middle of the 1800s, a quarter of all babies born in many European countries died before their first birthday. At the start of the nineteenth century in France, less than one half of children lived to be ten years old.”
Every generation of moms has had unique and horrible struggles. Sure, we could argue which generation had it worse, but what’s the point? Likewise, each mom today faces a battle that to her feels unique and overwhelming. Telling her that the worst of it is still to come or to suck it up because her struggle pales in comparison to yours is counterproductive, unbecoming of sisterhood, and just plain mean.
What’s your goal here, anyway? To watch her give up because she can’t take anything worse than what she’s going through right now? For her to compliment you on how amazing and strong you are? Or for you to get enough clicks on your article to earn a quick buck? The world is hard enough (and people mean enough) as it is; we moms need to stick together.
I’m pretty sure that the actual “toughest time moms face” is not right after delivery nor the toddler years nor the teens. The toughest time any mom can face is whatever time she is facing right now. That means that the mom-of-a-toddler is facing her toughest time yet, so is the mom-of-tween, so is the mom-of-twenty-something, and so are you.
Each time is the toughest while we are in it—because we are in it. Of course, it’s typical to look back on any given time and say, “Wow, I had it easy back then. What was I whining about? Now, though, is really rough.” It’s ALL really rough when we’re in the thick of it because we’ve never been here before; we aren’t sure what to do because we’ve never done it; and we’re not sure we’re going to make it through because we’ve never made it through this before.
Hindsight is a gift in general, and motherhood is no exception. Those moms telling you that you have it easy have the benefit of having already survived that period of motherhood. So, sure, what you’re going through seems easy to them—they’ve already been through it and made it successfully to the other side.
But how did they feel when they were where you are now? They were whining then too. Don’t fall for the lie: They’re not any better or stronger than you are. They’re busy struggling with the period of motherhood that they currently face, and by the time you reach that period of motherhood, they’ll be telling you how easy it is compared to whatever new period they are facing.
I’m pretty sure the only reason any of us go online to complain about our life is to garner some sort of attention and affirmation. We want someone to see us, to acknowledge the effort we’re putting forth, to say “thank you” or “hang in there,” and to tell us that we’re going to get through this. We’re not here to play the one-up game or to read articles about how moms of teenagers have it so much harder than moms of littles. How ’bout we all agree that motherhood is hard, no matter the amount of kids, no matter their age . . . no. matter. what.
I’m also pretty sure that the mom-of-teens, whining right now about how hard it is to sleep when her kids are grown and flown, will be back online in a decade posting about how moms having to watch their kid go through divorce have it even tougher. And moms of grown children who came back home due to illness or addiction or just to live in the basement and play video games will argue that she’s crazy because they have it so much worse. And the mom whose child has died will shake her dead and remind these other moms that at least their children are still alive.
Aren’t we all in this together? To encourage each other? To help shoulder the load when Life gets too heavy? Or are we here to battle it out in our own kind of Hunger Games where only the last-mom-typing survives?
My kid was up til two.
Well, mine was up til two and vomiting.
Yeah, well, mine was up til four, vomiting, then sticking his head in the vomit to eat it and vomit again til infinity no take-backs.
We sound ridiculous. People reading these articles and the bickering comments that accompany them must think moms are a bunch of petty mean girls with nothing better to do with their time. No wonder we get such a bad rap. Our partner comes home from working all day and wonders why the house is a wreck, the laundry isn’t done, and dinner isn’t started, and we whine about how tired we are.
We’re tired alright—from reading articles on Facebook all day, rage-commenting, and playing “Which Mom Has It Worse?” with complete strangers while our kids need us now more than ever.
We get it. You’re tired. But arguing about it expends even more precious energy and replaces whatever good energy you had left with negative soul-sucking vibes that ain’t nobody got time for.
And speaking of time, you’d probably have more of it if you weren’t writing an article for that mommy blog to begin with. Or reading this article. Or typing a comment to post.
Seriously, put down your phone and go take a nap. I repeat: Step away from the laptop and go get some sleep.