Dear Mommy Bloggers,
We are the problem.
It's true. Our entire industry is built on providing women with a platform to share their experiences and a community for mothers to connect. We have built a society that pays tribute to motherhood. There are websites dedicated to the empowerment of the stay-at-home mother, to celebrating the under-recognized contributions of the mother within the household. In that, we have succeeded.
Like most societies, though, ours has devolved. This happened a bit more quickly to us, given that technology has allowed the entire civilization of Mommy Bloggers to rise and reach its peak in less than 10 years. (The Romans, we are not.) Some of us have let this power go to our heads. We have turned on each other.
When we first started, it was acceptable -- even encouraged -- for bloggers to be open about the fact that motherhood is not all rainbows and unicorns and lollipops all the time. It was refreshing to hear another mother be honest about how her children aren't perfect. What a blessing it was to connect with another mother who was struggling as we were.
Slowly, though, the focus of our efforts began to change. Our commiseration evolved into discontent. It was no longer enough to connect over the difficulties of motherhood. We had to start being more honest about everything.
Did your kids do something really awful today? Make sure you post about it.
You'll get more shares if you call your husband a jerk.
Make sure you don't just talk about what happened with your teenage daughter; be sure to up the ante by calling her a "bitch" while you're at it.
Just don't forget to write that piece about how your friend's kids are being bullied but no one at the school will do anything about.
Why do we use our words to bring down other mothers? Why are we, the very people who should be supporting each other, such unforgivable bullies?
That's right. Bullies. That's exactly what we've become.
With one hand we defend those who cannot speak for themselves. With the other we use our words as weapons to hack at anyone who would dare to parent differently than we do. We intimidate mothers who put more effort into their child's activities than we do. We write posts about how parents who volunteer too much make the rest of us look bad. We write about mothers who participate in activities and bake cookies and keep their homes clean, and we actively attempt to make them feel bad about it.
If you've ever voiced a strong opinion and then called anyone who disagrees with you a "sanctimommy," you're a bully.
If you've ever laughed at a mom who catered her child's birthday party, you're a bully.
If you've ever had a conversation with your child about how to stop or prevent bullying, and then in your next breath belittled a mother for wearing yesterday's sweatpants to school drop off, you're a bully.
I'm sure that some of you right now are still with me. But some of you are uncomfortable.
You're wondering if you played a part in the destruction of everything we have fought to build. You're nervous now, because you know that you haven't always given your best to this society of motherhood. You wonder if you ever unwittingly set loose a writer's grenade that took out women you had previously called your comrades. You wonder if you were, at times, the unknowing leader of the opposition. If you have been the enemy within.
I am. I am the traitor. I am the problem.
I have poked fun at mothers for having the audacity to enjoy being a mother when I was struggling to overcome the negativity in my head. If you, like me, have ever published a piece that made another mother question her choices, then you're the problem, too.
It's inevitable that some who read this will scoff; I'll be accused of not having a sense of humor, of failing to get the joke, or of simply being a dullard. None of that's true. I can laugh, at myself and at the light-hearted poking fun at people who are in on it. I think sarcasm is hilarious.
The fact is, though, I just don't think it's funny to make jokes at the expense of others. I don't see the humor in diminishing what other women do for their families. We worry about our children becoming bullies, but are we the ones teaching them how?
It's time to stop celebrating the people who treat motherhood as though it has only minimum requirements that need to be met, who act as though anyone who does more than that is an overachiever. It's time to stop bullying mothers who want to be more involved in their kids' lives than you do in yours.
It's time to accept yourself for being the mother that you are. Embrace the choices you have made that you are proud of; come to terms with the ones you're not. Celebrate that your children are healthy and happy, or make a plan to help them become that way.
Write about your personal struggles, your experiences, your life. And when the temptation comes to take a cheap shot at another mother who has made herself an easy target, resist the urge. Just because we have bullied in the past doesn't mean we have to continue doing it moving forward.
We can do better. We can be better.
This post originally appeared on Mom Babble.