Through a friend’s Facebook post, I learned that The Huffington Post‘s blog post “What Not to Say to a Working Mom” by Devon Corneal, and Amy Shearn’s “Things Not to Say to Stay At Home Moms” are generating a lot of discussion. I’ve had experience with being both a working mom and a stay-at-home mom and agree with both posts. Devon’s words,” I don’t think anyone sets out to be rude or judgmental, but I’ve been surprised at what well-meaning and generally thoughtful people say to mothers” are accurate.
The words are so spot on that I mentally referenced all the out-of-place things people, including other mothers, have said to me both when I was working and when I was at home. I also remembered all the out-of-place things people have said to me about having a developmentally delayed child. Any mom with any atypical developing child of any form has heard them all. There’s mom-blaming such as “Do you think it’s because you… INSERT ALL SORTS OF THINGS HERE,” or “Well, you are a first-time mom,” and “You know, I’ve raised HOWEVER MANY KIDS… .” There’s also child-blaming, such as “Is he caught up yet?”, “So will he be able to play soccer?”, and “How long is he going to have to do that therapy?” I am lucky to have a child who is not wildly affected. Still, I long for fewer thoughtless comments directed at both of us.
As Devon points out, men are not subject to the same kind of commentary or even expectations. My mother says to me all the time, “Everyone always critiques the mother.” I don’t know why that has to be part of being a mother. But I know this: It is a privilege to be one.
My son said to me one day, “Mom, you understand me the best because you’ve been with me, you are my mom and you know what it’s been like.” As much as the critique can sting, I try to remind myself that my son’s opinion is the one that matters most.