Yesterday on Facebook, I looked at a quiz from TODAY Moms about stress. Maybe you saw it, too.
(If not, you can see it here.) It was about what, specifically, is stressing moms out these days.
Immediate problem #1:
I despise the image chosen to accompany the quiz and the connotations of a mom pulling her hair out, unable to handle her unruly children in the background -- even if I know what those days feel like.
Moms are pretty tough, and on the worst of days, I think we handle ourselves better than that. But it is that exact type of image that has become one of my pet peeves in how the media portrays modern motherhood. It's as if they are trying to make up for years of portraying the perfect housewife and mother on TV and in advertisements. But this flip side is just as inaccurate.
The busier days, the tantrum-ier days, the sicker days, the can't-get-anything-done-and-nothing-goes-right days. I like to think of those as the exception days. And even at that I can handle them just fine. It's part of my contract with motherhood.
Subsequent Problem #2:
The sample question was about which was worse: being called into the principal's office or your boss's office? Interesting. I could talk about that.
But then... Who has a more stressed out life, stay-at-home moms or working moms?
I'm only going to say this once. ENOUGH, ALREADY. Enough of the comparisons, the who-has-it-worse comparisons. No matter "what kind" of mom you are, you a.) don't need a label, b.) don't need to be judged about it, c.) have your own challenges and successes and your own set of rules to make it work.
Let's for one minute, stop and support each other, and work as a community -- preferably a community that doesn't find value in ranking mothers or pitting them against one another.
Sure there is stress in parenthood. It's an important gig with a ton of responsibility. There are worries you never imagined you would have in your pre-motherhood life. But there is stress in non-parenthood. Remember those pre-kid days? Yeah, there was stress there too. I'm pretty sure it wasn't motherhood that brought stress into life, although it does add a whole new set of stressors.
Additional problem #3:
When asked to list the specific stressors of motherhood, this disappointed me the most: one of the boxes to check was "staying fit and being attractive."
I would prefer those be separate distinctions as they are not nearly the same thing. Not all of us are at the gym to be more attractive. Hey, imagine this TODAY Moms, some of us want to feel healthy. Hell, maybe some of us manage stress with a run on a treadmill. In one sentence, women, specifically moms, were demoted into superficial beings who are just at the gym so they can "be attractive."
One of my personal parenting struggles has been carving out time to go to the gym or take a run, but it's not the struggle to "be attractive." It's a struggle to devote that time to myself -- to feel good, to stay healthy, to keep my immunity strong, to model good behaviors for my children. It's not about body image. It's about health.
And there were few things about health -- or even about stress or stress management -- on this survey. Here's hoping that the "results" of this online nonsense will reflect a brighter picture of moms. A picture that shows the strength, the perseverance, the love, the capability that is a mom.