“Do you think you’re better than me?”
These are the words I heard in high school whenever I dared to express my opinion on anything. Whenever I turned down some trend or resisted something that everyone else was doing, I was attacked for it. It didn’t matter what it was. I could have simply said “no thanks, that’s not my style” and somehow, that would mean I was belittling the girls who did like that style.
I could say “I don’t go to those kinds of parties” or “it’s not my scene” and get branded a snob.
Simply because I chose to be “other” rather than follow the crowd, I was somehow snubbing them. And they let me know it.
I thought this petty crap would end after high school. That we would grow up and go our own ways in life and be cool with each other. But that hasn’t happened EVER in the history of womankind, has it? Sure, we find like-minded individuals who become our friends and we make different choices and it’s still all good. But the mean girls still exist.
Sadly, becoming a mother has meant that I am once again forced to endure this petty bullsh*t.
The worst part is that I KNOW this is totally unnecessary and STUPID! Seriously, I have a handful of friends, all with different parenting styles, and we still manage to get along. I know, shocking, right? These friends are a treasure, a gift, a rare jewel. I cherish these friendships. I wish I had more of them, but there are far too few women out there who I would be able to form a close bond with. It’s not that I don’t want to…well, actually yeah, I don’t want to. Because those women I’ve known who I’m NOT friends with are usually Mean Girls.
And there’s no group of Mean Girls that is nastier than moms.
See, here’s how a typical conversation on different parenting issues with my FRIENDS would go:
Me: “I breastfeed my toddler. My goal is to keep it up until he’s 2 or when he decides he’s ready to wean.”
Friend: “Hey, that’s fantastic. I had troubles/it didn’t work for our family etc”
Me: “Yeah, every family is different. We all do what works, right?”
Now, here’s that same conversation with a Mean Girl:
Me: “I breastfeed my toddler.”
Mean Girl: “Ew, why? That’s SO weird! I would NEVER go THAT LONG.”
Me: “Well, I find that it works for me and my family.”
Mean Girl: “Well I made sure to wean my kid as soon as he was 6 months old/a year/got teeth”.
Me: “Hey, yeah, that’s cool. I’m sure you’re doing what works for you and your family.”
Mean Girl: “Well we had to. The husband and I get more time to ourselves now. We didn’t before.”
Me: “My husband and I still have time together. We made it work for us.”
Mean Girl: “Well it’s STILL weird.”
Me: “I don’t think so. I guess maybe for some people, but I’m happy with my choice. It was right for me and my family.”
Mean Girl: “You think you’re better than me? Is that it?”
UGH! NO!!! NO!!! NO!!!! I do not think I am better than anyone simply because I choose to co-sleep/bedshare/breastfeed/have a home birth. I am not better than you because I prefer to have a midwife and forgo all medical interventions. I am not better than you because I choose to be a stay-at-home mother while you put your kid in daycare. I am not better than you and I don’t get all high and mighty about my choices. I simply want YOU to respect MY choices for MY family.
When I tell you I breastfeed or bed share or chose a midwife over a doctor or WHATEVER, I am simply telling you that I made a different choice. I’m not invalidating your choice. If you ask me when I started my kid on solids and I say “actually, I just fed him off my plate because I didn’t want to buy baby food and he was mainly breastfed” this is NOT me telling you to do the same thing. I don’t care what you do. But if I tell you what I’M doing and your response is “oh, you should really do this because it worked for my kid”, then you are an asshole.
Like co-sleeping and breastfeeding past a year. My god, are parents ever judgmental about that! The second I mention that my son still sleeps in our bed or that I nurse him down for naps and lay down with him, I get the “lecture” on how amazing sleep training is. And honestly, I could get into the specifics of why I disagree with that method, but I don’t. Instead I say “thanks, but that didn’t work for us.”
This is their first cue to STFU! But they don’t. The assholes will keep at it. They’ll say “oh, but isn’t that so hard on your marriage?” and I roll my eyes. They say “he’ll never sleep in his own bed.” I roll my eyes again. Because they aren’t saying this out of concern for my marriage or my kid’s sleeping habits. They are saying “your choices are wrong and I’m judging you.” They are saying all these things because they want ME to feel bad about my choices.
Sorry, I don’t play that game. I didn’t play that game in elementary school when the girls would all make fun of me for wanting to wear dresses instead of the “cool jeans” and baggy tops of the 90s. I didn’t play that game in high school and I refuse to play it now.
You want to get all bent out of shape over my choices that aren’t your choices, go right ahead. You want to think that I think I’m better than you? Fine, go ahead. But if you expect me to feel bad about it, I won’t. I will not apologize for my choices. I will not be made to feel guilty for any discomfort YOU feel about those choices. That’s on YOU, my dears. It’s always been on you.
I am not losing sleep over your petty comments. I stopped losing sleep over them when I found my best friend forever and she taught me not to give another thought to what others think of me. That I am worth loving. That I’m an amazing, compassionate, loyal friend and a strong and capable woman.
So telling me I’m “weird” or “wrong” or doing something that just plain goes against the “norm”. It won’t change my mind. I’m still going to do what I want, because I have friends who tell me I can. I have a husband who supports me. I am HAPPY with my choices, that’s why they are MY choices.
Maybe my choices don’t work for you. That’s okay. I’m not telling you to make MY choices. Go ahead and do what works for YOU. It doesn’t affect me. But in making your choices, don’t put down mine. It’s just petty and childish, and it makes you an asshole.
Please don’t be an asshole.