In her most recent piece, “Insult and Injury,” NY Times columnist Judith Warner writes of what she calls the “petty humiliations of motherhood” — when outsiders take it upon themselves to call out a mother on what they perceive to be less than optimal mom behavior.
One mom gets scolded for not reading the school handbook. Another, the mother of one of Warner’s daughter’s classmates, hints to the girl that Warner isn’t loving enough. Plus, obligatory excerpts from Ayelet Waldman’s Bad Mother book.
I read this column just hours after my own humiliating experience, when a librarian informed me that I didn’t have to roll my eyes behind my daughter’s back — that the girl only wanted to participate in the stacking of books on the counter. Of course I didn’t have to roll my eyes but … back in the stacks, did the librarian see the fires I was putting out back in the stacks? … wait, the point is I shouldn’t have to explain myself.
Anyway, I settled in for a nice “rah, rah” we’re-in-this-together moment with Warner and her buddies. Moms — no matter who were are or what we do — we’re behind a one-way mirror and everyone’s an eyewitness pointing fingers. So true! Except Warner doesn’t think we’re in this together. She thinks she, her buddies and other “accomplished” women are set apart.
From the NY Times:
I don’t know if accomplished women like my tablemates, or mothers like Waldman and me who have, let’s say, an unfortunate penchant for hyperbole, come in for a greater share of mommy slap-down moments. I suspect that highly successful working mothers suffer a disproportionate amount of scorn when they fail to have the time or available space on their mental hard drives to do things like memorize school handbooks or master Bundt baking.
Really? She went there? The working mom thing?
From what she writes, does she think not-so-accomplished moms (read: stay-at-home moms, part-timers, mid-level managers) memorize school handbooks while waiting for a toothpick to come out clean from yet another just-baked, delicious Bundt cake?
Let me reassure Warner that those of us outside the “highly successful working mothers” group — the mediocre to incredibly unsuccessful working-or-not moms — we’re getting it from both barrels too. Not only do we fail to live up to the mothering expectations of librarians, school secretaries and bitchy mothers, but we also get to feel like crap among the “highly successful working mothers” who we suspect (now confirmed!) are categorizing us according to what we do (actually, what we don’t do).
Insult and injury, indeed!
While we’re at it, share your most recent “mommy slap-down moments.” That is, if you’re not too busy reviewing the new school handbook.