A few weeks ago I posted a status on my Facebook page about how we’re going through the 2-year-old stage over here and it’s kind of kicking my butt. It wasn’t a “Woe is me!” type of post, more like a “Whoa! This is no joke!” type of post. Amongst the comments that ensued, there were plenty of “Oh man … I’ve been there” comments that oozed solidarity and understanding. Then there were those misery poker comments … things like “Oh, just wait! If you think 2 is hard then just wait until she turns 3 — it’s even worse. My child is so much harder at 3 than he was at 2!”
How does one even respond to that? I mean … I’m already feeling discouraged about this particular stage of development that my child is going through, and you think that telling me it’s only going to get worse is in some way even remotely helpful? Am I supposed to thank you for your sage words of wisdom?
Social media has created a giant game of misery poker that so many moms feel compelled to play. While the Internet can be such a wonderful and welcoming place for moms to experience camaraderie, it can also be a place where you get kicked when you’re already down. If you so much as mention a challenge you’re experiencing there will be those people who come out of the woodwork, determined to “raise you” X number of mommy points by telling you how much worse they have it or how much harder it could be or will be. I just don’t get it.
I have a 2-year-old, and while some days are wonderful, there are other days when all I want to do is go crawl into my bed and hide under the covers because I’m so overwhelmed by some of the challenges we’re dealing with. Sometimes I long for the baby days when she lacked the capacity to exert her own will and we never had grocery store meltdowns. Sometimes I think “Gosh! Those days were so much easier! Having a baby is way easier than having a toddler.” But then I think back to when I was actually in the throes of the baby stage and how overwhelming that seemed. I was exhausted and I had no clue what this crying little blob needed half the time. It was so hard! While it might seem easier to me now, it’s only because hindsight is 20/20. It was pretty freaking hard when I was in it … hard in ways that are different from the ways that having a toddler is hard right now. Babies are immobile and can’t talk back, but they also don’t sleep and they can’t tell you what they need. Toddlers are jerks sometimes, but I also get to sleep through the night and they can (sometimes) use their words to express themselves, which totally cushions the blow.
All of motherhood is a give and take. For every new stage of development there will be things you love that make your life easier, but there will also be things that are more challenging that make you look back longingly on that last stage of development. The grass is always greener my friends.
So, can we please just agree not to ante up for this game of mommy misery poker anymore? We’re all just mamas with our own unique strengths, weaknesses, successes, and struggles. Making someone else feel worse about what they’re going through will not make you feel better about yourself or make you a better mother. It just makes you a jerk. Sorry, but it’s true. Maybe we could all try a little encouragement sometimes instead? Instead of telling that mama posting on Facebook about how much harder life is about to get, why don’t you tell her that she’s doing a good job and she’ll get through this? Maybe tell her you’re thinking of her or send her an article that might be helpful for her.
Being a mom is such a special thing and it’s a bond we all share together with other moms. Even though we may parent differently, let’s build each other up instead of tearing each other down.
I for one fold. No more misery poker for me.
Lauren Hartmann is the founder of The Little Things We Do, a blog about life and adventures in Portland, Oregon. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram or catch up on all of her posts here on Babble.