Mommyhood comes with a strange set of insecurities. It’s almost like being back in junior high school where every pimple and out-of-place hair was subject to intense scrutiny. We were so busy worrying about fitting in that we almost didn’t have time to worry about whether other people were fitting in. Almost. But there, of course, were cliques and in-groups and people who bonded together over common or shared experience and part of that was excluding others from the group based on often-sketchy requirements.
While at my moms-of-newborns group I noticed that I was becoming quite self conscious about my own experience of parenting. While Potamus is only 7 weeks old, and other women have babies of similar ages, I was the only one in the group who hadn’t brought toys to entertain him while he layed there on his blanket. My mind whirled through thoughts like “oh no, what stage is he at, should I have brought toys? I am a bad mom, I need to get on top of these things. What if he doesn’t develop normally because I didn’t expose him to toys early enough?” Clearly this thinking is delusional, as all over the world there are babies growing into healthy, well adjusted and smart, kids and adults without the abundance of plastic colored flashing first-world toys that are on the market today. However, I couldn’t help but feel inadequate.
And, because we are new moms and are trying to get to know one another on both a personal AND a mom level, the topic of giving birth came up. I was surprised that, once again, I didn’t fit in, as I gave birth vaginally, with only fentanyl at the last minute for pain, and the other four moms of newborns (versus the other moms who had babies a few months old and didn’t participate in this part of the conversation) had given birth via c-section, all not by choice. As they were commiserating about their c-section, the recovery, and how they were sad to have not had the experience of birth that they wanted (vaginal, no medication). While I could commiserate on having pain medication when I thought I could do it without, I, once again, didn’t fit quite in with the birthing experience that these ladies had. And while I tried to insert myself, there was this sense that even my trying to commiserate wasn’t quite welcome, because, after all, I had as close to the birth experience that they wanted and really didn’t have any need to complain.
I can’t escape the divide online, either. I am invloved in reading several forums and blogs and find that I am still not in any group fully. There are the offbeat mamas, which I consider myself a part of, but, while I consider myself a hippy at heart, I don’t really think of my mothering as all that hippy-like (though I baby-wear, and Boof baby-wears, and we might end up doing cloth diapers, and we co-sleep and sometimes bedshare). But I don’t have pink hair or go to rock concerts and I am not all organic and from the outside we look like just your typical all-american family.
So the other websites, where they have almost a disdain for breastfeeding and babywearing, but probably fit my personality in other ways, label us “crunchy” and “granolaey” which I normally wouldn’t take as an insult, but I want to fit in.
So I think thats what I need to examine…my desire to fit in…and why mommyhood is a club with cliques and why I feel so insecure, when really, we are all just trying to do a good job.