I’ve noticed a puzzling trend among my mom friends and our daughters recently that has me a bit freaked out. I see it over cocktails, at Ladies Nights Out, on Facebook, at birthday parties and even at school pick up. I see it on play dates, when our girls are right there in the room. We moms are talking trash, and I don't mean talking trash about other grownups. We’re talking shit about our own daughters.
I started observing this phenomenon a few years ago, when my daughter was in preschool. Moms would get together and inevitably we’d make jokes and complain about our kids. I have to admit, it was fun. And it helped me feel less alone. Three or four years ago, I could have easily told you who among my friends’ kids enjoyed pooping on the floor, who scratched his or her privates in public a little too often, who was residing in Time Out and who had inadvertently said something hilariously inappropriate in front of the in-laws.
But in the last year or so, the conversations have lost their light-hearted side. The tone is sharper, the frustration more palatable. And I only see it with moms and girls. In fact, I can’t tell you the last time a friend of mine complained about her son. But I can easily make it to my second hand when it comes to counting moms who are frustrated with their girls. In some cases I actually worry and think, "is it possible to not like your own daughter?"
I get that we all need to vent. No mom should ever feel she has to paint herself or her daughter as angels. Let’s complain that how hard it is to be a mom. Let’s complain that our girls are growing up and sometimes we have no idea how to manage their tantrums, begging, neediness and simultaneous quest for independence. But is there a way to do so without being so angry and resentful? And can we diffuse some of that ire among the boys?
I’ve tried joining the Moms-Who-Complain-About-Our-Girls Club. When I’m with my gal pals, I’ll throw out a frustration or two. Not because I’m so concerned about anything with her but because I don’t want other women to think I’m that jerk who acts like her kid is perfect. Isn’t that absurd? I’m 39 years old and using my child as a way to hang with the cool girls or fit into the mom crowd. And every time I do so, I know I am betraying my daughter.
Not so long ago, everyone was worried about becoming a helicopter parent, because we all know what happens to those kids. They lie stoned all day on their parents’ couches after college graduation with the 3,000 meaningless trophies they didn’t deserve around them, wondering why the world isn’t falling at their feet. But are now we overcompensating too far the other way, especially with our girls?
I imagine I won’t stop complaining about motherhood here and there, which I think is pretty normal and healthy. I just hope that I’m wrong about how we’re treating our girls. They deserve more, even when they’re driving us crazy.
(photo credit: ambro/freedigitalphotos.net)
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