World’s Best Mom, #1 Mother, The Mom Rating System – everywhere I turn, I see evidence of Mother’s Day coming.
In our culture of judging moms for every move they make, I’ve grown especially weary of the greeting card industry’s narrow approach to celebrating moms. It feels like one more way to shame moms into feeling that they don't measure up.
The cards all feature the same stereotype of the perfect mom: young, perky-breasted moms with endless legs and sexy clothes, happy to play domestic goddess while looking perfect. This trope is fine for some cards, but it gets tiresome when you are a short, flat-chested mom who prefers to wear a flannel shirt and jeans. Or maybe you are a very large mom, with full breasts and even fuller hips and thighs – and you want to see an image of yourself reflected on one of these cards, but not in the humor section. Or perhaps you are a mom of color, and row after row of cards feature drawings of white moms.
Okay, so none of these cards work for you. That’s okay, you think, as you wander over to look at the beautiful, artsy Papyrus cards. Yep, these are lovely. You grab one for your sister, one for your mother, another for your mother-in-law and one for your best friend – and then you happen to flip one over to see the price. Wait, that can’t be right. Do I really have to choose between paying my electric bill and buying non-hideous Mother’s Day cards? Are those gemstones on the front of the card actually conflict-free diamonds?
You keep browsing, as you and fifty other people jostle for position around your overstuffed Target carts, each of you selecting and rejecting cards faster than a dealer at a blackjack table. Your screaming child is bored and hungry and has to pee and wants to go home twenty minutes ago, and the last thing you feel like is staring at another card for The World’s Best Mother. What does that mean anyway? Am I the World’s Best Mother if I make it out of the store without losing my shit? Do I also have to look sexy while not losing my shit?
Forget the prepackaged card messages, so neat and pat in their pink cellophane-wrapped stereotypes. I’ve decided to write my own messages and create my own Mom Rating Scale for you, my dear readers, judgment-free and free of charge as well.
Here’s my Mom Rating Scale:
For you, the mom who sleeps with the kids in her bed, clutching a tiny corner of the covers as stinky feet poke you in the mouth, because any form of getting sleep is more important to you than where your children sleep, I rate you Amazing.
For you, the mom who dutifully marches your child back down the hall to his own bed, time and again, because you are only able to sleep well with very clear physical boundaries in place, and your sleep allows you to be the best mother you can be, I rate you Fantastic.
For you, the mom who was able to breastfeed her baby, juggling the inconvenience of leaky boobs, nipple pain, and judgy strangers in public places, all while giving yourself to your child, I rate you Rockstar.
For you, the mom who carefully mixed bottles of formula, constantly measuring and filling and heating and cleaning bottles, because your number one goal was to get that baby fed and growing, I rate you Superstar.
For you, the mom who works outside the house, striving to support your family and provide shelter, food, clothing and opportunities, forever seeking competent and loving childcare for the times when you cannot be there, I rate you Phenomenal.
For you, the mom who is able to stay at home, enduring the constant demands on your attention, time, and patience, dealing with the long and often lonely days, working to advocate for the rights of mothers and children without sufficient access to equal opportunities, I rate you Outstanding.
For you, the mom who is raising a child with ADHD, autism, anxiety or sensory processing disorder, trapped in a groundhog day where it might take over an hour every morning to coax your screaming child into socks and underwear, watching as other parents seem to effortlessly transition a child through each day, I rate you Unbelievable.
For you, the mom who is raising a neurotypical child, teaching your child to be patient and empathetic when he encounters a struggling classmate, all while offering your assistance and genuine help to the mom who is at her wit’s end, I rate you Incredible.
And for you, the mom who spectacularly loses her shit but always pulls it back together, talking with your child about your feelings, apologizing for your own mistakes and seeking to do better, laughing with others about the insane scraps that your child gets into, modeling for your child that there is more than one way to be okay in this world, that labels are meant to be peeled off and that normal is only a setting on the dryer, I rate you Heroic.
Happy Mother’s Day from Portrait of an Adoption!
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Check out Carrie's award-winning book Bullied: What Every Parent, Teacher, and Kid Needs to Know About Ending the Cycle of Fear (Harper Collins, 2013). Are you looking for some awesome children's adoption chapter books? The second book in the Jazzy's Quest chapter book series for adoptees is here! Be sure to get your copy of Jazzy's Quest: What Matters Most, the sequel to Jazzy's Quest: Adopted and Amazing!