There’s been a fairly spectacular upwelling of rants, sentiments, and anecdotes at Chez Miscarriage (via LizDitz). It started with the proprietor’s sturdy rant about Judith Warner’s new book, Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety, which as I understand it says that mothers who try too hard to do everything right are at fault because they’re trying to do everything right.
It appears that mothers are constantly getting told that they’re doing something wrong, especially by other mothers. The term for this is a “mother drive-by.”That initial post got 127 comments plus hundreds of e-mails, so Chez Miscarriage did a follow-up post:
as I read through your voluminous tomes, my eyes riveted to the screen, I began to notice a pattern. A theme, if you will. A leitmotif, which was this: apparently, other mothers frequently say crappy things to you about your mothering. Now, I wasn’t too sure what to make of that, so I began to surf a few bulletin boards in the hopes of finding some hard data. …Which she found, in loony abundance.
Knowing me as you do, you can probably imagine my surge of joy upon finding evidence of a deranged collective maternal psyche right there on my computer screen. And yet my thrill was short-lived, since—as my husband so kindly put it—“how do you know if any of that is real? weirdos write all kinds of things on the internet.” Yes. Well. Thank you, honey. I’ll take that as your belated Valentine’s Day gift.As of this moment, there are 328 comments to that thread, most of them telling stories that make my jaw drop. Her lively third post, Things I am Learning from the “Mother Drive-By” Thread, has collected another 80 comments. Her fourth post, People Unclear on the Concept, went up yesterday:
So here’s what I want to know from you folks: have you ever been the victim of a mother drive-by? And if so, what happened?
Please, no psychological theories, sociological analyses, or political opinions. I want personal anecdotes and factual stories only, the weirder the better.Show me what you’re working with.
Over the past few days, as I sat here at my desk, hundreds of comments and emails have poured in regarding the “mothering drive-by” phenomenon. I’ve read every single one, laughing or muttering in outrage, enjoying them all. Except the drive-bys.That one’s already up to 173 comments.
Yes, as hard as it is to believe, some women posted on the drive-by thread in order to make a drive-by. I gritted my teeth and refrained from pointing out their poor reading comprehension skills and deleted their posts and emailed them polite explanations. “Hello, I see that this is the first time you’ve ever posted on the blog. The regular posters here work hard to maintain an atmosphere of respect and acceptance. Please feel free to repost your comment in a less inflammatory manner. Thanks!”
But as more and more newcomers visited, the drive-by comments only increased. After a while, I stopped emailing polite explanations and just deleted the posts. I’m sorry but real mothering includes breastfeeding and if you didn’t want to breastfeed then you shouldn’t have had children. Delete. To all working mothers out there: if you’re okay with having a stranger raise your kids, who am I to say anything? Delete. I am so sick of AP mothers who use their breastmilk as an excuse not to go out and get a real job. Delete. My husband stays home with our baby and has been doing this for almost a year now. I just want to let the stay at home moms know something: if you see a stay at home dad hanging out in the park with his child HE IS NOT TRYING TO PICK YOU UP. Get over yourselves! Delete while acknowledging that I’m sorry you’re so frustrated and your husband is so lonely, but COME ON! This blog is not a Vent-O-Mat! Try to stay on topic!
By the way, I just want to let all the moms out there know something: get over yourselves!
Kidding.Then I received the following comment, the comment that made me mutter, “Okay, that’s it, it’s posting time.” Take a look, while keeping in mind that your comments to this blog entry will all be unfailingly polite and respectful because there’s no way I’ve worked this hard to remain civil just to have you people steal the curse words right out of my mouth:I’m probably going to get a new one ripped, but here goes. After reading all these comments, hasn’t anyone ever done anything wrong in raising their kids? I’m not talking about the breastfeeding-type thing … [but] about the stupid things I see every day. Like mittens. I was walking in the park the other day, it’s easy 25 degrees, and at least 1/3 of the kids under 1-11/2 years didn’t have mittens on, including some who were sleeping. Now, you can’t tell me every one of these kids has a fit and throws off their mittens. Or, as another poster noted, giving kids soda, or “apple juice” (which is not juice but sugar water - read the label). I have NEVER said anything, but boy would I like to. It seems that no one is willing to consider whether their actions might not be the best idea for babies and kids. [And this includes piercings - yes they are mutilations. Not that I’m attaching any negative connotation to the term, but piercing does alter (i.e. mutilate the body). I personally have lots of “mutilations,” but I was a grown up who made my own decisions about this - not someone else who thought it was “cute”]. Lastly, regarding newborns out in public: it is recommended that newborns not be exposed to crowded places (like anywhere people shop) for at least 4 weeks. I too am amazed at some of the things people say to moms; but I’m equally amazed at some of the stupid, dangerous and self-centered things moms do to their kids. PS Hot chocolate has caffeine.Um.
Welcome to my blog.Let’s take it from the top, shall we? …
I’m astounded. The behavior they’re talking about is worse and weirder than the stories on the Wedding Etiquette Hell website, and I wouldn’t have thought anyone could top those. I’d heard occasional mutterings about it from friends who have children, but I see now that I owe them an apology. I had no idea how bad it was. There’s a universe of wildly dysfunctional interactions going on out there.