There’s a place where I suspect insecurity and feelings of inferiority intersect and create a lethal concoction of jealousy and judgement. In this place, mothers ruthlessly bring each other down with glares and stares that could cause mountains to crumble. A place where the weak thrive in numbers and the strong walk alone questioning their judgement and skill. This dark and often scary realm is the mother “hood”.

We want, no no, we expect, and sometimes demand of our children that they play “nicely” with one another. Whether siblings or family members or friends, we’re constantly requesting that they share and use kind words and gentle hands and all the other appropriate fanfare of acceptable and polite social etiquette. Yet just beyond the border of that sandbox, where moms stand on opposite sides, often in pairs or trios, that’s where the unkind behavior really takes place. We talk about leading by example, but how do we expect our darlings to play nicely in the sandbox when we are often throwing proverbial sand at each other outside of it.

In the mother hood we may not throw up signs or wear our mom group colors, but the labels on our strollers and the makes of our diaper bags silently speak our loyalties. We separate ourselves into us and them sectors where polite smiles at baby yoga are our only interactions (other than the early-as-time Mompetition banter). You know, the kind that goes: Oh how smart is your kid? I’m only asking to compare mine even though I already know my kid is smarter so really I’m just creating an opportunity to let you know what I know which is that my kid is the master of the universe. Oddly, there is the odd parent, typically of an equally odd child, who schmoozes in complimenting your child’s behavior in comparison to their child, an apparent total disaster and so clearly completely not the master of any universe. Somehow they are the ones interested in staying in close contact and despite their unappealing introduction, fail to sense that they’ve simply just said too much.

Parenting is difficult enough without all the criticism and ridicule or worse than both, “stink eye”. My sense is we all (or most of us) are trying our best to raise our little ones to be their best and there just feels to be no room for judgement in this already challenging agenda. In a society where kids are having kids and babies have become an accessory one step up from a teacup terrier, it seems we should be more supportive and kind to each other. Particularly since we are, after all, grooming the future. It’s very much like politics in that way, while we may be on opposing sides when it comes to values and ethics and such, in the end, it’s a collective gain or loss. It is inevitable in this life to avoid being directly affected by the sheer amazing, or massively horrid behaviors of those around us.

If we look at parenting as a worldly, amicably communal responsibility, it may alleviate the hardship. I’m not suggesting we take liberties in disciplining each other’s children, rather raise our awareness that how we treat each other and who we teach our children to become will impact us all. It’s so easy to find those things that divide us and propel us into comparison, but maybe all it takes is a second or third look to see how similar our experiences and goals truly are. So next time you see that lone mommy walking in the hood, smile at her from afar or share a glance of compassion and acknowledge that you relate. And if you’ve been living by comparison, try creating your own standard, it’s liberating. Remember, no throwing sand! {no eating sand either}