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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A Race to the Bottom

There is yet another chain message going around the facebook ranks, and this one involves moms.

 "All the unselfish moms out there who traded eyeliner for dark circles,salon haircuts for ponytails ,long showers for quick showers, latenights for early mornings, designer bags for diaper bags, and WOULD NOTchange a thing. Lets see how many moms repost this. Moms who don't care about whatever they gave up, instead...LOVE what they getin return.Repost this if you're a mom and LOVE your KIDS."  (sic)

While I understand, and even support, what I feel the author's intended message is, I don't think that paragraph even closely resembles the thought process behind it, and I'm forced to ask myself - yet again - why facebook is so stupid.

Spelling, grammar and incorrect use of capital letters aside, this message indicates an odd trend in motherhood.  A sort of mommy martyrdom competition.  A race to the bottom.  It implies, accidentally, I assume, that those mothers who have sacrificed every shred of their pre-child personality love their children more than those who haven't.  It sets up a system where mothers can assess their "competition" using false and shallow indicators as measurements of love.

Instead of including all mothers in a supportive group hug as we struggle against losing ourselves, as we struggle to provide and love our children in our own ways, we waste time excluding mothers who do not fit our mold, who don't stand up to our own falsely set standards of what love means.  In my opinion, love and sacrifice are not the same thing.  One mother may have to sacrifice everything for the child she loves; another may sacrifice just a few things for the child she also loves.  Sacrifices vary by time and personality; love is a constant.

By using the things we have given up to show the world how much we love our children, we are feeding into the exact ego that messages like the one above are declaiming.  In one fell swoop that message says to me: 'mothers do not care about their egos, and since I care less about mine than you care about yours, I am a better mother than you.'  And in believing that we are better than other mothers who do things differently, we are feeding the very same ego we just looked down upon.

I believe the intent behind the message is to shore up mothers who may be feeling down, but it fails by excluding most of its core audience.  What about the moms who can still manage to put eyeliner on?  What about the moms who have supportive spouses or family and can take a long shower or two?  What about the moms who do go out on a Friday night once in a while, hiring a babysitter when the kids are asleep?  Do they love their kids any less than the others?  I doubt it.

The last line of the message sums up my view of it nicely.  "Repost this if you are a mom, and you love your kids."

Simply put, it's redundant.  If you are a mom, it's implied that you love your kids.  I don't have to repost a badly written facebook chain letter to prove that, and I can still get my hair cut, to boot.


  1. Bravo...

    I'm a mom who traded in her designer purse for a designer diaper bag (at least until I couldn't fit everything I needed into it), who goes out on a date with her husband every Saturday night, and even (GASP) goes out for a pub trivia night every couple of Wednesdays and comes home after a few daquiris and after bedtime. Which I made a point of posting on the FB comment threads of anyone I knew who posted this.

    Just found your blog--will be back later to read more.

  2. It's like chain letters will never leave us, and with the advent of facebook and the like they're becoming dumber and dumber. Making moms feel good is a wonderful idea. But that message is going to make most moms feel bad!

  3. Yes! I know several "mommy martyrs" who seem to want to make parenting as difficult as possible. Yes, a lot of times I go out and then realize that I have food/snot/dirt on my jeans, but I also manage to do my hair, etc. and keep my own interests in addition to loving my kids. Has my lifestyle changed since having kids? Of course it has. It just means that I sometimes have eyeliner and lots of cover up to hide the dark circles.

  4. I agree with this wholeheartedly!

    That FB chain message reads like it was written by a six year old. After I finally understood it (after the third solid read), I also believe the original intent of this message was good. That said, my train of thought too quickly tumbled from these superficial sacrifices right to my career. This part leads me there: "Moms who don't care about whatever they gave up, instead...LOVE what they getin return.Repost this if you're a mom and LOVE your KIDS."

    It's one of these American black and white way of thinking of things—you must have it all or nothing. and if you give it all up, you love your kids the bestest!!!!!1 And if you only give up a little bit you don't love your kids enough.


  5. I came across a term the other day that described mothers like that, whose only point in life seems to be to try and make other mothers feel like less of a mother than them - Sanctimommies. They're a curse and a plague and I'm very glad no-one on my friends list reposted this!

  6. I do agree that some people do see it in black and white. You have to do it all yourself. You cannot have a break from your kids, your mental health, meidical condition or mental illness is never important and you must keep your kids even if it means you won't be taking proper care of them or meeting their needs because of your mental illness or mental health problems or medical condition, or else you are a bad parent for letting them stay with your in laws or parents until you are better. Well I think it's being a good parent if you do let them stay with their grandparents because you know it's best for them and you are giving up seeing them all the time and being with them. I don't let other peoples opinions get to me about parenting. My husband was in poor health for two months and I was being told by a few people on a forum what a shitty dad he is and lazy because he could not care for our son nor help me. Then I was a bad parent for not being able to do it myself and for letting him live with my parents because I wanted what was best for him. That whole thread makes no sense now.

    I also do not let a FB chain post get to me. Also I only get my hair cut short, I showered when my son be sleeping or be in bed, I never had a designer bag because I had a purse, also I still had a late night and my son and I always slept in. Only thing that fit me is I would not change a thing and I do love my son.



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