In a recent Jezebel article titled “Go Ahead, New Moms: Be a Little Cliquey,” Tracy Moore supports mothers who form tight-knit groups consisting of others just like themselves.
“In those early days I wasn’t looking for fellow slobs per se, but it’s unlikely I’d have befriended a Fit Mom, only because I would not have imagined that we’d be in the same headspace—and that’s okay,” she writes.
Moore explains that new moms are struggling and insecure, so it is normal and healthy to be around other women who endorse their choices. “The early days of parenting are fraught. You want to surround yourself with women who seem to approach motherhood like you do, which is fine. You have limited resources, and you’ll rely on visual cues and vibes to feel this out: the same style, the same diaper bag.”
In my experience as a new mom, I couldn’t disagree more.
Relying on “visual clues” is deceptive. Focusing on physical characteristics is reminiscent of high school stereotypes of who is cool and who is not. We aren’t teenagers anymore only this time trading in Juicy Couture for lululemon. Whether another mom has an UPPAbaby Vista stroller or she has her hair tied in a messy ponytail is completely insignificant. And just because I don’t get a weekly manicure doesn’t mean that someone who squeezes that into her schedule has nothing in common with me. Manicures don’t reveal whether someone has a similar approach to motherhood.
There’s no value in surrounding yourself with clones. It is important to find and create environments that are nonjudgmental because no new mom should have to tolerate being criticized for her personal decisions. But there is also no reason to feel threatened by those who parent in an alternative way. I have benefitted from listening to opinions that are vastly different from my own.
When you only interact with new moms who share your perspective, you narrow yourself in a way that I find stifling. Crowdsourcing is the best tool we have to gain a deeper understanding of other parenting philosophies. Let’s own our self-doubt. If we can admit that we are all wandering through first-time parenthood somewhat blindly, then what’s the harm in hearing about divergent paths? Why do we need validation to such a degree that we limit our interactions to only those who have navigated parenthood in the same way?
We are works in progress. It’s painful to admit when you’ve made a mistake. It’s excruciating when you have regrets regarding your children. However, if we are committed to being the best parents we can be, then we owe it to ourselves and to our children to be open. Differing points of view challenge our own beliefs and allow us to grow. We are doing the best we can, but there is always room for improvement. Only once we are comfortable with our imperfections can we truly digest contrasting opinions and choices.
There is nothing more unifying than being a mother. I now have more in common with a random mom on the street than I do with my college roommate, my childhood neighbor and past co-workers. We might not have the same educational background, family structure or religious beliefs, but we have children. Whether another mom’s hair is done in perfect ringlets and mine hasn’t been washed in days couldn’t possibly expose all of the ways we are battling the same challenges and experiencing the same highs on a daily basis.
Let’s keep cliques in high school and show our children that embracing difference is the most enriching and meaningful way to raise a family.