The era of the traditional family, with a working dad and a mom who stays home baking pies and sipping tea at her leisure, is as outdated as VCRs, dial up modems and floppy disc drives. That old family dynamic has been replaced by a modern mishmash of varying lifestyles.
Despite this clear diversity, people — including fellow mothers — continue to make sweeping generalizations upon encountering other moms for the first time:
1. The Assumption: You’re in a Traditional Marriage.
The Reality: The number of households headed by married couples has declined steadily over the past several decades. Today the number of families headed by single moms‚ whether divorced, widowed or never married, almost equals the number of families with stay-at-home moms and a breadwinner dad. Same sex families are also growing as marriage equality gains support, and even polyamory is an increasing trend. So check yourself the next time you ask your new friend what her husband does. Because she might just have a wife. Or two.
2. The Assumption: You’ve Been Pregnant.
The Reality: More moms than ever before are starting their families through adoption or surrogacy. This means it’s perfectly possible for women to have children without ever being pregnant. You could also be a step-parent or partnered, it doesn’t matter; there’s more than one way to earn the title “Mom.” So think twice before you go on and on to your new friend about how her baby girl’s face is an exact replica of her own. Because it might just be in your head.
3. The Assumption: You’re All Washed Up.
The Reality: For many moms, parenting our children is and will always be our greatest accomplishment. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have other passions and dreams, or that the only hobby we have involves canning, knitting or raising chickens. We have active blogs careers, a multitude of interests outside of the home and, there’s no question, many of our best exploits lie ahead. So talk to your new friend about her future, too, not just the good ol’ days.
4. The Assumption: You Don’t Wash Yourself.
The Reality: It’s all the rage now for moms to brag about how they haven’t showered in three days, their house is in a state of absolute squalor, they can’t seem to get anywhere on time and, when they do leave the house, they’re wearing spit-up covered clothes with cheerios glued to the ass of their dirty yoga pants. But show me a mom who really lives like that all the time and I’ll show you another mom who actually has her shit together.
5. The Assumption: You’re a Self Sacrificing Saint.
The Reality: Kids are a lot of work. Sometimes it feels like you’re slaving away all day just to care for them, barely stopping to pee or take a bite of food. But the notion that we renounce any of our own needs is total bullshit. There’s power in a good babysitter, a killer workout or squeezing in a one-hour pedicure. Sure, we might do these things far less frequently than we did before having a family. Taking time for ourselves is hard, and we’re tired. But it’s worth it. So make plans to go out with your new friend. And rest assured, if her little darling dares to steal her last bite of ooey gooey cake while she’s off having fun, she’ll still have enough energy left to stab his tiny hand with a dull fork.
6. The Assumption: You Aren’t Cool.
The Reality: I beg to differ. Anyone who has ever met me will tell you that I practically invented the word cool, and I know a whole slew of other sassy mamas out there who could make the same claim. We are badass, awesome, charismatic mother fuckers. And we will cut you if you mess with our children. Or our dessert. So try to keep up with all that awesomeness. It’s not going to be easy living in your new friend’s shadow.
7. The Assumption: It’s Always Wine o’Clock.
The Reality: That’s just plain offensive. Some of us don’t even drink wine. We prefer whisky, gin and other “manly” beverages. And some moms don’t drink at all. God help them. So ease up on the wine jokes. Hard liquor’s way funnier anyhow.
8. The Assumption: You Shop at Target.
The Reality: Some stereotypes are just plain true. Sheesh, just accept it and move on.
So the next time you meet a new mom for the first time, curb the typical one-size-fits-all dialogue. Instead, keep an open mind and enjoy getting to know the real her, minus the assumptions.
Now excuse me while I go cook dinner for all three of my children, including the two I didn’t give birth to myself. My other half should be home any minute now from another hard day at the office. I wonder what’s taking her so damn long.