Dear Other Mom-
Look, I know that this is confusing. We are colleagues in a world that prefers competitors. Peers, with nothing in common but our parenthood, and the paths there have been as unique as we are. We are all making this up as we go along, but we are terrified that anyone actually find that out. So, we do what we have been taught to do by years of school and work; we fake it until we make it. That's fine. That's not the problem. The problem is that the same rules don't apply here. Maybe you don't know you are doing this. Maybe gunning for the best in the room is what you have always done, and it has served you well. You were/are top of your class and were/are CEO at your work. That is truly wonderful, but, again, those rules don't apply here. There is no prize for coming in first at moming. No A+ report cards, no endless raises, no golden watches, no huge bonuses. Well, there are bonuses, but nothing you can put in your 401K. Now, I can't stop you from trying to win the mom game, I am just trying to alert you to the fact that you can't. You will exhaust yourself, and for what? Maybe your child will be president. Maybe he'll be a famous actor. Maybe she'll be president of the World Bank. That's nice and all, but those will be their accomplishments. You will have helped, but in the end, those achievements aren't yours and they aren't necessarily going to win you medals anyway. Do your thing, but please don't aim for treasures that aren't there and maybe are made of gilt anyway.
Furthermore, while some of us throw ourselves into long distance marathons that can't be won, some of us chose to pull that nasty trick of tripping the other runners; taking the focus off our own uncertainty and self-doubt by throwing the focus on someone else's all-to-obvious struggle and worry. Stop doing that. It's rude. Again, maybe this is how you survived school and work, but there is nothing to survive here. We are all in this together. Laughing at the new mom at the park and shaking your head in disbelief because she "hasn't heard of sleep training" will gain you nothing. Sure, the mob mentality may take over and you'll get some laughs, but don't be fooled. Those moms are going to play their cards close next time you are around. No one likes a bully, even if we are scared of them. And friends are what you need the most right now.
Mom bullys can be subtle or outrageous. Be neither. Don't brag about your child's 99% for height. Don't compare milestones. Don't openly gape when someone decides to bottle feed or breast feed. Sleep train or cosleep. Allow dressup at the park or sanitize the sand toys. We all have our roads to walk and you don't know the rocks and ruts that mom has to deal with. You could ask her though. Odds are good that not many people truly ask her how her day is going and stay to hear the answer.
Ask a mom her child's name, not the age. Ask if she has read anything good lately or if she likes Game of Thrones. Maybe she is more a Dowtown Abby fan. That's cool; variety is the spice of life. And make no assumptions about how that other mom decides to feed or clothe or discipline her children; it won't be the same as you, that is one assumption that you can safely make. Realize that she has other interests besides her role as a mother, and if she, or you, do not, that is something you might want to get on. I don't care if she wants to talk endlessly about potty training, try to get her on something else; it will benefit you both to come up for a little air. And the air is fine; you now have about 2 billion coworkers and potential friends. 2 billion women in the world who are doing what you are doing; trying to get these children to adulthood with as little damage as possible. You know what would help with that? Some friends.
Let's be friends. Let's talk about books and hobbies and being a woman and mother in 2014. Let's support each other and the unique ways that we decide to do this whole parenting thing. And please, please, please, tell me a joke. I want to laugh. I want to have fun. I want to embrace this wild, slightly crazy, very busy part of my life, and having friends around me would really help. I don't know what I am doing. I am full-on faking it, and I know you are too. It's okay because, get this; our bosses don't care that we are faking it! All they want is some kisses and an underdog push on the swing. Wanna do that together? We can talk about Guardians of the Galaxy or the Fault in our Stars; I'm flexible.
I oughta be flexible; I'm a mom.