The Passive-Aggressive Mom Comment I Hate Most? 'You Make Life Look Easy'

Family vacation
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In the almost two years since I became a mom, I’ve heard the words, “You make life look easy,” muttered to me frequently. It’s said in a passive-aggressive manner, and every cell of my being can feel the criticism radiating off of it. 

I would assume it’s because I tote my tiny human with me wherever I go, and the resentment is real.

Not that this is a novel concept -- I know I am not the only mama to allow her child to attach to her like a barnacle -- but our time together has included traveling both domestically and abroad, holding her while she slept through our elopement, bringing her on our honeymoon, running any and all basic errands, going on hikes, going on long runs, and bringing her to the bathroom with me in the middle of the night when I have to pee.

I’m keenly aware that when someone comments on my seemingly easy life, it’s with an echo of, “…even though you have a kid!” My whole pregnancy was lined with commentary about how much my life was about to change, but no one ever said it positively. It was as if everyone was warning me about what a damaging thing I had just done to my freedom by becoming a mother. No one said, “Everything is going to change and it’s going to beautiful!” It was more like, “Well, you’re stuck at home now. I guess you won’t be taking off to the Himalayas again!”

To a certain extent, this commentary is correct. My life did change. I no longer have the luxury of doing whatever I want, whenever I want, which I can say without question is what I miss most about my pre-baby life. But I also haven’t let having a child override my ability to experience life the way I have always wanted to. It just now includes this extremely busy little extension of me, and a little more planning than I am used to.

I think my tactic of “just bring the baby along” unnerves some people because everyone views a child as a complication. But my perception is that parenting is just as hard at home (if not harder) than being out in the world. I would rather have the struggle of caring for a child while doing all the things I love than a.) Stop doing them, or b.) Do them without her, since I am painfully attached to my little offspring.

This has meant that my parenting has been on display throughout my daughter’s life from infancy to toddlerhood. Now dealing with a tantrum without an audience might be preferable to most, but for me, it actually helps. (Not to say I have never been extremely embarrassed by one of her epic meltdowns, ‘cause there is no shame like the shame of people staring at you while your child screams and hits you in the face in a Whole Foods parking lot while yelling “Help!” and trying to wave down strangers, even though all you did was bring her outside to cool down for a minute.) The audience helps me stay in check with how I respond to my daughter. It’s a lot easier for me to lose my cool when we’re alone, versus when I have the judgmental eyes of strangers staring me down. 

That being said, I’ve also cried in front of a whole slew of foreigners wandering the My Son Sanctuary in Vietnam because my then-18-month-old just “didn’t wanna” anymore, and lost it in 100-degree heat where there was no way out besides the long single path that led us in. My husband and I yelled at each other in front of our tour guide, our daughter screamed at the top of her lungs and rolled through the dirt begging to get out there, and I sat on the ground and I cried because I also just “didn’t wanna” anymore.

These moments are by no means easy for me. They’ve risen at the most inopportune times, and have led me to think I am ridiculous for bringing a kid all over the place. It’s made me question my own beliefs and morals, and think I need to reevaluate my parenting choices. These moments have made me feel like a bad mom. And most of all, they’ve reminded me that life is hard

But to me, that is what is so magical about difficulty, because in hindsight I am able to see how I rose from the struggle and worked toward being a more patient and tolerant friend, wife, sister, mother and all-around human being. Without the hardness of life, there would be no room for growth. So I keep bringing my kid along so we can face the next challenge together and continue to learn lessons in resilience, because that is the greatest superpower.

So, no, my life isn’t easy. I don’t think it should be, nor do I want it to be. I like knowing I can face struggle. I like that I am willing to paint my and my daughter’s experiences with different people, places and things. I like that we travel. I like that I run. I like that we complicate things. And I love this little barnacle that opens my eyes wider to wonder, patience, tolerance, joy, exploration and a whole new level of resilience every single day. 

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