Monday, June 6, 2011

Mama Bean finds there's a fine line between being a Proud Mom and being a Smug mom.

I think it is natural to be happy when some aspect of parenting that is confusing or challenging works out for you. You're happy when teething goes smoothly. You're happy when time-outs get the biting to stop. Whatever. It's happy when something that could be tough or was indeed tough turns around and is good or easy or not tough anymore. This makes mommas smile. I like to be happy about my own parenting victories. And I like to be happy about my parenting good luck, too.

I think it is natural to be proud of your children, when they learn something new, when they overcome a challenge. It's good to be proud of ourselves, too, to give ourselves some momma-credit when we overcome or succeed or, sometimes often, simply survive a particular parenting moment or phase. I am proud of my children, and I am proud of myself.

I think it's silly to get (too) proud about things your children do that are out of your control. Some kids are better sleepers than others. Some kids teethe sooner and easier than others. Some kids potty train earlier and easier than others. some All kids are different from others. So, like, be happy about the differences that make life easier. And maybe be sad and a little envious about the differences that present challenges. But recognize that it's not anything kids do on purpose, it's often just luck (even the sheer luck of passing on the more positive aspects of your genetic make-up versus others, it's not even our genes we can be proud of...) so there's nothing to be (too) proud about. Smile. But don't gloat.

That link is a little piece of bloggy history. Yeah, I gloated. I was a smug mom, for like, two paragraphs. Mea culpa. Please forgive me.

It's a very fine line, but at that fine point, pride becomes gloat. Becomes boast. Becomes smug. And smug? Makes me want to punch you in the face.

I'm trying to identify and navigate and be very careful about this line, because I don't want to be smug. I don't want to be something that makes me want to punch myself in the face.

I took pains in the post about how we chose to space our children to avoid sounding at all like I was implying in any fashion that our choice was the best choice for everyone, that our choice was anything beyond simply the choice that worked for us, and I still had defensive comments on facebook from people with different spacing.

What is the line... and how do I keep myself on the right side of it?

I think smug is the point when your pride in your parenting victory is expressed as pity for others. Smug goes beyond saying, "I'm so happy about [blank]" and sounds more like, "It's too bad you're not experiencing [blank] like I am." Does that make sense? I mean, no mom actually walks around saying, oh it's too bad your kid isn't just like mine. But it's implied, somehow, it's insinuated...

Or am I just being oversensitive? When you're on the receiving end of Smug, even the most innocent comments add their voice to the chorus of insecurities already running around your head, amiright? And then, what Smug sounds most like is Pity, and I don't know about you, but hate feeling pitied. Even in the most hormone-addled, sleep-deprived, low self-confident moments, I'd hate feeling pitied. Feeling pities makes you resist and push back and... punch smug people in the face lol.

Anyway, there's always a danger in writing a post like this. There's a danger in saying "This behaviour is kinda sucky" because then, whenever there's a whiff of me behaving that way, all the trolls that took it personally come out and let me know what a hypocrite I am. Or they go back in the archives of my (online or off) life and point out past examples. That'll suck... Anyway, I'm not saying I have this all figured out, I'm saying it's been on my mind. I've been noticing just how fine the line is, and I'm aware that I want to be on the right side of it. For the good of my family, and the community of mothers (online and off) I belong to, and for myself. So, I say the following with great humility, hoping that I will be treated with grace:

I'm (over the moon) happy with my experience as a mom. I'm (really quite) proud of my kids and my family, and on a good day, myself. But I'm not smug. Please, punch me in the face if I ever am. (Figuratively... :P)


  1. I think you're totally right. I think that often time initially moms are so judgey of one another. And some moms get over it but many don't. And if you are judging others, you are assuming they are judging you. So not only do you feel like you are better than them but you also feel a need to pre-emptively defend your choices. If that makes any sense..............

  2. You've set yourself a hard task. It's hard not to be proud when your kids are completely adorable and wonderful. :)