The Mommy Wars

This week’s love note isn’t about me. Or my husband. Or the kids. This week, it is about my Mom.

Mothers are fabulous people. Most of the time.

But you never really know when you are going to get unconditional support, or a critique that slips past the ribs right to the heart.

“Oh, and on another topic, I want to talk to you about the love note you wrote on Monday about being lost.” This was the segue sentence in our phone call last week. Theoretically, at this point in the conversation, there was a 50-50 chance at either kind of comment. It could be that she loved it—but that perspective usually arrives via email, as a reply to the post. If we’re having a voice-to-voice conversation, chances are, it’s not that straightforward. She could disagree with me. Or she could be calling to point out a grammatical error. In some ways, those are the worst. Because grammatically disappointing your English major mother? Never a good feeling. And knowing that the mistake is out in the world for all of you to see, too? Insult to grammatic (sic) injury.

“In my experience,” she said, “it isn’t so much being lost, as it is being lonely.”

Ooooooh. I let go of a breath I didn’t even realize I had been holding. This wasn’t about grammar, it was about emotion. Being the wordsmith that she is, my mother followed the feeling to its real root.


“As a stay-at-home mom, I was geographically isolated in our neighborhood when we first moved there. It might be different for your generation. Your busyness may create your loneliness.”

I thought of my friends—the ones I hold so dearly in my heart, but hardly ever see.

Yes, I am lonely for them.

I thought of the dates my husband and I used to spontaneously take—I am lonely for him. I thought of how, when children are little, there is the irony of being lonely in a life in which all we want is to be left alone. Just for a few minutes. To pee. To eat, instead of inhale. To think. To speak, in a complete sentence without being interrupted.

And I thought about me. The me I used to know. I am lonely for her, too.

And in the days since my Mom and I talked, I’ve been watching loneliness. It can masquerade as many things. And I wonder, maybe the Mommy Wars aren’t fights at all. Maybe they are our attempts to establish tribes. To find our people. To create community. To end our loneliness.

To find our way home. To our friends, our partners, our children, and most of all, home to ourselves.

mommy wars

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When have you been lonely? And how did you find your way out? Or are you still searching? We each have a story. I’d love to hear yours.

p.s. My mom knows this one is coming, and she loved it. Mothers really are fabulous people. Most of the time.

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