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Shrapnel from another “Mommy Drive-By”

Categories: Parenting, The Juggle, Working? Living?

60 comments

We’ve all experienced it at one time or another: The Mommy Drive-By. When a someone — a relative, another mom, a total stranger — takes it upon herself to question your judgment or criticize your parenting.

Single moms get flak about their social lives. Step moms are looked down upon for not being “a real parent.” Breast-feeding mamas get hit when they nurse their child in public; formula-feeding mothers get the evil eye when they whip out a bottle instead of a breast. Mothers from all walks of life are questioned for decisions large and small. And working mothers, well, they get a little bit of “all of the above.”

I’m positive that I thought I knew more about parenting before I became a parent, so I can kind of see why non-parents feel compelled to tell parents what they should do differently, whether are qualified to say anything or not. But when the drive-by comes from another mom, I’m baffled… why do we do this to one another?

One mom told me that I’m much too lenient with my kids, but “you can’t help it, you don’t get to see them much because you’re always working.” Another once told our older kids that she loved her kids enough to stay home, leaving my big kids to question my commitment to them. When my husband and I worked different shifts to cover childcare, I was criticized for “tag-team parenting” and being “too busy to be a good mother.”

Drive-byes don’t always happen in person, either. I got hit by a drive-by online last week by someone who has never met me before. My post about my preschooler and how her “Mama Drama” slays me sparked this lovely comment: “Wouldn’t it be easier to stay with your toddler and give her compassion and love from her mom, rather than drop her off with a stranger? Try being a Stay at Home Mom.”

The daycare question always triggers interesting drive-byes, with plenty of shrapnel to tweeze out of your flesh days and even weeks later. Yesterday, I was taken to task for saying that my youngest two kids go to preschool instead of just calling it daycare.

Never mind that my preschooler is actually in, well, preschool, and my toddler is in the daycare portion of that same facility. This person told me that she thinks I call it a school because it makes me feel and look better about what I’m “doing to” my kids.

I thought I’d be furious, but I wasn’t. I was surprised by the source of the drive-by, but mostly I was just tired. I pointed out that different solutions work for different people and suggested that, until she was faced with having to make the decision herself, it would make sense for her to stop criticizing me for mine. Then I changed the subject.

These drive-byes don’t make my question my judgment. But I sure am tired of being asked to defend it.

Have you been hit by a mommy drive-by? How did you handle it?



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60 comments so far...

  • I have a woman who comes back to my personal blog again and again, only to leave judgmental comments on the few serious posts, always telling me what a rotten mother she thinks I am. The first time she seemed semi-sane and I emailed her a response (my mistake; I didn’t realize it was a drive-by) but since then I can set my clock by it: If I’m feeling down, she’ll come by to tell me what a horrible job I’m doing.

    At this point it usually just amuses me, though I have to say that finding her latest missive this morning as I send my husband off to see his dying mother was a bit much. Thank goodness for karma, the bitch we all wish we could be. ;)

    Mir  |  July 31st, 2008 at 4:33 am

  • As I am sure you know, these drive-by comments usually come from an issue with the person making the comment and nothing to do with you. Maybe the person wishes she could do what you are doing but because she can’t/won’t, she feels better tearing you down for it. Or, maybe they are just hormonal and crazy. Either way, smug judgemental women are the worst beast out there in the parenting world. Hang tough! You are doing a great job!

    Darcie  |  July 31st, 2008 at 8:41 am

  • The daycare drive-bys are the most annoying by far. When my son hit around 6 months he started getting ear infection after ear infection, a condition that runs in my family certainly, but clearly is the fault of my decision to put him in daycare, right? It’s funny, no one said he walked early due to daycare.

    I have a tendency to stick up for myself and other moms when these drive-bys occur. I was waiting in line for a prescription at Costco where a baby was screaming her lungs out nearby. The elderly woman in front of me said something about the baby crying and the pharmacist actually said “it sounds like that baby is very hungry” to the lady. When it was my turn to step to the counter I said, as a mother I’d like you to consider putting out what some would consider an expert opinion about why that baby is crying when you have no idea what the situation is. She just looked at me blankly and it was clear that she was not even a mother.

    Brenda  |  July 31st, 2008 at 9:03 am

  • Mir: I’m so sorry about your husband’s mother, and about the fact that you got hit by a drive-by during an already stressful time! I’m certain that Karma has a bullseye on this woman’s back and will hit the mark sooner or later! The repeat drive-byes are bewildering, though… if she disagrees with what you write and how you parent, why does she keep reading? Gah!

    Darcie: Thank you! Both for the props and for the good reminders of how to deal with the drive-byes!

    Brenda: Yeah, people tend to overlook the benefits of daycare. And the fact that, before formal daycare, back in those “it takes a village” days, women used to take turns looking after their neighbor’s kids, sometimes dropping them all at one home to make it easier. Sounds a lot like… daycare? Also, good for you for sticking up for yourself when it happens in public!

    Lylah  |  July 31st, 2008 at 9:13 am

  • Thank You so very much for writing about the Mommy drive by!!! I am so sensitive to people questioning my ability to being a mother and am so glad to hear other people get similar comments. I just got one the other day from my sister and I completely over reacted.
    Nice to know I am not alone!!!

    Terri  |  July 31st, 2008 at 10:45 am

  • Terri: You are not alone in this AT ALL! It’s hard not to take drive-byes personally — afterall, they’re meant to be personal, right? Darcie mentioned some really good points in her comment (above)… I’m trying hard to remember that the drive-by is more often a reflection of the person who is being critical than it is of the person hearing the criticism… Hang in there!

    Lylah  |  July 31st, 2008 at 11:44 am

  • I’m having some issues with drive-by parenting by someone who I thought was one of my closest friends.
    it makes me really sad, and I hate it that I lose sleep questioning my decisions when I *know* deep down inside that I am absolutely doing the right thing for our family.

    I really don’t understand how women can justify tearing down another in order to validate themselves, or their decisions. When I’m in a good place, I can take a step back and understand the vile has nothing to do with me; but when I’m feeling vulnerable, a drive-by can cut to the soul.

    it totally sucks.
    xox
    steph

    crockpot lady  |  July 31st, 2008 at 11:49 am

  • I’m so sorry, Steph — I’ve had drive-byes from women with whom I thought I was close, and it felt like a double betrayal (once as a fellow mom and again as a personal friend). The tearing down of other women happens in non-parenting situations, too… I really don’t understand why either. XOX right back at ya’, and sending you love and support.

    Lylah  |  July 31st, 2008 at 11:56 am

  • I don’t send my kids to daycare (I hired an in-home nanny), and I’ve seen my share of eyebrow-raising for that. Oh, that must be the reason my kids are shy with new people, one is uncomfortable in new situations, and neither of them is likely to recite Hamlet’s Soliloquy by age 2. It couldn’t be that that’s the way they are wired / the abilities God gave them. Or, God forbid, that that’s actually normal for their age! And like someone else said, it doesn’t seem to occur to these folks that maybe that’s why my kids don’t have certain “common” issues such as biting or frequent illnesses.

    First of all, it kind of amazes me that other moms assume we didn’t think long and hard about our decisions regarding childcare. Or anything else for that matter.

    Secondly, while I agree a lot of these folks are reacting to their own insecurities, I think there’s more to it. I think, specifically, that many Americans have a picture of an “ideal” for a child - ideal behavior, ideal development, body type, etc. People in this country, by and large, fail to embrace the wonderful reality that everyone is wired differently by nature, and there’s nothing we can do to change that. Baby A is quiet - wonderful! B is talkative - what a blessing! C is passionate, D is considerate, E wants to know everything about everything, F wants quiet time to imagine things. So if F isn’t learning the itsy bitsy spider song as fast as B, most likely that’s an indication that F is doing wonderfully at something B couldn’t care less about. It’s all about balance - there is certainly no such thing as “an ideal” when it comes to human beings. Sounds obvious, but people act like it’s a foreign concept.

    Mostly I just smile and nod when someone says something judgmental about my choices. I’ll say something vague like “I considered all my options and decided this was best.” It’s not like we can ever change anyone else’s mind anyway.

    SKL  |  July 31st, 2008 at 12:08 pm

  • Lylah, you were so great when I was going through this on my blog. I can’t even tell you how much it lifted my spirits and encouraged me when you stepped out and supported me, someone you don’t even know! It restored my faith in moms everywhere. THANK YOU.

    Here’s MY preception (maybe I am wrong, but this has been my experience): It really seems to come far, far more from SAHMs than anyone else. And I don’t really understand that. I hope this mama doesn’t mind me using her quote from a thread, but this is what she had to say, and it really made some sense to me that the SAHMs that feel that they must viciously attack others for their choices might feel like this:

    “An unhappy SAHM gave up financial security. She gave up herself, herr own identity, mental stimulation, and any use for her education and training, or the opportunity for it if she never had any. She has nothing to fall back on if her husband leaves her. She has no marketable skills and no meaning outside of her kids.

    She did all of this because she truly, heartfully and sincerely beleives that it is the absolute best thing for her children, that her children will not and cannot thrive unless she did this. It’s a noble sacrifice and it’s a huge part of who she is.

    Then she sees us and our kids - and our kids are thriving. They are polite, sweet, well mannered, and are suceeding in school - JUST LIKE HER KIDS ARE (or aren’t, and that’s even worse).

    So she could have kept her own identity and STILL HAD GREAT KIDS.

    Can you imagine how much that must suck? That’s why they cut us down. To live in their world, to benefit from their sacrifice, they absolutely must believe we are hurting our kids. Otherwise, if they are not happy as SAHMs, they have sacrificed for nothing.”

    Robyn  |  July 31st, 2008 at 12:20 pm

  • I LOVE the drive-by!! (and your post should really be the subject of a mom-Seinfeld, don’t you think?) I used to get so hurt and angry and try to defend myself..but that never works for me, so now, I just use humor - I always say something to this effect - “Oh no, I love having my son in daycare - I would be a horrible stay at home mom, I just can’t do it - he’d just be too well versed in Oprah and Dr. Phil if it were up to me to take care of him all day!” I’ve found that SAHM’s just don’t know how to respond when I’ve very obviously insulted myself and my own parenting skills. It completely deflates their argument. Not only is what I say completely true (I’d never make it at home), it’s just kinda fun to take away the fight for them.

    Shannon  |  July 31st, 2008 at 12:34 pm

  • i think its amazing what you do and how you do it. Dont bother with such ppl who cannot help themselves! i love coming to your blog and reading all that you care bout and how you manage it! Hats off to you. I am thinking of having kids now. (i am 25) AND am working fulltime, so i completely understand where you come from. PPl will talk this way and that. dont care. just smirk and move on!
    -an avid reader
    Keyomi Kothari (San Diego)

    Keyomi  |  July 31st, 2008 at 12:55 pm

  • I agree with most of what’s been said.

    I’ve been a working Mom since my son was born. At first, I didn’t have a choice about taking my son to daycare/preschool, but, once I got married… THAT’S when the driveby’s started.

    Comments about how I should stay at home with him now.

    Or that since my husband is currently (and not permanently by any means) a homemaker, I should take my child out of preschool, etc…

    Also, lots of comments about my sidework (I write technical articles and books and occasionally do speaking engagements, etc). and question how much time I spend doing it.

    Hello, my child goes to bed three hours before I do, don’t just ASSUME I’m working all the time, I KNOW what quality time is and I get it every chance I get… who are you to assume that I don’t!?

    People just don’t think about what they’re saying, obviously, or as the other posters said, they just don’t realize how much time a mother puts into deciding what is best for her children.

    (baby #2 on the way, baby #1 entering kindergarten in two weeks)

    MistressOfTheDorkness  |  July 31st, 2008 at 1:04 pm

  • Great post! What about when the drive-by goes the opposite way AND it’s from your own mother. My mom was a very driven career woman and I grew up in daycare and then as a latch key kid but I think I turned out all right.

    My career ambitions were different than hers. My husband and I own our own business and both work from home. We probably work more hours that most people who have 9-5 jobs. Our kids have not been in daycare for a couple of years but they are all in school now.

    According to my mother, since I work from home AND take care of my kids I’m apparently not living up to my potential. While visiting she made comments about how I should go back to law school and told my husband that I have beenreduced to nothing but a chauffeur.

    Just shows that drive-by comments can come from all angels.

    Jennifer  |  July 31st, 2008 at 1:30 pm

  • Very interesting blog topic. I’m a single mom, and long ago stopped doing anything but giving the mental “finger” to drive-by-ers. However, what’s missing in all these conversations about getting it all done/ work choices and their stresses/ daycare and its tradeoffs/child illness and its impact on our jobs is, as usual, the fathers. As long as this remains the mothers’ problem, mothers will continue infighting about who’s doing “it” right, while the men stay out of the fray and continue not doing “it” at all.

    Chris  |  July 31st, 2008 at 1:40 pm

  • There’s a lot that is flimsy about the working mother narrative, but, as I’m short on time, I’ll address the one aspect that I find the most glaring.

    Some of you say that you have put a lot of thought into the decision to be a working mother. No doubt. I don’t see how that reinforces the rest of your arguments or justifications. That you conscientiously decided to be a working mother chafes much more than if you had just done so without thought. Deliberately choosing that avenue, after the careful deliberation that you put into it, is probably the most disheartening dimension of all.

    MoM  |  July 31st, 2008 at 3:07 pm

  • My son is 7 months old and I have been really struggling not only drive-by-ers but my own guilty feelings. I work because we cannot afford for me not to work.. not even for a day. I wish that I had the financial ability to stay home with my son until he’s 2 but I don’t. It makes me feel like less of a mother. I’m an intellegant woman. I know that my son is going to be just fine at daycare. I know that my emotional pain about this all is mine and not my sons. My mom always stayed home and I don’t know anyone my age that is a working mother. So, I guess I’m just here to vent. Thanks for listening.

    Lacy  |  July 31st, 2008 at 3:14 pm

  • SKL: Great point about idealism and how it seems to have become less about what’s ideal and more about what’s considered “right” or “wrong.” Thank you for bringing that up!

    Robyn: Thank you for commenting and being so supportive! The comment you shared about SAHM made me think — the drive-bys I’ve experienced have been about 50-50, SAHM vs. Working moms. But I think the bottom line is similar: Sometimes, people criticize your choices in order to justify their own.

    Shannon: Great attitude! And honestly — the online commenter who suggested it would be “easier” for me to be a stay-at-home-parent probably wasn’t a parent — that is not an easy job by any stretch of the imagination!

    MistressOfTheDorkness: Congratulations on Baby #2! I think a lot of people confuse the quantity of time they’re spending with the quality of time they’re spending with their kids. Some people may think daycare is evil, but is it better for little Johnny to spend 10 hours in front of the TV with a despressed parent? Different situations call for different solutions.

    Lylah  |  July 31st, 2008 at 3:18 pm

  • MoM, could you please explain why you feel chafed and disheartened - as in, what specifically do working moms’ choices take from the world’s potential? Simply insulting us is not helpful. Indeed it seems a bit drive-by-ish.

    SKL  |  July 31st, 2008 at 3:21 pm

  • Jennifer: Ooouf, I feel for you. You’re right — drive-byes aren’t just about parenting, and they definitely can come from all angles.

    Chris: I do wonder if fathers react to drive-bys as much as mothers do, whether they brush it off as silly competitiveness (which most men are socialized to not take personally), or whether we laud men who are being good parents whereas we just expect women to. Case in point: If my husband shows up at the doctor’s office with five kids, there is much oohing and ahing and sympathy. If I do, it’s par for the course.

    MoM: Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. I appreciate your point of view, though I do need to point out one thing: the commenters and I were saying that most mothers put a lot of thought into the choices they make for their children period, not just about the fact that they’re working.

    You say that choosing to work is a disheartening choice, but it’s only fair to remind you that not everyone CHOOSES to be a working mother. Some mothers work because the HAVE to — a single mother with no other source of income or a mother who outearns her spouse, or whose family depends on her income to pay the bills, for example. It’s inaccurate to assume or imply that the majority of working mothers choose to do so because they’re bored or they don’t care to be around their kids. So the fact that ANY mother takes the time to think about what’s best for their family shouldn’t be disheartening — it’s a positive thing.

    If you have time, I’m interested in what you think is “flimsy” about the working-mom narrative. Thanks again for stopping by.

    Lylah  |  July 31st, 2008 at 3:29 pm

  • Lacy: Vent all you like — Work It, Mom is a great place for that, as many members are in the same boat. Most of my friends who are moms work part-time or are at home full time… it’s hard to find people who can relate to what you have to do, sometimes.

    Trying to make the best choices possible for your child makes you a good mother, not a bad mother. You are working to provide him with the best life you can. That is a good thing, even though it’s difficult.

    Hang in there!

    Lylah  |  July 31st, 2008 at 3:35 pm

  • Lylah, I don’t know why women make these terribly negative comments. I think they need to get a life. IMHO it comes down to being judgmental and just knowing their way is the best. I guess the best thing we can do as moms is try not to judge others. We’re all doing the best we can!

    JC  |  July 31st, 2008 at 6:07 pm

  • What I think most drive-by-ers forget, or just don’t realize, is that we ALL have different strengths and weaknesses. Much like our children, we all perform differently in different situations. Some people/kids love being in the spotlight while others would rather be ‘behind the scenes’ (or knees!). We all need different things!

    Luckily for me, my son and I mesh well in that he loves daycare and his dad and I love working (not to mention how it keeps a roof over our heads, food on the table, and a cars to travel in!)

    Our son is happy, smart, well mannered and an all around good kid. I credit a lot of that to excellent parenting all around! By me, my husband, family, and yes, the daycare teachers! They back us up and are a HUGE resource for us when we have questions or aren’t sure how to deal with something that isn’t quite working (how do you do xyz at daycare? How does he respond? How can we duplicate that at home? etc.)

    I do understand that all people want is what is best for our kids. I just wish they would remember that what is best for THEM isn’t always best for everyone else. There are so many kids out there who are in abusive and/or neglected situations that AREN’T getting the attention that they need. I suggest that anyone who feels the need to ’save a child’ to volunteer for many of the organizations to help these children. It would be a much better use of time than criticizing me for sending my son to daycare.

    Kate  |  July 31st, 2008 at 6:40 pm

  • Hi - I’m a new reader here but I had to comment.

    Oooohhh I know the drive-by. I even got nasty comments about being a working mom when my husband was a SAHD (….so we were both supposed to quit working?)

    I agree with the other commenters - the snarkieness has everything to do with how the snarker views herself and very little do do with the snark-ee.

    Now that both of my kids are in school and Dad and I are both in the workforce, I still get it for not being a SAHM, which pretty much makes me avoid the PTA meetings. I find this negative attitude about working moms so alarmingly sexist I don’t even know what to make of it. And I live in one of the most notoriously progressive cities in the US, Berkeley CA.

    rb  |  July 31st, 2008 at 9:04 pm

  • JC: Thank you for commenting, and for the great advice!

    Kate: Excellent point (what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for another) and a great suggestion for those who really want to intervene.

    rb: Thank you for reading and leaving a comment. The drive-by you got when your husband was a SAHD is just crazy… exactly, so you’re both supposed to stay home? And it also adds another layer to the problem — the implication that dads can’t parent as well as moms can.

    Lylah  |  July 31st, 2008 at 11:05 pm

  • Robyn — so your response to a drive-by of a working mom is to slam the SAHM’s with a vicious drive-by yourself?

    I wish both sides would just live and let live, and acknowledge that there are advantages and disadvantages to mom AND the chilren each way.

    SoftwareMom  |  August 1st, 2008 at 7:42 am

  • Lylah, thanks for the words of encouragement. We all get through each and every day the best that we can. I really hate the emotional roller coaster that the drive byers put us all on. At the end of the day though, if your child is growing and developing appropriately, than we’re doing the right things. So, like most of you, I sit at work trying to get as much done as I can while glancing at the many pictures of my beautiful baby 100 times a day. We’re working moms. We’ve got a lot on our plates. Lets just support eachother.

    Lacy  |  August 1st, 2008 at 8:44 am

  • Lylah, I am very impressed by your ability to not get upset by the comments you recently received. I recently started working full time again, and I have to say, I’m very happy with my choice. And I’ve also found that I’m not totally upset when I get drive-bys.

    I was actually pretty shocked by my own attitude (normally I’d be fuming, you’d think, right?) But then I realized how right this choice is for me, and how little it mattered what other people thought. After all, the only people who really care that much about what other people do or think are people who are not entirely confident about their own choices. And that goes for working moms who criticize sahms for giving up their career/independence, as well as sahms who think working moms are doing their kids a disservice.

    Lisa  |  August 1st, 2008 at 10:15 am

  • This thread (Lylah, another terrific, gracefully-stated post) has got me thinking back to some of the basic assumptions of the debate. Often comments are stated as if the perspective of the poster are based in ‘fact.’ The reality is, there are no facts when it comes to what is the ‘best’ choice for all families. In addition to being a parent who is fumbling through all of these choices and learning how to listen to my own internal voice, I’m also a psychologist whose dissertation focused on women’s vocational choices and the impact of their multiple life roles on these vocational choices(which I wrote before I was married or had kids, fyi). There is no ‘magic bullet’ research that leads to a definitive conclusion about how work and parenting should be integrated in order to result in the most well-adjusted and intelligent children. These ideas are social constructs.

    So where does that leave us? It leaves us making choices based on our hearts, economic realities, family relationships, and, yes, personal life goals. These are all relative, and will always be relative. So for me, I hope I can choose to understand where others are coming from, and own my reactions, rather than denigrating someone for choices that are different than my own, which seems to be the general perspective here.

    Thanks for interesting comments, everyone- WIM is such a great place to find support and thoughtful discussions!

    Traci  |  August 1st, 2008 at 10:19 am

  • SoftwareMom,
    No. I’m sorry you considered that quote that I used an insult. It wasn’t. It was an explanation of why some SAHMs might feel that they NEED to put down working moms. When another mom explained it that way, it really helped me understand what might be going on in the psyche of the women who judge and insult me so harshly, saying things like “You don’t even deserve to be a mother.” It gave me a perspective that allowed me to feel compassion rather than anger toward the few specific women who have been so hateful toward me. It gave me the understanding to respond in kindness, knowing that their worldview (of thinking that only SAHMs can be good moms and that WOTH moms are automatically bad moms) might be something that they need to maintain in order to feel confident in their own choices.

    Not by any means do all SAHMs feel like that, just as it is not a huge percentage of SAHMs that react in anger toward me when they find out I work. But it’s a perspective that helped me understand a possible reason behind the drive bys and I thought it might do the same for other moms here.

    I’m sure it goes both ways and that some working moms judge and criticize for the EXACT same reason: she must do so to justify her own choice to HERSELF. It just so happens that my experience has been with SAHMs.

    I’m sorry, again, that my post offended you.

    Robyn  |  August 1st, 2008 at 10:35 am

  • I have really really close friends that are stay at home moms and really close friends who are moms that work. Parenting is HARD! Period! Wonderful, but hard! Whether you are staying at home or working outside the home, or working from home. I would never be cruel to my friends and point out all the negatives of their choices, and I wouldn’t want them to do that to me. What is that thing I learned in economics class?? Scarcity Exists! Everyone is giving up something, and some people are okay with it, and some people are ANGRY - either with being a SAHM, a WAHM, or a WOHM. And, they criticize whoever has the thing that is scarce for them.

    But, at the end of a day no matter how I rationalize it - drive-bys really hurt, (I know from painful personal experience) and I feel for you all! XOXO to all of you - especially “MoM” - sounds like you need it. :)

    QueenBee  |  August 1st, 2008 at 10:36 am

  • As a single mom of 3 who works two jobs to provide for my family, I have heard just about everything. I could really get on my soapbox, but I’ll save you all from that. :-)

    We all have our own stories to tell, and none of us should judge the other. Question is - why do we, as women, have a tendency to do so? Hopefully things are changing and the generation we are raising will be more tolerant and understanding, and less critical.

    BlapherMJ  |  August 1st, 2008 at 12:24 pm

  • QueenBee got it right I think. We all make sacrafices to be where we are. We all are challenged sometimes to see the positives in our own lives without it being at the expese of someone else’s choices. I haven’t had too many drive bys since most people close to me know that financially I have to be working.
    I just still can’t understand how we as women, with all we have to fight for to get what we need, not even what we want sometimes, can be so mean to eachother. All the positive energy here and someone still has to be hurtful.

    Amelia Sprout  |  August 1st, 2008 at 1:44 pm

  • Software Mom: Good point about there being pros AND cons to all of the options. Thank you for commenting!

    Lacey: You’re welcome! “Let’s just support eachother.” Hear, hear…

    Lisa: Thank you! I have to admit, it took a while for me to be able to deal with it, and I still have my moments more often than I’d like…

    Traci: I agree, this has been a very interesting discussion. Thank you for contributing to it!

    Lylah  |  August 1st, 2008 at 1:54 pm

  • Robyn: I read your original comment as a way to better understand the drive-byes you’ve received, not a drive-by on it’s own, but now I can see how other people may have taken it in a different way. Thank you so much for taking the time to clarify so well and thoughtfully, and thank you again for being so supportive!

    QueenBee: What an excellent point about scarcity and the anger that can come with it! But what I agree with most is this, from your comment: “Parenting is HARD! Period! Wonderful, but hard!” So true!

    BlapherMJ: I wonder that myself… why does it seem to be mostly women acting like this? Is it a cultural thing? Is it hardwired in us? Is it a throwback from way back when, when women were property and society made it difficult for independent women to get by?

    Amelia Sprout: Thank you for commenting! I’m glad you’re seeing fewer drive-byes now that people better understand your situation. I hope that, as we all get a better understanding of our own and other people’s situations, we’ll all see fewer drive-byes and more support!

    Lylah  |  August 1st, 2008 at 2:01 pm

  • Robyn — thanks for the clarification. Your reply was very gracious.

    SoftwareMom  |  August 1st, 2008 at 5:04 pm

  • I caught the preschool vs. child care drive-by when I was a preschool teacher in a child care center. I used to tell people to look at the quality of the program, not the label on the door. I suspect they were giving the moms an even nastier drive-by than they gave me, the teacher.

    Daisy  |  August 1st, 2008 at 9:29 pm

  • Daisy: I am shocked that someone dared to give the teacher a drive-by! Incredible…

    Lylah  |  August 1st, 2008 at 11:02 pm

  • I have been dealing with people’s judgments from the third day my son was born. First I was unable to breastfeed and other moms judged me. Then I returned to work 8 weeks after my first child was born and people at home and at work couldn’t stop judging me. Why would I work if my husband is a pharmacist. We can live on his salary, right? When I pursue my business ideas and my children get sick, they tell me I should focus on my kids and maybe then they won’t get sick.

    The fact is this noise is all around us. Perhaps we do it too sometimes. My sister in law is a SAHM and I just don’t get how she does it. How can one live life without earning a dollar for themselves? But everyone is different right.

    We just have to learn o deal with noise, ignore it and go on as we feel is right. That’s it.

    Vera Babayeva  |  August 1st, 2008 at 11:18 pm

  • Wow. I`ve been the recipient of drive-bys in real life, but my blog so far has been safe. :S I work at home as a freelance writer and I don`t spend as much time with my boys as I would like, but I really don`t think that makes me a bad mom, as some would think.

    My in-laws feel that I should put my children in school at age 3, and have no idea why I want to homeschool them. At the same time, I don`t judge others who do decide to put their kids in school. It`s just not for me and my family. If only women could just leave off the whole criticism thing . . . being a mom is hard work no matter what the situation!

    Genesis  |  August 3rd, 2008 at 9:10 am

  • My oldest is turning 13 and I’ve always worked, so that’s how long I’ve been receiving drive-bys. I’ve even gotten them from co-workers!! (”My wife is going to stay home after the baby is born because we don’t want somebody else raising our child.”) They always sting, even if I think the statement is ridiculous, like that one. They sting because although there are many reasons why my husband and I feel that our both working is the best thing for our family, I always have some doubts. “Would it be better for my child to be at home with me today rather than going to daycare/preschool?” I will always feel a little doubt and, I guess, defensiveness simply because I love my children so much. We all do. And while in the big picture both parents working is the best choice for our family, on a day-to-day basis it is not always so. But it’s probably that way for children who are at home with their mommies, too, right?

    I really do wonder if men are the recipients of drive-bys. Would love to hear from some.

    3GirlsMom  |  August 4th, 2008 at 4:17 pm

  • Those kind of self-righteous comments from SAHMs (I heard plenty when I worked) made me hesistate to even use the phrase when I lost my job and decided to stay home. For a while I called myself “an unemployed working mom.” It’s been three years, though, so that doesn’t work any more. I don’t know why moms do that to each other. I find it’s more common online than in person, though.

    StephLove  |  August 4th, 2008 at 5:22 pm

  • I second Mir’s comment at the top about karma! Haha. That was worth a good laugh.

    Ellen Hart  |  August 5th, 2008 at 12:06 am

  • What an excellent discussion! I think the hardest are the drive-bys by well-meaning people. I recently visited a bunch of my college engineering students and their supervisors during their summer internships, and when a couple of supervisors learned that I am a mother of a 9-month-old, I heard first, “Wow, that must be so hard!” - yes, it is hard, but isn’t it hard for you to work, too?

    Invariably, I get this from older men whose wives stayed at home. These same men say, “I feel so lucky that my wife was able to stay at home” - again, I’m glad to hear that you appreciate your wife, but the implicit message is why am I not doing the same thing. One even said, “Well, maybe it’s ok for you now, but wait when they need you when they’re school-aged - it’s really hard then.” On the one hand, I don’t appreciate that line of thinking - why is this only true for me, but not for the husbands? - but the hard part is that a part of me worries that he may be right.

    I try to smile, nod, appreciate the comments and then talk about the benefits I’m giving my daughter, particularly the fact that I’m providing a model and an example for that she can make whatever choices she wishes to when she grows up. It’s all very well to tell female university students that they can do anything, and then catch them short the instant they give birth that they were fed conflicting expectations.

    Probably, I should just learn to never chitchat about family ;-).

    Sharona  |  August 8th, 2008 at 1:37 pm

  • [...] athletes who think they are most prepared are often not even in the running yet (though some are more than willing to judge anyway). Work is a separate competition, but one that affects your performance in this [...]

    If parenting was an Olympic event… - The 36-Hour Day - Work It, Mom!  |  August 18th, 2008 at 12:02 am

  • This is sort of already been said, but I wanted to say it my way. What ever choice we make we should support the choices of others. There are many reasons that we make decisions. Some people have to work, some want to work. Both of those are ok. My situation is sort of unique. I had a teaching career, but I wanted to stay home. However, I have to work. I waitress three nights a week, and have some clients I tutor. My husband I work opposite shifts to do this. It works, but it is hard some days. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to go back to teaching. I plan on going back when my children start school. I would NEVER criticize anyone for their choices of working, staying at home etc. You can be an excellent parent, regardless of what you so.
    Lylah-Thank you for the formula comment. Breastfeeding was not an option, and there are times it has made me feel bad, but I am over it. I appreciate you addressing it.

    Christine  |  October 20th, 2008 at 1:22 pm

  • [...] next week, they’re not going to get it either. Call me a bad parent, if you like — plenty of others already have — but I believe that a good, soapy hand-washing does more to prevent the spread of bacteria [...]

    Cough. Gasp. Ick. No, I’m still not getting a flu shot - The 36-Hour Day - Work It, Mom!  |  November 7th, 2008 at 1:23 pm

  • They happen all the time. I just blow them off as me being a young mom so they feel like they out rank me. I had a mom walk up to me in walmart and say your baby is cold and hungry you need to feed her. It made me so angry but i kept my calm and said Mama I just fed her and she is fully clothed. Her husband said o sweetie we have had seven kids she knows. I just said well shes mine I just fed her.

    But I love it that you call your day care a school or pre school. I work at a day care and we teach them songs, colors, clean, eat, and talk so I call it school when my little girl goes.

    Tenyia  |  February 15th, 2009 at 7:59 pm

  • I don’t understand it either but I think you are right to nicely (when you can) point out that every mother tries to do what is best for her family. I am the single mother of 2 little boys and I’ve been the baffled victim of many a drive-by comment. From my own mother, who points out that when I “chose” to be a single parent I gave up the “right” to a social life of any kind to day care centers that I interviewed who told me that any child in day care for 9 or more hours/day is a “behavior problem” so I should “consider” having a family member pick them up after 8 hours/day. I wish I had a family member that could or would! Making me feel badly for something outside of my control is practically criminal in my opinion! I try to just remind myself that I am doing the best I can.

    Cafe  |  April 2nd, 2009 at 9:02 am

  • In response to “Yesterday, I was taken to task for saying that my youngest two kids go to preschool instead of just calling it daycare.”– I actually have a friend who has been calling her child’s daycare “School” since she began attending, at about 5 months. This actually drives me crazy, although I have never criticized her for it.

    This makes me think that she feels bad about her decision to have her child in daycare therefore by calling it school it makes it ok. I think behavior like this perpetuates guilt moms might have if they do not stay at home. I wonder why moms can’t just be honest with themselves. Daycare is daycare and preschool is preschool. Both are wonderful

    My little one goes to a daycare a couple mornings and the older one goes to preschool a couple mornings. Trust me, they are different programs, and both are valuable.

    Michele  |  May 25th, 2009 at 10:28 am

  • I’ve had women I thought were my friends do the mommy drive-by thing. One suggested that her daughter did everything earlier than my daughter (such as suck from a straw) because she stays home with her daughter, while I dump mine off at daycare. Never mind that my daughter, according to her doctor, is advanced in her motor skills. Another “friend” suggested that my 9-year-old is overly talkative because I don’t give him enough attention because he is in before- and after-school care. To top it all off, these so-called friends have turned on me, leaving me out of their exclusive stay-at-home mom club. Which leaves me to wonder, why were we ever “friends” in the first place?

    Lisa  |  July 8th, 2009 at 2:07 pm

  • After reading all of these comments I’m so grateful my husband and I have received nothing but support from our family, friends, and co-workers. I cherish having people around me with a variety of experiences/situations, whenever I have a question I’m able to get many different insights. I really feel like instead of competing with each other we are able to help each other instead.

    NewMom  |  August 20th, 2009 at 10:53 pm

  • I haven’t had to deal with this in a while. People used to say things to me when he was a baby and at that point, I just shrugged them off and kept moving. None of my friends have ever said anything to me about his being in preschool - which really is a preschool by the state of FL and very different from the daycares - but of course, all of my good friends work except one. The one that doesn’t work doesn’t say anything to me either. My husbands sister-in-law had confronted me one week before he started but that’s another story and my husband has my back on this issue and she doesn’t live in this state so really, who cares what she thinks.

    The honest truth is that these people have nothing better to do with their time and most likely are jealous that you have retained some of your former life. I really believe that these people have noting else to do with their time and its very sad. I would tell them our favorite saying at work, “If you have nothing to do, don’t do it with me.”

    Oceans Mom  |  September 8th, 2009 at 4:10 pm

  • My sons are 21, 20 and 12. The first was born when I was almost 32 and I LOVED my career. I realised pretty quickly that I’d go insane if I stayed home (which wouldn’t work for either of us), so by the time he was 5 months (and I was 2 months pregnant with my second son), I was back working part-time, and Alex was in childcare part-time. Once my second son was born, I hired a nanny/cleaner and I worked about three days a week. Alex and Iain (second son), are independent, smart, loving, outgoing, funny and kind adults and I don’t believe for a second that they’ve been in any way harmed by the fact that I needed my career for my sanity and self-esteem (and the money didn’t hurt). The 12 year old was born when I was 40, and I suddenly realised that I actually wanted to stay home, so I began working from home (working is part of my persona, I can’t imagine being completely financially or in any other way dependent on another person). However, he still went to childcare two days a week so that I could have those days for myself (which often meant shopping or other chores which I found easier to do alone). I love my sons and I believe they love me, and there isn’t only one right way to achieve that. Don’t you fret about those wretched mothers who think theirs is the only way - I believe they attack mothers whose methods and lifestyles differ from theirs out of insecurity about the wisdom of their own decisions. Lots of luck to you and yours, and don’t let your little drama queen rule your life! As her teacher pointed out, she’ll be fine. All the best - Cath

    Cath Gillespie  |  September 24th, 2009 at 8:48 pm

  • My mother was a working mom. I turned out just fine I have a full time job which I work hard at. All you have to do is mke sure you children know right from wrong and to respect their elders. Daycare and preschool are great for kids it helps them to make friends and build much needed social skills.

    Matt  |  February 12th, 2010 at 9:35 am

  • I work because we need the income. I choose to work because it makes me a better mom. Since my boys were tiny I let them know that I work because I like it. I enjoy my time with them but I probably wouldn’t be a nice mommy if I were home 24/7. At 11 & 12, they agree. I have to hand it to moms who stay home….it’s just not for me. When will woman stop being so catty and realize what works for one family, doesn’t necessarily work in another?

    mama2boyz  |  February 16th, 2010 at 10:25 am

  • I have a daughter who became 1 year old on Feb. 6th and i definetly know what it feels like when somebody just comes up and starts judging my decisions.
    I dont know why these ppl think they might be able to care about my daughter more than i do. I really get mad when this happens, none of them know how hardit is to leave your child every day and go to work, nobody has the right to interfere in anybodys life or decisions , especially when its about their kids!! If they think they can do better, then let them raise their own kids and mind their own business away from my life!!

    Ama  |  February 17th, 2010 at 8:57 am

  • I am so glad to know I’m not the only one who gets the drive-byes. I got slammed online by multiple people one time. I am a single mom and I had posted in one section on the forum that my son was having bad attitudes and I couldnt figure out why. Well then a couple days later I had posted I want another child. I don’t want my son being an only child.

    The only thing people could see was that I couldnt control my child but wanted another. I actually had someone tell me to learn to control my son before having more and that maybe I should never have more. I cried when they posted all of this.

    Thank you for your blog

    Tristin  |  April 13th, 2010 at 10:22 pm

  • Don’t think that women without kids are immune to the “mommy drive-bys.” If you choose *not* to have kids, you get just as many judgmental comments about that decision as you do about the decision to be a working mom. In fact, it seems like these days, pretty much any decision you make about marriage and child-rearing is open to criticism. If you decide to have a child without being married, you’re irresponsible; if you decide to marry and not have children, you’re selfish; if you decide to work while raising your kids, you’re a bad mother; if you decide to stay home with them, you’re giving up your own life. And if you’re over 30 and still single and childless, well, when *are* you going get married and have kids? Your biological clock is ticking, you know! And what raises all this from merely annoying to downright infuriating is that men never seem to be subject to any of these comments. How come no one ever tells working dads that they’re being irresponsible, or childless men that they’re selfish? Why are all these comments directed at women (and for the most part, by other women)?

    haverwench  |  August 15th, 2010 at 10:49 am

  • I just ask to see their Ph.D. in Child Psychology or their M.D. specializing in Pediatrics. When they can’t produce either, I smile and say, “That’s what I thought”.

    Emilie  |  May 8th, 2011 at 7:01 pm

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