MANY years ago, I went to Adelphi University on Long Island. I was part of the Honors College. It was a small group of students. I think there were about 75 kids in my year. So, everyone knew everyone, and the Dean certainly knew everyone.
One day shortly after my second semester started, I was sitting with two of my girlfriends in the Honors College lounge, drinking coffee and probably waiting for our next class to begin. We were just chatting when he came up to us. He congratulated my two friends on their grades in their first semester of college. He didn’t even acknowledge me.
I already knew that my two friends had earned all A’s because we had, of course, talked about it. I had earned all A’s and one A-. I’m pretty sure that the A- was in Spanish, and I honestly probably deserved a lot lower than that.
I immediately figured out what was going on. The Dean was making it his business to congratulate all those with 4.0s. Anything less than that, didn’t earn his time.
Looking back, I feel like this could have had a number of effects on me. It could have made me resent my friends. It could have made me insanely competitive. It could have made me want to work harder to earn the Dean’s praise (although I guess I was already ruined with my A-). It could have made me slack off, thinking what was the point?
But it didn’t have any impact on how I studied at all. I thought it was absolutely hilarious and my friends did too. I just kept doing my thing.
Impressing the Dean was just never something I cared to do. Neither was completing with my friends.
My friends and I usually studied together, helped each other, shared each other’s notes, and edited each other’s papers. We got each other coffee and reminded each other to rest. We helped each other out as much as we could and we celebrated whenever one of us got a good grade. We were in it together.
And I was just thinking about this the other day as I was driving and relating it to motherhood. No matter how hard you work, no matter how hard you try, someone will always find something wrong with what you’re doing.
No matter what you do, you could always second guess yourself. Someone can always find something to say (or not say, in my Dean’s case).
Whether you work or stay home, breastfeed or formula feed, breastfeed for 6 months or 3 years, put your kid in daycare or get a nanny ….. you can spend hours wondering if you’re doing it right. And I absolutely do.
And these are just the beginning years. The decisions are going to get a lot more complicated and nuanced as our kids get older.
So if you’re reading this, whether you are a parent or not, I hope that you will just do the best you can. Don’t worry about what anyone else is doing. Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks.
I’m lucky to have mom friends like the friends I have in college, the kinds of friends that cheer you on and support you, whether or not they are making similar decisions as you. I have friends that work and friends that stay home, friends whose kids watch TV all day and friends who don’t let their kids anywhere near it. I have friends who breastfeed and friends who formula feed.
I think that it’s our differences that help us help each other. My friends with different experiences than me have different ideas and suggestions for how to make things work, things I might not have thought of. My friends who work often ask me for ideas for activities to do when they are home with their kids on a cold or rainy day. I love the ways we support each other.
I love my village and I love seeing women support and encourage each other. We are making the absolute best decisions we we can and we love our kids with absolutely everything we have.
We’re in it together.