This weekend my 6th profile was shut down and I have been unable to participate in the private group or answer messages. For some of you, this will be great news, met with cheers, you’ve done it! You’ve taken down Sanctimommy! Way to go you badass! But for the more than 20,000 of you who enjoy cracking wise with me, and venting about our kids, this is frustrating. And disappointing. For those people I’d like to talk about how and why I created this page and what my goal here is.
Being a new mom is disorienting. No matter how you planned to parent or what your life was like pre-baby, everything will turn out differently than you imagined. My partner and I struggled with infertility for several years, we lost 3 pregnancies in that time and I became obsessed with the idea of myself as a mother. What would I be like? Well, for starters I wouldn’t be like those lazy moms with dirty kids and messy hair. Of course I’d have one of those orgasmic natural births, right? And breastfeed exclusively. Oh, and we’d have lots of time for crafts and cloth diapering. Maybe I’d start one of those work at home mom businesses and even sell cloth diapers! And wooden rattles!
I imagined I’d have one of those fierce hilarious mom posses you see in the movies. We’d drink decaf tea at the all-organic waldorf playroom and talk about our feelings. I’d feel comfortable calling these women in the middle of the night if the baby had a fever or a weird rash and we’d collectively decide which essential oils would be most effective. If one of us got sick we’d all bring them a meal. We’d take turns babysitting each other’s kids and of course all the kids would love us and never fuss when left in our care.
This was the motherhood I spent years building in my grief.
I was very hard on moms I saw struggling in grocery stores, at parks. I judged them and their formula bottles. I would do better.
When I had my first baby everything changed in an almost comically formulaic way. I know most of you will be familiar with this because it’s why you found my page, why you liked it. Your story is probably somewhat similar. Post dates, long exhausting induction that didn’t work, milk that didn’t come in for several days because you were so goddamn tired and stressed and shell-shocked. Forget that adorable little nursing nightie you packed, just buy the fucking Depends and give up a little more of your pride. In a few weeks when you have to talk to a lactation specialist about your bloody nipples the word “pride” won’t even register anymore. Baby’s not gaining weight and cries ALL.THE.TIME and you have to supplement with formula. You call friends you used to have and they’re completely bewildered about why you’re so panicky over this and can’t you hire a babysitter and come take a night out?
Forget the mom posse. You post in your breastfeeding group and get torn a new one about supplementing. You post about your kid’s reaction to the DTAP and get blamed for poisoning him. Why don’t you just let him cry it out? Why don’t you try this expensive homeopathic? Why don’t you put a little cereal in his bottle? Why are you destroying his virgin gut?! It feels like everyone knows how to do this but you. You are failing at the life you imagined for yourself.
Maybe you go back to work (and abandon your children?!) or maybe you settle into a routine and find a few friends (lazy stay at home moms like you). Maybe you start to feel like you can do this. Or maybe you struggle. When your doctor gently mentions postpartum depression you have finally hit the bottom. Where are the mom friends who can bring over dinner and talk you through this? They’re judging you for medicating yourself when there are so many omega 3s and essential oils that can help!
Every mom has a story like yours, no matter what they say. I feel so guilty for every mom I judged when she talked about cry-it-out or snapped at her toddler in Target. I had no idea who she was or what she’d gone through that day, that week. I don’t know her kid as well as she does. Her decisions are her own and weren’t reached lightly. I know that now.
In a lot of ways I started writing Sanctimommy as penance. I was lonely and I couldn’t figure out how to forgive myself for not being the mom I thought I would be, for not having the life I thought I would have. In the beginning a lot of the statuses hit close to home for me too, but it was like therapy mocking all the things I blamed myself for! It was liberating!
Eventually I found my mom friends, women who laughed with me as much as they cried with me. Who detested the judgement and the meanness just as much as I did. Some of us had homebirths and made placenta smoothies, some of us opted for a Csection, some of us breastfed and some didn’t, some vaxed and some didn’t. And for some reason we never even talked about these things. We complained about our partners and swapped crock pot recipes like normal people and not activists. I am not an activist.
I never wanted to be an internet “celebrity” or gain a following. I have no plans to “cash in” on this endeavor. I don’t care how you raise your kids. My goal, from the very beginning, was to joke with my friends and learn to not take ourselves so seriously. When you report me or talk about how I destroyed your private group you’re assuming that I have some substantial internet power that I just don’t have. There are 15,000 in the private group (which by the way, I have very little involvement in) and 20,000 on the page. I get hundreds of submissions, some provide context, some don’t, some are funny, some aren’t. How do we decide what to put on the main page? There’s no formula; if it makes us laugh, if it strikes a nerve, if it’s something we’ve been told by the sanctimommies in our own lives, we generally want to poke fun at it.
I don’t operate under an alternate profile because I’m afraid of being “outed” or ashamed of what we do here. I use an alt for two reasons: my real personal account has gotten a facebook time out and been in danger of deactivation because hundreds of moms report me for “bullying” when they didn’t understand the page, and because from the very beginning I have gotten real threats from people. I remember the first time someone threatened to find me and circumcise me, I remember the first time someone said they wanted to “light my face on fire and stab it out with a fork”.
And maybe they’re kidding! but… maybe they’re not.
If you spend any time chatting with me here or in the private group you find out pretty quickly who I am because I’m not very interested in hiding. It’s sort of an open secret. And in spite of claims that I’m “hiding” among my “crunchy” friends in real life, everyone who knows me personally knows I write this page. I talk about it all the time. Several of my car seat tech friends and doula friends and IBCLC friends even suggest status updates for the wall. After all, no matter what parenting methodology you follow, you’re going to be the subject of some mean spirited advice dashed with a bit of haunty judgement. That’s modern motherhood.
This is a long note, thank you for bearing with me. I’m happy to answer questions in the comments, but inflammatory and offensive commentary will simply be removed. I’ll be the villain you want to blame the mom wars on, sure, but I don’t have time to field your personal dramatics.
To the hundreds of you who have been with me, who’ve scrolled through in the middle of the night to laugh so you don’t cry: Thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for being my fierce hilarious mom posse. I don’t take your participation here for granted.