"How sad, her twins will never have a full life."
"She must be overwhelmed."
"You just need to teach your children to fear you and then this wouldn't be a problem."
"I never spend a day at home, you need to show your children the world."
As I woke up one Saturday morning, scrolling Facebook for the first time in weeks, I came to immediately regret it. I'd purposely been digitally detoxing. It made me happier, less stressed and more present. But here I was, the only one awake in the house and I decided to log on.
That was my first mistake.
My second mistake was reading the comments on an old article I wrote for Twiniversity that they had recently reposted. It was a humor piece on how I cope with twin toddlers and what strategies I use to go out alone in public with them.
Normally, I find twin moms to be very supportive of one another. I've always gotten great feedback from my posts and end up hugging total strangers in Costco after we bond over our twinado stories. But not this time. This time I was being attacked, and it hurt.
I thought of all the things I would say. How I would explain that at the time I wrote this one of my daughters was being rushed between specialist to specialist trying to figure out why she couldn't walk, so yes I was overwhelmed.
Or that I've taken my daughters to DC all by myself so how dare they accuse me of not letting them see the world.
Or taking the southern route and replying with "bless your heart," which we all know is code for $#@% off.
As I processed how cruel total strangers could be to me, it hit me. How often have I done this to a friend? Assumed the worst when I didn't receive a reply. Or shake my head thinking, I would never do that as a parent.
I've done this to loved ones more often than I care to admit. And I've definitely privately been frustrated with total strangers on the internet during election seasons.
I'm not blameless. Instead, I realized that this is part of the problem when we compare ourselves to others rather than empower one another. We start to feel threatened. We feel the need to boost ourselves up just a bit so that we don't feel as guilty for all our shortcomings. So we attack. We compare. We envy. We use others to hide our insecurities.
I often feel the weight of raising daughters. What happens if the mean girls turn on them? Will they feel pressured into looking or acting a certain way when they get to middle school? What happens when they face an inevitable #metoo moment? How do I raise girls that champion one another? And so forth.
With the recent focus on mental health and horrible headlines of heroes that have left us too soon, I recognize my propensity toward anxiety. Toward perfection. And I want to break the chain. I want to be the mom lifting up all those around me. Not gossiping. Not masking my insecurities. Not afraid of cheering others on.
But sometimes I slip. Sometimes I go down a ridiculous rabbit trail. Have my girls noticed this? Do they know how important it is to be brave and loving and kind? Can I raise them to be world changers without putting the pressure of expectations on them? Can we just start over and all be kind to one another?
And there it goes. My tendency to try to control and make everything tidy again.
So I decided to sit down and write this morning. Despite a mounting to-do list, I needed to exhale my worries and realize that one strangers cruel words are just an attempt for her to feel like a good mom. And she is. She's a great mom. She's working hard and taking twin toddlers out in public. You go momma.
But you know what? It's also okay to stay home. It's also okay to feed your kids chicken nuggets or organic green smoothies. It's all okay. What matters is that we love one another the best we can and assume the good, not the ugly.