Last weekend my husband and I watched the movie What to Expect When You’re Expecting. Undeniably crass. Completely hilarious.
One of our favorite parts of the film was the “Dude’s Group:” a Saturday morning get-together of fathers with strollers, diaper bags, Baby Bjorns, and toddlers all in tow. The #1 rule of Dudes Group is “what is said in the group stays in the group” with rule #2 being a close follow up: “NO judging.”
The dads of Dudes Group appreciated – in fact needed – a place where they could safely “air their parenting laundry” so to speak. They needed a place to share the fact they’d found their kid swimming in the toilet bowl, or picked up the wrong child from preschool. In Dude’s Group they could share these things without feeling judged; without comparing themselves to each other and wishing they were a better parent. This was a place where they could just “be” and be together.
I walked away from the film wishing that every mother – particularly young and new moms – could find a group of women to be their “Dude’s Group.” It’s so easy for young moms to compare themselves and their parenting styles to more mature, more seasoned mothers. “Mom Guilt” is a familiar companion to young women who find unsolicited advice, scoldings, or judgmentalism from other women who have a different style, philosophy or approach to parenting.
Every Mama needs a circle of friends with Dude’s Group rules: No judging. No gossiping. No criticizing or pontificating. Just accepting and supporting and holding each other up in the most difficult job a woman can ever undertake.
I’m profoundly grateful to have girlfriends and sisters I can trust enough to air my own “parenting laundry” without the worry of judgmentalism coming back to bite me. And because I’m a mom with a LOT of room for growth in my parenting skills, the Dude’s Group philosophy amongst my close friends is a lifesaver for me.
Just last week my toddler escaped from his seat in the double jogging stroller parked in our driveway (I walked back in the house for less than 60 seconds to turn off the lights and fans and lock the back door for our run) and pushed his Little Tikes car an 8th of a mile down our street. (OF COURSE it happened at 8:15am when every neighbor on our street was outside walking their children to the bus stop, and could watch me flying down the block after my son. Thank you Lord for an increase in humility.)
I was grateful that I had a friend I could text in my near state of panic and wail that I’m the world’s worst mother… It was so reassuring to have an instantaneous reply sharing one of her own motherhood faux pas so we could commiserate at our normalness and ineptness together.
Or two days later, in the Target parking lot, I was buckling Mark into his car seat and didn’t notice that the shopping cart I had parked behind my car containing our groceries and MY BABY had started slowly rolling down the hilly parking lot. Only the high pitched screams of an Asian college girl in skinny jeans and 5″ wedgies running after my baby pulled me up from my task to see what the commotion was. Oh yes. That’s my unattended infant rolling through a mega-store parking lot. In the rain. (The Hubs should fire me right now, I agree!)
We try our best but even the best of us have our share of parenting laundry that just keeps piling up. I didn’t mean for my toddler to fall down a full flight of stairs. I didn’t want that same child to eat bird poop off our back deck. I didn’t mean for Luke to eat yellow and green Playdough last night (sitting in my own lap!) while Mark and I were forming doggies out of the purple and blue doughs. It just happens. Life happens.
And when it does, it’s so important to have a Dude’s Group who can hold you up and “one up” you with a crazier, zanier, more terrifying motherhood experience she’s lived through.
So. As of this moment, I’m recruiting all of you, my faithful Blog readers, into my Dude’s Group. That means I’m holding you to Rule #1 and Rule #2. And don’t you forget it neither! 😉