The other day, I was sitting in a coffee shop and the women next to me were trash talking some poor mom for feeding her a kid a hot dog.
I didn’t mean to eavesdrop, but they weren’t exactly quiet about it. “Can you believe that Susie actually gave Henry a hot dog for lunch? It was PORK. And, she didn’t even cut it into little, teeny, tiny pieces!” The horror!
They tore this mother’s parenting apart based on what she fed her kid for lunch.
Later that day, another mom publicly shamed another for her choice of babysitter, how much she pays her, and how often she and her husband go out on dates. I was mortified for the mom that was the subject of this rant. She was asking for help and instead of being supported, she was mom-shamed and judged.
These two incidents (on the same day no less) begged me to ask the question:
When will the mom shaming stop?
The thing about it is that being a mom is the single hardest thing that I will ever do in my lifetime.
Every single day I question if I am doing the right thing. I wonder if my kids will be in therapy some day for something that I said or did. Some days I feel like I do a good job and others I cry myself to sleep convinced that I screwed up royally. I lie in bed at night and replay the day over and over again in my mind thinking how I could have done it differently.
I have certainly fed my kids hot dogs (in fact, we had them for lunch today), and I have also used babysitters that I overpaid because I was desperate for a night out (or two in a row). And that is the just the tip of the iceberg. In all honesty, I didn’t even think that these things qualified as offensives in mom world.
The truth of the matter, I am just doing the best that I can and hoping for the best. Aren’t we all?
I don’t care who you are – I know that if you have children then our struggle is the same. We have all had sleepless nights, been puked on, made rash decisions, lashed out when we didn’t mean to, wanted to run away, and fed our kids ice cream for breakfast because it was the healthiest thing that we could find that particular morning. And that’s just off the top of my head.
Instead of supporting and loving our fellow comrades in the game of motherhood, why do we think that it is okay to judge other mothers?
We all have different beliefs and opinions about how to mother best. Our kids are all different and have different needs. What works for you might not work for me or my kid. My values may be different and I might not care so much about things that you do. And we all know that we can do it better than you, even though we have no idea about what your life is really like.
My real fear is that with all of this mom shaming going on, the mom that needs a babysitter or really needs help and support will be afraid to ask for it, knowing that her “friends” will be judging her.
Maybe she is having a rough time. Or maybe is feeling like she can’t manage on her own. Maybe she really knows that going for a run or working out while her babysitter is there is going to help her get through the day and be a happier person. Maybe she is feeling isolated and scared. Maybe, just maybe, she really just needs a friend to turn to.
I have been very open about my struggle with postpartum depression, weight, and juggling motherhood. If it wasn’t for the circle of friends in my life, I don’t know if I would have made it out the other side. If I thought that I couldn’t open up to them without being judged or shamed, I’m not sure what I would have done.
When I became a mom, I really thought that I was entering a sisterhood – a group of women that supported and encouraged each other, but the reality is often disappointing. I find that more times than not, we use motherhood as a place to compare and compete.
The thing is that it isn’t a game. And no one wins or loses. We are all trying to accomplish the same thing. Raise kids that feel loved, and that we are proud to call our own. It’s as simple as that.
I am sure that I have shamed or judged someone, and I am sincerely apologizing to you if I have. I’m asking you now to keep your judgement and mom shame to yourself. I know that we all think that we can do it better than the next girl, but she is just doing the best that she can. Just the same as you. We really are all in this together.