On the playgrounds, at the local Target, in your schools – nowhere feels safe. Mommy-shamers and internet trolls are watching, lurking, and judging. These shamers come for both regular and celebrity moms. The Kardashian sisters are particularly popular. Moms blasted Kourtney Kardashian because her son, Reign, wears his hair long. They bad-mouthed Khloe Kardashian when her infant daughter, True, was photographed playing in an ultra-expensive Birkin bag. Kim Kardashian let her oldest daughter, North, wear lipstick for holiday family photos, and the trolls unleased their fury. Then there was Carrie Underwood who was roasted for wearing a full face of makeup at her son’s soccer game.
Really, mommas! We have got to do better. STOP IT!
It’s Happened to Me, Too
I, too, have been the victim of mommy shaming. Several years ago, while still over the moon at the birth of my first daughter, my husband and I were chatting with friends after church. Bailey cooed and smiled, adorable in a cute orange striped onesie. An older woman slid next to me, looked me square in my face, and said, “Put that baby girl in some pink” and then walked off. I was stunned. First, who says girls can only wear pink – pffttt. Second, unless you are paying for my children’s clothes your opinion is of no consequence to me so keep it to yourself! Third, why do you even care? Did my color choice for my baby’s onesie have some profound impact on your life?
There have been other shaming encounters. Moms horrified that I only took 6 weeks of maternity leave before sending my babies to daycare or challenging my decision to supplement breast milk with formula. Quite simply, I had to return to work, and I was unable to keep up with the demands of pumping in between seeing patients on my full clinic days. Dr. Leesha had to do what was going to work best for her and her family.
A Little Transparency
If we’re being truthful, I suspect we, mamas, have been on both sides, the shamed and the shamers. It’s easy to pass judgment when we see a mom, eyes glued to her phone, as she scrolls through Instagram or Facebook while her child plays alone on the playground or when she gives into her child’s tantrum and buys the toy. We give those moms the side eye and question her decisions, but here’s the truth. Parenting is hard.
Like Gretchen Rubin said, “the days are long, but the years are short.” Yet, some days I can’t even get past the days are long part! The are no shifts, few breaks, and no paid vacations. We play so many roles from personal stylist, chef, tutor, and chauffer to cheerleader, mediator, and referee. Expressions of gratitude for the work of parenting often come later after our children become parents themselves though we do get slobbery kisses, tender “I love you’ s,” and a few “thank you’ s” intermingled. But IT’S SO HARD! Sometimes we are honestly doing the best we can with what we have. Our internal mommy resources run low. We are overloaded and overwhelmed. We tap out. You only see the moment I gave in, but you missed the 45-minute battle earlier that day or the prolonged fight to establish a reasonable bedtime the night before – both of which left me utterly exhausted.
My Charge – Be Kind to Other Mommies
Parenting is hard! No mom makes it her life goal to suck at parenting, but children don’t come with instruction manuals. There are no magical mommy downloads to our brains when we start our families. While there are literally tens of thousands of parenting books, there is no one book specific to your family’s makeup and requirements. Those things change anyway. We learn “on the job” through our real-life, lived experiences. The true beauty of parenting and motherhood is that we grow and evolve over time. Our needs change, our perspectives changes, our relationships with our children change, and our goals for our families change. Mommies are different too – first time vs. seasoned, one child vs. many, single parent vs. married vs. divorced, stay at home vs. working outside the home, etc. The point is we are all trying to do our best to raise happy, healthy children without compromising our sanity or losing ourselves along the way. And we all have a few tips and suggestions we can share, things we have gleaned that have made parenting easier or harder.
Instead of judging and criticizing, let’s uplift and encourage one another. Mamas need a safe space, a judgment-free zone, where we can ask the silly and tough questions without fear of reproach. Reach out to a mom and check on her. Share a smile. Lend a hand or deliver a piece of solid advice when you see a mom who is struggling. Be kind to other mommies. We need each other, and our children need healthy moms.