Yes, mom-shaming is a thing. And yes, it might be a little bit out of control.
But maybe not in the way you might think.
I’ve been a mother for four years now.
And in that time, I’ve seen moms shame other moms for everything under the sun. But then I’ve also seen the same moms who were mom-shamed start mom-shaming those other mamas right back. Did you get all that? Because that’s a whole lot of shame.
We’re not all the same. We don’t all like the same food. We have different favorite drinks. Some of us are homebodies and some of us are social butterflies (or vultures, depending on who you are). Some of us are beach babes. Others are mountain chicks. Some of us wear makeup and some of us don’t. The point is, we don’t even all pick the same kind of gum, why on earth do we think we would all pick the same way to parent?
When mom-shaming first came on my radar, it went kind of like this:
A “snobby” mom who would only feed her kids organic food, nothing processed, no refined sugar, thought formula to be sub-par, made her own baby food, etc. etc. (I think you get the point) would mom-shame a mother who didn’t do all those things, and make her feel like she wasn’t as good of a mom because she “obviously” didn’t care about her kid’s wellbeing.
That was complete BS, of course. Still is.
But not every mother who feeds her kid organic was like that then and they aren’t all like that now. Some does not equal all. I feed my kids organic. I don’t judge you for not.
Now I see mothers shame other moms for doing all those same things I listed above.
“Oh you feed your kid organic?……Cool, we go to McDonald's.”
That kind of thing.
“You breastfed your kid?……Yeah, I hated it. I wanted to have a life.”
Hand me some aloe because that was a burn.
It’s almost like I’m witnessing a contest to see who can be the coolest, most laid-back, IDGAF Mom out there. And that’s such a weird title to vie for.
And here’s the thing. These moms are just as bad as the original “holier than thou” mom-shaming mamas.
Both are still mom-shaming other mothers.
And both should be ashamed.
I fall somewhere in the middle of those two mama caricatures. Yes, I want the absolute best for my kids. I want to feed them the best, I want to nourish their growing little bodies, and I don’t want them stuffed with hormones or fillers or antibiotics (from the food they consume or from their doctors). But I also love Chick-fil-A (and they do, too), I vaccinate, I always want the antibiotic for backup in case we can’t kick whatever it is. I’m currently worried my kids are getting way too much sugar even though I offer them a treat after each meal.
We don’t drink juice. I buy the expensive milk. We go to Krispy Kreme and Dunkin’ Donuts. We eat mac & cheese and ice cream some nights, and a meat and two veggies and a grain other nights.
In short, I do the best I can. I don’t think I do it perfectly. I know I don’t. And I am learning every day. I’m learning how to better care for my kids. Learning what is good and bad for them. Learning what matters and what doesn’t in the big scheme of things. And I’ll never stop.
I don’t want to be made to feel bad for any of it.
It doesn’t make you a superior mom just because you only buy — and can afford to only buy — the “healthiest food” for your kids.
And it doesn’t make you a cool mom to not give a shit about their food either.
And if you boast about either of those things, it just makes you a mean mom.
While we’re at it, there’s a hugely important factor in surviving motherhood. And that’s a sense of humor. I’m not sure how you could be a parent without it. In fact, I think the quickest way to find a sense of humor is probably to have kids. Parenthood elevates you and humbles the hell out of you all at once.
But, having a sense of humor and making fun of other moms and how they parent are not the same thing. Don’t get those two confused.
Laughing together about the absolute insanity of raising little beings is one thing. Laughing at parents who do it differently than you is another.
Mom-shaming a mother for caring too much is every bit as bad as shaming a mom for caring too little.
It’s like there is this popular breed of mom right now that is non-judgy in a way that makes them judgy.
Hating a hater doesn’t make you a lover.
Bullying a bully doesn’t make you a good person.
And mom-shaming a mom-shamer doesn’t make you a better mom.
A double negative might make a positive in math, but this is real life. And it doesn’t work that way.
I don’t want to be mom-shamed for letting my kids have too much sugar.
Or for not letting them have juice.
And I don’t want to be mom-shamed for only buying organic.
I don’t want to be mom-shamed for breastfeeding my children for 18 months and 14 months.
And I don’t want to be mom-shamed for loving breastfeeding.
I don’t want to be mom-shamed for going on date nights and having babysitters regularly.
I don’t want to be mom-shamed for being a stay at home mom.
And I don’t want to be mom-shamed for not letting my kids sleep in my bed.
Or for holding them for a three-hour nap when they beg me to stay.
Don’t mom-shame me for being religious about nap time. That time is sacred and saves me from mom burnout.
And stop mom-shaming me for identifying most as a mother. Of course I freaking identify as a mother. It’s my heart + life + job + responsibilities + world rolled into one. How could it not define me?
Stop mom-shaming me for traveling and leaving my kids at home. Or for being too scared to fly and leave them behind. I’ve done both.
Or for being too enthusiastic or caring too much about something in my kid’s life.
Don’t mom-shame me for potty-training my kid later than you think I should.
And don’t mom-shame me for letting my kids play with the phone at the table after they’ve finished eating and we still haven’t gotten our entrees.
Or for not letting them play with the phone. I get to make those decisions. Me.
And no more mom-shaming for not volunteering for every single thing at my child’s school or for not wanting to be in charge. I want my time and energy to go toward my own kids above anything else. I’m selfish that way.
I don’t want to be mom-shamed for loving motherhood. And I mean really, truly, unabashedly loving it. Yes I still have a life outside of motherhood. But my favorite part of my life is motherhood. No shame in my mama game.
I don’t want to be mom-shamed for worrying too much about my children.
Or for watching them too closely on the playground and creeping on total helicopter status.
Or for okaying a piece of candy that my child choked on. (Yes, this happened, it was my fault, and the most terrifying moment of my life.)
And definitely don’t mom-shame me for kissing their boo-boos. I have a select number of years that they will even let me do this. If they want me to kiss their boo-boo you bet your ass I’m going to smother them with kisses and make it all better. Because I can. Because at this point in their little lives mama can fix it. And while I can fix it, I’m going to fix it. Yes, I know they’re all right. You really think I don’t know when my kids are okay and when they’re not? It doesn’t matter to me if “it’s just a scratch” — I’ve probably got 10 years tops of kissing boo-boos. I’ll kiss every one I can. My child can still be brave and tough and want Mama to kiss his boo-boo.
So, stop mom-shaming me for making my kids too soft.
Or for making them too hard. For not believing in tough love. Or for being stricter than you think I should be.
(Oh, and for the record: When someone says the whole “The days are long but the years are short” thing to you, they’re not mom-shaming you. They’re giving you some solidarity and perspective. Take it.)