“Having kids – the responsibility of rearing good, kind, ethical, responsible human beings – is the biggest job anyone can embark on.” – Maria Shriver
Being a mother is one of the most rewarding things a woman can ever experience. It is also one of the hardest things we go through in life as well. From the time we learn that we are carrying a life inside of us until the moment we see them face to face, there is a constant worry. If that isn’t enough, we worry even more once they are here because we never know if we are doing the right thing, and may constantly question and second guess every decision we make for them. When I was pregnant with my youngest, eleven years after the first I was nervous. I was older, I’d experienced some health issues that I hadn’t with my first child and was not sure how it would affect my pregnancy. I decided to join an expectant mom’s group for the month that my baby was due. Let me tell you about this group – they are some amazing women from different backgrounds of different ages, and our kids – who were not even born yet is what brought us all together. Six years later and we still communicate, send gifts, letters, texts, birthday cards, and support even when our own families don’t. This is a true example of a support group.
Not everyone is lucky to find such an amazing and diverse group of women. We don’t “mom shame” either. Speaking with someone today made me realize how often people, women, mom shame without even realizing what they are doing. I’ve noticed in this “social media” age, mom shaming is much more prevalent than it once was. Or is it just more accessible? What is mom shaming? It is when a fellow mom criticizes, degrades, or gives their unsolicited advice to another mom for her choices in parenting because that’s not “how they would do it.” Sometimes it may be a friend who comes over to the house and decides that what you feed your child is unacceptable, how you handle your child is unacceptable, or you should just do it like they do it. It can even be someone who knows not one thing about you – a complete stranger. Our society has created ideas and certain norms for how parents should parent, but no one knows that except you. You know your child better than anyone else because they were once that little bean growing inside of you. The only person who knows what your heartbeat sounds like from the inside. In essence, an extension of you.
This is a plea to mom’s everywhere, let’s stop mom shaming. We have to band together and support the differences that make us unique and make our children unique. If we all raised our children the same, we would be raising an army of robots with no ability to independently think. What you think is problematic may be the perfect solution for me and vice versa. As I said earlier, we start this job already in a state of constant and instantaneous worry – why would you, as another mother, want to put someone through that headspace where they’re once again questioning their choices. My hope is that we could all band together and create a “Universal Mom’s Group.” Our slogan would be, “Birth may be pain, but we don’t mom – shame!” That is just me and my wishful thinking. I do believe that before we critique another mother’s parenting style and skills, we should take a moment and think; how would I feel if someone told me this?
Knowing that mom shaming is a problem should encourage all of us to not participate in it. Times are hard enough with all the decisions we’ve had to make over the last several months, the limited amount of time women get to themselves; especially as a mother, and the fear of the unknown. What is known is that words are powerful, and once you release them, they are out there and will not return void. Choose your criticism carefully, and know that what another mom is going through may not be what you are going through. Treat each other respectfully, ask how they are doing, be inquisitive without being nosy – show you care. If you are reading this and you are in my motherhood support group, thank you. Thank you for your support, your judgement free advice, and for being the great group of women you are. To all the good moms that I know who support other moms – and I know a lot who do, thank you too for showing women can support each other in one of the most stressful, worry-filled areas of our lives. Non critical moms are the real MVPs!!💋💋