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As much as mom shaming is going on between moms, maybe it’s mostly going on internally…
What if we chose mom love for ourselves in the form of self-love, and then extended that to all mothers instead of mom shaming?
A few days after I gave birth to my twins, vaginally without an epidural no less, I had a massive realization.
That was the greatest thing I will ever do in my life. I birthed two human beings from my body after carrying them both to full term. (Not to mention the little girl I had waiting for me at home.)
I cried. Both because I was so proud of myself that words wouldn’t fully express the emotion, but also because there was a big weight of sadness too.
My greatest achievement didn’t come with a hefty bonus like making a massive sale at a corporate job would. I didn’t get an award that I was able to accept on stage. No parties or celebrations.
Sure there are the occasional congratulations. But all in all, there is very little actual commendation for the feat that I just accomplished. And well… I guess I just have to get used to it. And I’m guessing no matter how you gave birth, you can relate.
Perhaps we have our one.single.day.each.year where get a sliver of credit… Mother’s Day.
But how could that one day ever give us the true recognition of our accomplishments as a mom?
We do our best to create gold stars for ourselves, like making up the gold boob awards for breastfeeding or those little badges you can post from LLL saying you breastfed for x amount of time.
The worst part though? It isn’t just that we go unrecognized for all the amazing things we do to ensure our children are fed, happy and healthy. It’s that when any teeny thing goes wrong or is perceived as being not perfect, we get shit on.
The mom shaming begins.
Raise your hand if you’re in a ton of Facebook moms groups. 🙋🏻♀️ I got mine raised high!
How many times do you see moms asking for reassurance because their husband is blaming all of their children’s perceived faults and shortcomings on her, the mother? Because of course if a child is of any minor inconvenience to them, there is something wrong with them, and the mom is to blame, right?
And you know what is even sadder than husbands pointing fingers at moms?
I catch myself doing it. I judge other moms all. the. damn. time. I try my best not to.
But the truth is, my first instinct many times is to assume the mom did something wrong. Because that is what I’ve been trained to believe my entire life.
And I’m not ONLY turning that judgment on other moms. I turn it on full blast when looking at myself in the mirror. It’s like I never heard from self-love before.
That’s why I judge other moms so harshly. It can never come close to the level with which I judge myself.
So perhaps that’s why I hold myself in such high regard for my one massive accomplishment. Giving birth vaginally to twins without an epidural. A Herculean moment that no one can ever take away from me no matter how many tantrums my kids throw in Target.
And we all have them.
We all have some aspect of motherhood we feel immensely proud of and we cling to those parts to cover up where we feel vulnerable, where we mom shame ourselves.
That’s ONE of the reasons I’m so proud of breastfeeding, and am easily triggered when someone says “fed is best.” Yes of course I logically believe “fed is best,” but my reptilian brain just feels like I’m being threatened and all that hard work I put in to breastfeed is worthless. Of course, that’s complete and utter bullshit, but it’s what my subconscious wants to poison me with.
It’s the same for why I am so proud of my epidural-free twin birth.
With my first birth, it didn’t go quite as planned. I hoped for a totally natural birth, but after prodromal labor consented to an epidural and pitocin to relieve my exhaustion.
The birth was by all accounts a great birth. No issues. I didn’t even tear. But I didn’t have the birth I planned and wanted. Then breastfeeding was a little bit of a struggle for the first week as she learned to latch and I learned the ropes of nursing.
So when it finally clicked and she was nursing like a champ, I clung to that win with all my might, and also had an intense drive to have a natural birth with the next one because in my mind… I had failed at birth.
I’m not a perfect mom. There are so many things I screw up.
But I can hang on to two things. I am an awesome breastfeeder, and I had the best birth possible, the one I planned with my twins.
The truth though? I shouldn’t have to cling to these accomplishments.
With all we do should be acknowledged as moms, but at the same time… WHY do we NEED it?
What if we just completely accepted all aspects of ourselves as humans, women, and mothers? What if we were able to acknowledge without judgment our flaws and our strengths? Our wins and our loses? To be able to objectively see what has worked and what hasn’t without attaching shame or our self-worth to it?
Part of this process is actually acknowledging that we are judging each other (and ourselves).
Yes, I’m judging you. And you’re judging me. It’s ok mama. We don’t want to be mean to each other, but let’s be real for a second.
Of course we are all trying our best, and we make the best decisions we can with the information we have. But that doesn’t mean we can’t or shouldn’t do better.
In the name of not shaming or judging or hurting each other’s feelings, I feel like we point the finger of sanctimommy at anyone who dares disagree with our parenting style.
Guess what mama… you will not be right 100% of the time.
I’ll give you an example of perceived mom shaming from my own life.
A friend posted on her page about how it’s awful that so many parents use devices and screen time to keep their kids quiet while eating out.
Guess who totally turns to my phone when one of my kid is being particularly rowdy in a restaurant? ME!
At first I felt super triggered, judged and shamed by her post. I even commented in defense of my choice. I totally took it personally and felt like she was mom shaming me.
But ya know what… she’s right. Is it easier and simpler for me to ensure a well-behaved child by giving her tech vs. being prepared with other games or activities? Hell yes. But is it really the best choice? No.
And I know that. I know that giving my kid an iPhone so I can have a quiet meal may be the best choice for ME at that moment. But it’s not the best choice for HER. I was not being the best mom I could in those moments.
So I now have a new choice to make. Do I feel like making the poor choice in these instances is acceptable for my own sanity, or will I decide to put my child’s needs above own and make the “right” choice?
Honestly, it will probably depend on the day. (None of us are perfect!) Sometimes OUR needs come first, and sometimes our CHILD’S needs come first.
But what I want you to take from this is that I noticed myself feeling triggered and judged and I took a minute to step back and actually question my parenting decisions.
WE MUST ALL DO THIS.
Instead of getting butt hurt because someone disagrees with you, maybe actually question your own opinions and assumptions. Be real with yourself.
Judgment can be a good thing if it doesn’t turn into its toxic cousin, shame, and mom shaming.
From the dictionary:
1. the ability to make considered decisions or come to sensible conclusions.”
Ummm that sounds like a pretty important life skill. Supporting each other doesn’t always mean giving each other ass pats and high fives when we think the other is making a mistake. Sometimes tough love is needed.
But the keyword there is LOVE.
That means instead of placing shame on a mom, and either directly saying or hinting that she’s a bad mom for her choices, just share other options in a kind way.
Shaming example: “Everyone knows breastfeeding is the healthiest option, I can’t believe anyone would use formula, it’s poison.”
Kind example: “I wanted to breastfeed because I hate washing all those bottles! Let me know if you need any tips or resources, it can be hard at the beginning.”
In any job, you get commended for the awesome things you do, and you also are made aware of mistakes. How can we build a community in which we are doing both and able to receive both?
It starts with tossing out the mom shaming of ourselves and embracing some self-love. If we learn to show ourselves some compassion and love then it will be easier to be kind to others when sharing knowledge and opinions.
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