Mom-shaming begins as far back as conception of our little people. “Did you conceive naturally? Did you go through fertility treatments? Use a surrogate? Adoption?” It continues through birth. “Did you get an epidural? C-section? Homebirth?”
The choices moms are judged on continue well into our children’s young adulthood. From how we discipline to the number of colleges Jimmy is going to visit; the opportunities of other’s opinions are never ending.
So, in this world of social media and unguarded opinions about everything, motherhood and the vast field of options we have during this journey, have left us open for even more mom-shaming and judgment from the outside. It’s unhealthy for all of us, especially for our kids.
Every Motherhood Experience Is Different
Even if we make assumptions, we will never truly know what any other woman’s motherhood experience is like. The role of mom is not cookie-cutter. Mothers are raising kids on their own, raising blended families, and raising one child or six. Some moms are surrounded by the support of family, while others are thousands of miles away. Some mothers have their partner home every night; some have partners deployed for months at a time.
Instead of assuming we could do a better job, or that our advice is relevant in her life, what if we assumed the mother in question was doing the very best she could at that moment? The moment you see her do something you would never do, try assuming that is the best thing for that child at that moment, or that mother.
May I remind us: There is no way to know what it is like to be someone else. You don’t know that your inner-judgy mommy wouldn’t do things exactly like Suzy Someone, had you had the same upbringing she had. Or marriage, or high-maintenance twins, or closet illness, etc.
Don’t Buy the Hype
When you are ready to mom-shame based on a mother’s social media persona, just stop. Stop it right away. You won’t be judging reality. The real role of social media is not to air our dirty laundry or post our imperfections. It is meant to keep us all connected in an entertaining and superficial way.
So when Suzy has a perfect ski weekend and the insecurity brought on by seeing her pictures makes you want to judge the heck out of her fake blonde highlights, just trust that it was not all rainbows and unicorns to get to that picturesque moment. Be secure in the fact that every mom has been thrown up on, dealt with feces in a way we never want to discuss again, and negotiated with a terrorist in the form of a two-year-old. So, applaud Suzy for surviving long enough to get that gorgeous picture in Aspen. And for having possession of her own phone (and that it wasn’t in the hands of the terrorist mentioned above). Let’s celebrate one another’s small successes, rather than judge them.
None of Us Know What the Heck We Are Doing
The insane job of being a mom has no job description. All I know is half the time I feel like I am walking around life with my heart on the outside of my body ready to be crushed at any moment. I had no idea that loving these little people would be so easy and so gut-wrenching all at the same time. It is literally the most confusing and complicated job I have ever had. The last thing any of us need as we manage motherhood (and all of the other glass balls we are juggling: trying to stay a person, eating well, maintaining a social life, finishing an entire book, etc.), is to worry about being criticized by other people. And strangers, to boot.
If you are judging, you aren’t listening. Imagine if we opened our hearts and our ears when interacting with moms different than us. So, as we all journey through motherhood blindly, we might actually learn something from one another. Something we never knew or even considered. And out of that listening, friendships might actually blossom.
The Finish Line
Motherhood is not a competition. There is no winner in the end. Surround yourself with your board of directors – those people whose opinions you value, are supportive, understanding and want to see your family succeed. Separate yourself from people who judge you or interject their unsolicited opinions. No one knows you and your family like you do. Be secure in that.
We spend a lot of time coaching our children to “Be Kind.” The messages are out there. Circulating on social media is a meme that reads, “If you can be anything, be kind.” I agree. So let’s start at the foundation of a family and be kind to mothers. We really are all doing our best.
Jessica Nazario lives in the Chicagoland area with her super husband, two bigs (teens), two littles (elementary-age) and her ultimate doodle. They have a loud, loving, chaotic, life of moving back and forth across the country. Jessica tripped, fumbled and fell into the SAHM life after working in corporate America. She now blogs about the joys and chaos of motherhood at TheMomReality.com. You can follow her on Facebook or on Instagram.