Mom shaming. Every mom deal with this at some point. For whatever reason, we live in a very judgmental society. It seems like everyone has opinion and feels that theirs is always the right one, and anyone who disagrees is an idiot. When it comes to raising children, there are lots of things to disagree on.
Here are some examples of things that either I myself, or someone close to me, have experienced being mom shamed for.
Type of Birth
This one is really ridiculous, in my opinion. Your job, as a pregnant mom-to-be, is simply to do everything you can to get your child here safe and sound. Period. End of story. The way they enter the world or where they enter the world does not matter. You want a home birth? Cool! Good luck with that. I personally preferred to go to a hospital because that’s where the drugs were. You had a natural delivery? Kuddos, momma, because you are a warrior. You started asking for an epidural at your 8 week appointment? Girl, me too. Give me all the drugs! You can chose whatever experience you want. Babies are born without medication or with the relief of epidural ALL THE TIME. There is no right or wrong answer here.
Vaginal v. C-Section
Another big topic that the mom shaming gets out of hand with it the vaginal v. c section debate. This one really pisses me off. Remember that part about getting your baby here safe? Yeah, well in order for that to happen, some ladies need surgical intervention. We aren’t necessarily scheduling our children to be ripped from our abdomen for our own convenience. My experience with this was from a failed induction, where I labored, without medication, for 44 hours with literally NO progression. Turns out, my baby was to large to fit through the birth canal, and was becoming distressed. I literally had about 10 minutes between the time a c section became medically necessary to the time I was on the OR table, having my guts pulled out. That’s not a lot of time to process anything. Thanks to quick-moving, confident doctors, we both came through okay.
There are women (and men) out there who will tell you one type of birth is easier than the other. They are WRONG. Vaginal birth requires an exhausted mom to use every ounce of energy and strength she possesses to push something that is way too big out of an opening that is way too small. There is nothing easy about that. They are warriors. A c section, on the other hand, the mom is thought to be just laying there while someone else does the work.
Let me tell you from experience about the sheer terror on that table. Your mind races the whole time about what may happen to the baby, what may happen to you, what will recovery be like, are you going to throw up, and so many more thoughts. The worst part is that you have no control. Your life and your baby’s life are completely out of your hands. The recovery is nothing to sneeze at either. Seriously, don’t sneeze, or you’ll feel like your internal organs are going to fall right out of your body. Now, after having major surgery, you have to not only recover, but keep this new little person cared for. Again, warriors. All moms are warriors.
Feeding your Baby
Breastfeeding v. Bottle Feeding
Let the mom shaming begin. This can start as early as you admitting to someone that you are pregnant. I will never understand why anyone thinks it is their business how anyone else’s child is fed. It is NOT. As long as your child is being fed, you are rocking it, moms, so keep up the good work. Trust me, we are all aware of the benefits of breastfeeding, and what the studies show, and whatever else. If you breastfed your baby, whether for a day or a year, you are awesome. It is a lot of work and commitment. We also need to recognize that not everyone can do it. Each woman is living their own specific situation, and has their reasons for their decision.
As an example, I did not breastfeed. For starters, my milk never came in. Though, I had no intention of breastfeeding to begin with. I am on medication for lupus, and was at great risk postpartum for a flair that could’ve made me very sick. I was not going to put myself at risk because my baby needed me healthy. Equally, I didn’t want to risk him experiencing side effects from the medication. I make zero apologies for my decision. The reason I am sharing is to show you that you never know what someone is dealing with, and as moms, we all have reasons for our decisions. We owe nobody an apology or explanation. Believe me when I say there is nothing convenient about getting up several times per night to make a bottle. So to my bottle feeding moms, you’re rocking it too!
Cereal and Purees
I have seen mom shaming over when to start feeding a baby cereal or pureed foods. Most moms will follow two things: their pediatricians recommendations, and their mom-gut. (Never underestimate your mom-gut instincts.) Back to the shaming, some pediatricians will recommend waiting until 6 months of age for anything other than formula. Others will give you the go-ahead at 4 months. I would think that if even doctors have differing opinions, then there is obviously no clear right or wrong answer. So why do some women make others feel bad for their choices? Doesn’t make much sense, does it?
Baby food is another thing I have seen negativity over. Some moms make homemade baby food from all organic fruits and veggies. That’s awesome. Some moms (like me) by their baby food by the jar from the grocery store. Again, as long as baby is fed, is there really a wrong method here? Do what works for your family.
Pacifiers and Thumb Sucking
I really don’t understand the mom shaming behind this. Why would anyone care how someone else’s child self-soothes. My son was basically obsessed with his pacifier until he was 2.5 and now at 3, he is fine without it. I have a niece who sucked her thumb for years and now she’s a teenager, and she is fine. These things aren’t hurting the children and they aren’t hurting anyone else, so those judge-y people need to just move on from this one. Keep your mouth shut and go on with your life.
Boy-moms, no matter what you decide to do, someone will have something negative to say about it. I recommend not even talking about it. Honestly, this is a decision up to you and the father. Nobody else needs to weigh in. If you are on the fence, there are tons of resources both for and against. Do your research. Make your own decision. As for the mom shaming, for the people who want to say you are right or wrong, tell them not to worry about what is going on in your son’s pants. Again, it has no effect on them in any way.
Mom shaming runs rampant with this topic too. This is another thing that doesn’t concern anyone but your immediate family. Some people will tell you that you are psychologically scarring your child. Some will tell you that children need to cry sometimes. People will argue this until they drop dead. My motto on this and pretty much everything parenting related is simply do what works for your family.
This is another hot topic. Don’t get me wrong, because I am all for car seat safety and education. However, some people lose their mind over this topic. What you need to do is educate yourself on proper seat installation and use, and the guidelines in your area. Follow them.
For an example, where I live, children are require to be rear-facing until they are at least a year old. The recommendation is to keep them that way until age 2. Some moms choose to keep children rear-facing until they start drivers training. Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but the point is, they keep them that way much longer. Stay within the laws local to you and do what works best for your family.
Moms that feel passionately and want to educate someone on something that might be wrong, please do so, but be conscious of how you go about it. I have had friends comment on something wrong with how my car seat was installed. They were respectful, sensitive, and helpful. These people were not rude, condescending, or make me feel like I was a horrible mother.
Working v. Staying Home
Mom shaming can get out of hand here, too. As moms, we are all over-worked. Regardless if we work outside the home or within. For the SAHM’s (stay-at-home-moms) think of all the things you do all day every day. Its insane, right? Now imagine doing it with 8+ hours less in your day. Now imagine you have to spend those 8+ hours slaving away for someone else. Yep, being a working mom is hard, and they are rock stars.
Now for my working moms, imagine being locked away in your home all day every day. You are doing nothing but chores and errands all day every day. Then, while you are doing this, a mini-tornado is moving constantly around you creating even more work. You rarely get any adult contact. There is no time to yourself. You haven’t been able to pee unsupervised in so long that you forgot what that’s even like. Yep, being a SAHM is hard, and they are rock stars, too.
We are all doing the best we can to take care of and provide for our family. The grass always looks greener from the other side. But again, trust me, none of us have it easy.
I am guilty of this prior to having a child of my own. I just didn’t understand co-sleeping. Hopefully I never shamed anyone about it, but I just truly was silently judgmental. Then I had a child, a child who wasn’t big on sleep, and my eyes were suddenly opened to a whole new world.
We are all just exhausted moms trying to get in our average of 3+ hours of sleep a night. When you are more fatigued than you’ve ever been, running on no more than 1 hour of sleep at a time and 8 hours total for the week, you get pretty desperate. I can no longer fault any mom (or dad, for that matter) for doing whatever they need to in order to get a decent amount of rest.
I touched on this slightly in my potty training post, but this is another one that I have dealt with. This mom shaming often times comes from grandparents or older friends and relatives. The only thing I can figure is that its been so long since they’ve had small children of their own that they no longer recall how hard it is.
Children can be stubborn, and while some take to potty training super early, some do not. The statistic I was given by my pediatrician is that girls tend to train on average around 2.5, and boys tend to train later on average around 3.5. Regardless, if you have a child over the age of 2 in diapers, someone somewhere will have something to say about it. I tend to reply to these comments with some prickly comments of my own. Usually its something along the lines of, “Since you’re the expert, maybe you can take him for a few days and train him yourself.” With most things, I will not engage the mom-shamers, but this one just makes me crazy.
Why We Need to Stop
Those are just some examples of topic where mom shaming can occur. I could honestly write a book on all the others. Which is sad, really. Parenting is a hard job. Being a mom and a wife is the hardest job I have ever had. These children do not come with an instruction manual. There are no definitive directions to read. We are all just trying to figure it out as we go.
As women, we need to remember that we aren’t in competition with each other. We need to come together and be supportive. They say it takes a village. I don’t know if that’s exactly true. I could probably raise my son with zero help or advice. It would be a lot harder. I rely on my mom friends, and my mom groups, for so much advice and support. I wish all women would be as supportive of each other as can be.
Mom guilt is bad enough. We have all felt it. As moms, we are harder on ourselves than anyone else is on us. There are days that I feel like a failure, like the worst mom on the planet, and like I cant do anything right. I know other moms feel this way too. Sometimes we need that little extra boost, that reassurance that we are doing just fine.
We don’t need more judgment and criticism. We don’t need to be a victim of rampant mom shaming. On those days, a kind word can go a long way. Us moms need to make a commitment to supporting each other instead of shaming. We need to make a promise to ourselves and other moms to go out of our way to be kinder and more understanding to each other. If we can do that, being a mom would become a lot easier, a lot less stressful, and way more fun.
Have you experienced mom shaming? Let me know in the comments.