Mommy-shaming happens to the best of us…
I’m not saying I’m one of the “best,” but I at least try.
I’m sure you try too.
But seriously, it seems like NO ONE is exempt from the criticism of the naysayers. As Taylor Swift says:
Haters gone hate, hate, hate.
And you know what I’m learning to do?
Shake it off! Shhhhake it off.
But I still can’t help but vent with all of you. It’s just not right.
My latest contention is the mommy-shaming that I’ve been receiving for being a stay-at-home mom.
As though I don’t have other things to worry about.
Has this happened to you? It really blows my mind!
All I’m trying to do is raise my son/kids in the best way I can, as I’m sure you’re all trying to do too.
And then, what do I get?
Other MOTHERS who treat me as “less than” for choosing to leave my job and be home with my kids.
What’s wrong with that? It’s not like I’m an evil person and I’m teaching my son to be evil too.
I’m just living my life in the best way I can.
I get the looks, and the passive aggressive comments as though I chose this life because I didn’t have anything better to do. As though my job sucked in every sense of the word, and I had to leave it.
The reality is, I LOVED my job! I actually left the best job I ever had. It paid well. The hours were great.
I was fulfilled. And I felt heard.
Not very many people can say this about their current jobs. And yet, I CHOSE to leave it. I realize that not everyone can do this. I’m so thankful that we’re fortunate enough to be able to do it.
But does that make my decision stupid? If you ask some of the moms in my son’s playgroups….it absolutely does.
They look down at me as though I have nothing else to do, so I might as well do this.
They actually pity me with their “pity eyes” and say things like, “oh the other day at work,” and then stop themselves mid-sentence to say, “oh you wouldn’t know what that’s like.”
As though I’ve never worked a day in my life.
I’ve had group leaders “dumb” things down for me, and try to “momsplain” things that I actually used to teach other parents about.
Some staff members have even gone on to imply that I don’t speak English or don’t have an education and that must be the reason why I’m a stay at home mom.
As they think to themselves, “she couldn’t get anything else, so of course she’s a stay at home mom.” But the truth is, I AM educated.I DO speak English and I DO know what it’s like to work.
I Chose Being a Stay At Home Mom
And yet, I still CHOSE this life. I wouldn’t trade it for the world!
I actually enjoy waking my son up in the morning. Making him three meals a day. Talking to him. Taking him to the park, and about a million other things that we do in one day.
But that’s not to say that my job is easy. It’s far from it.
I go to sleep exhausted.
I wake up exhausted.
I always have 20 different things on my to-do list and I’m wiping dirty butts and tackling smells all day long.
It’s actually the hardest job I’ve ever had.
I once worked in an Autism classroom where I was quite literally beaten up every day.I would come home with bruises on my body, backaches, headaches and bite marks. And even that, was not as hard as my job as a housewife/stay-at-home mother.
I don’t know what others think when they think “stay-at-home mom or housewife,” because there’s definitely some discrepancy in what really happens and what they think happens.
Contrary to popular belief, we don’t have more time for ourselves, and life is not more easy going because we’re home “all the time.”
Life is hard. I’m sure it’s hard for all parents across the world. Which is exactly why I don’t judge parents who have to work 40, 60 or sometimes 80-hour work weeks.
If that’s what you have to do to make your family function, then so be it. But I’m going to say this, not everyone is cut out for being a stay-at-home mom or housewife.
And that HAS TO BE OKAY. In the same way that it takes a lot of determination and persistence to become a doctor, or lawyer or CEO, it takes that much more to be a SAHM and/or housewife.
I’m honored to be a SAHM and take it as seriously as I would any other job (Maybe more).
So when people ask me what I’m going to tell my daughter (if I had one) about that fact that I don’t work outside of the home, I’m going to tell her that I work twice as hard for no pay.
I’m doing something that not everyone can do, and I stuck it out. So the question of whether I am setting a good example to young girls everywhere? The short answer is, yes.
I’m teaching them that not every job that pays well is the job that gives you the most pleasure.
And not every career move has to be in search of a large corner office.
If my daughter chooses to follow in my path, more power to her.
And if she chooses to get a high paying job on Wall Street, at least that was her decision and not anyone else’s. Our society undervalues stay at home mothers.
It’s a sad reality. And I want to put an end to that.
Not only for SAHMs, but for mothers who have to deal with any sort of criticism about their parenting.
Being a mother is about being an example to our children. The way I lead by example is by successfully being my version of “super mom.”
No one’s perfect, but I’m perfect FOR my kids.
Despite what others say, or how much you feel like you’re “failing,” you’re still perfect for your kids.
I’m a firm believer in the “trying”parenting style.
It’s a little term I like to think I coined. Which basically just highlights that “trying” is better than nothing.
As long as you’re “trying” your best to be your child’s biggest positive influence, then the rest will fall into place.
So, let’s dive into what mom-shaming really is and learn how to put an end to it once and for all.
An Honest Look At Mom-Shaming
Throughout my motherhood journey, I’ve seen quite a few instances of mom-shaming.
Admittedly, it’s been from other SAHMs thinking they’re better than working mothers. Which really isn’t a good look either.
But the mom shaming I’ve experienced personally has come from mothers who work outside of the home.
They’ve been hair dressers, business women, lawyers and even a few teachers.
As I said, no one is exempt, from anything.
But when I hear the comments; aside from being inwardly annoyed.
I try to think about what fuels this kind of hatred from both sides of the spectrum?
Why do women have to be so mean to other women. Then I start to think, how can I put an end to it?
And do you know what I’ve come up with? The same thing that I came up with when raising my son.
I have to be a POSITIVE EXAMPLE.
Do you know how I do this?
I don’t judge someone else’s parenting, (especially if they made an active decision to parent the way they’re parenting) and by only talking about the positive things that I see.
For example, when I talk to friends and family, I share positive stories about what has gone on in our day/week.
You know why?
Because I know my son is watching and listening, and I want to promote positivity.
Instead of judging a mom for bringing in cookies (lots of sugar) for the entire group, I’m going to talk about how nice that was.
I make my son say thank you. I give him a piece and I keep it moving.
After all, that really is a nice thing to do.
She took the time out to pack up the cookies, remembered to put them in the car, and then handed them out to everyone.
By all standards it was a nice gesture.
She could have given the cookies to literally anyone else. But she chose us, so I’m going to be thankful.
The same applies when a mother yells at their kid for hitting my son.
I’ve seen this happen quite a bit.
And I’m not judging her for yelling… it happens.
YOU KNOW THAT IT HAPPENS.
But when I retell the story, what do I say?
“Oh the mom was so concerned about how her kid hit X, but it’s okay because he was fine now”.
If we just take a step back and be more empathetic about people’s behaviors, it would do us a world of good.
Think about instances in which traditional mom-shaming occurs…
“Mother gives her child McDonald’s for dinner. That’s unhealthy”
How about… mother fed child. (millions of kids go hungry every day).
“Mother allows child to use iPad. She’s terrible”
How about, mother has entertainment for child, while she does some very important things.
“Four year old child is still in diapers. That’s just insane”
How about you think about the mom’s struggle? Maybe she tried, was overwhelmed and stopped. Maybe she didn’t have support or guidance, maybe she has bigger fish to fry. We don’t know what her struggle is.
That’s another thing you should try to remember… we don’t know anyone else’s struggle except our own.
And instead of judging, why wouldn’t you “put your money, where your mouth is” and help your fellow mother if you see she’s struggling.
If you were really concerned about the child’s well-being you could help out.
For example, if you think you’re the best cook in the world, and your kids are super healthy because of it, couldn’t you invite them over to dinner?
If a four year old child in diapers is a concern for you, you could casually bring up the topic and then offer some actionable advice.
Or what ever happened to minding your own business?
I don’t mean to be harsh. But seriously, this is a solid piece of advice.
Knowing when things don’t concern you, is a great skill to have.
I used to think that I was a believer in, “it takes a village to raise a child”.
But in reality, the way I’ve seen it play out is, “I get to help you, and I get to discipline your children the way I see fit, and I get to spoil them if I want to, and I basically get to do whatever I want, with your child, because it takes a village.”
This doesn’t work for me.
And it may not work for you.
I make it very apparent that I am the parent, and I discipline and I reinforce the behaviors that I want to reinforce.
If I want my to year old to nap every day, that’s my decision.
It’s because of this mentality, that I don’t meddle into other people’s decisions.
I don’t want them meddling in mine, and they deserve the same respect.
One last tip, just because someone does something that may be different than you, doesn’t mean it is inherently “bad” or inherently “good.”
If someone decides to put their children to bed at 8pm and another at 7:30 pm, it doesn’t make it a good or bad decision. Just different.
If a parent chooses to let their child climb the slide rather than slide down it, it doesn’t make it inherently good or bad. It just makes it different.
If the child falls, then that’s on the parent. Not a concern of yours.
Your child could easily fall going down the slide.
When we’re assessing situations that we see in our lives, the best practice should be to review the facts.
- Are we being empathetic and remembering someone’s struggle?
- Are we minding our own business and realizing that it doesn’t concern us?
- Is this a situation where we need to remind ourselves that we’re not “better” or “worse,” we’re just different?
The age old saying: “let’s just agree to disagree” seems to be fitting in a situation like this.
We don’t need to battle or judge parents for doing things differently than ourselves.
It’s okay to be different. Our differences are actually what make us better.
Putting An End to Mom-Shaming One Step At A Time
This entire post has been written with the thought that I am by no means perfect. If that isn’t apparent, let me say this now. I AM NOT PERFECT.
I have my off days and my fits of rage that I try to control.
But again, all I’m trying to do is “try” to be better.
Don’t you want the same?
If you’re a mother who judges others for not feeding their children strictly vegan meals, I urge you to take my advice.
If you just so happen to be a mother who works outside the home, then great. Accept that not everyone may want to do that, and move on.
For the stay at home mother that thinks everyone should be a homemaker, I urge you to rethink this philosophy. What if doing that puts the children at risk because mom is so overwork she loses it?
Every “trying” mother/parent does what they think is best, and that’s all we should expect.
Join me on my mom-shaming boycott so that we can actually be the positive influences our children need us to be!
Have you faced some sort of mom-shaming? How did you deal with it?
Are you bold enough to admit that you’ve been the mom-shamer and you’re willing to shed some light?
Let me know in the comments below!