Mommy shame. It’s been around since the beginning of time, and will probably be around until the end of time. Being a “good mom,” I’ve always considered myself someone who would not mommy shame. I say things like “fed is best” and “you know what’s best for your baby.” But did I really mean those things? Once, I caught myself thinking “oh wow, she didn’t even try to breastfeed,” and another time I said something like “I wish I could leave my newborn for a weekend. I guess I just care too much to leave him.” I realized immediately that my comments were way out of line, and I would never say anything like that to someone’s face. This forced me to re-evaluate the way I think, and made me ask myself a tough question…
Am I guilty of assigning mommy shame?
The answer was a hard pill to swallow.
I discovered my not so nice comments and mommy shaming always came from one of two places:
INSECURITY or JEALOUSY.
Insecurity. This type of mommy shame normally comes out when there is a tragedy and something horrible happens. A dresser falls and hurts a child or a kid gets into an exhibit at the zoo. Your worry and fear comes out, and instead of putting ourselves in the mom’s shoes, we try to tell ourselves we would never do that. We place the blame on the mom to give ourselves a sense of safety. We make a comment like “Well all the furniture in my house is secured,” or “I would NEVER let go of my child’s hand at the zoo.” We don’t want to think it could happen to our child, and we want to pretend that it could never happen to us. The truth is, by putting others down we are falsely boosting our self-esteem. The best way to combat this type of mommy shame is to accept that accidents happen and no one is perfect. Horrible things happen in the world and even the best parent in history can have something happen to their child. When you hear of a tragedy think about what that mom is going through. Use your empathy to fight your fear.
Jealousy. The grass is always greener on the other side. It’s easy to look at others’ lives and be jealous. Stay at home moms dream of getting some adult time, while working moms daydream about spending their days cuddling their babies. Instead of acknowledging that both jobs are equally difficult, we make comments like, “Well I would go to work, but I don’t want someone else raising my baby” or, “I could stay home, but I couldn’t imagine giving my partner that financial burden.” I realized this was where most of my judgement was coming from. When I saw a mom choosing formula, I was jealous. I saw her enjoying nights away from the baby, and getting to enjoy an adult beverage or two while she did it. The best way to fight jealousy is to count your own blessings. The grass isn’t always as green as we think it might be on the other side; it’s greener where you water it. Invest your time in being positive and being happy for other moms.
I’m happy to say that once I started fighting my insecurities and jealousy, things improved. I was not only nicer to other moms, but I started becoming a better mom to my kids. I stopped comparing myself and started being more present.
Are you guilty of mommy shaming? If you are, and are willing to share, comment below.