Last week I attended a MOPS event where the speaker was addressing the (oh-too-common) topic of mom-shaming. Her overall message was that we should not compare ourselves to other (“super”) moms and that we also need to be kinder in how we view ourselves. She explained that God chose us to be the mom to our children and we should trust in His design. I appreciated her message and began to reflect on what she shared.
I have heard many stories about moms who try to “do it all” and how many mothers compare themselves to what they see other moms doing. Personally, I haven’t found myself doing that at this stage of parenthood (It might be something I tackle with down the road as my children get older?). Yet, I have experienced the mom-shaming from others before I even gave birth to Little One. It was something that caught me WAY off-guard and I admit that it was hurtful. Throughout my first pregnancy, I was excited to read books/blogs about parenting and ask for advice from the many parents whom I’ve met over the years. I was eager to hear their opinions and never felt bothered if their views were different from mine. (Even prior to pregnancy, if a parent had a different view than myself, I just saw it as a difference – nothing more nor less. And I’m talking about decisions such as: sunscreen types, bedtimes, breastfeeding or bottle-feeding, what solids you introduce, if you cloth diaper or not, and so forth. These are not topics around serious matters like child abuse or neglect.) However, my world was quickly spun around when I experienced how mean others can be when they hear that your view on a topic may be different than what they did. I had people, even “friends,” say harsh things (and I’m still not 100% sure they realized how hurtful it was) and even a few people who have chosen to walk away from our “friendship” based on how I chose to raise my baby. Even though these effort of mom-shaming were upsetting, they did not make me feel bad about the choices our family made in regards to parenting Little One. I am confident in the paths we have taken and the reasons behind those choices. And even though this was a battle of mom-shaming against others, it did not make me feel like a failure as a mom.
So then I began to reflect on if I am too hard on myself. I do admit, and I wrote a recent post about it, that there are times when I feel like a complete failure as a mom. Some days I feel like I’m messing up each hour and I end up putting my son to bed, wishing I could fix the mistakes I made that day. However, these feelings soon go away and when I sit and ponder the day’s events, I know that I’m still being the best mom I can be (even if that day I’m a screw-up-mom). That being said, I did not feel like I do a lot of self-imposed mom-shaming.
That was how I felt as I left the MOPS session, then tonight happened and I realized that my greatest mom-shamer is myself. It doesn’t come in the form of what I’ve heard other moms express, but rather in a little bit different of an experience – from comparing to moms whom I’ve never come in contact with in any form. The times I feel most inadequate is when I’m trying to run everything in the household, while chasing around Little One, and then my husband comes home. He NEVER says anything negative about all of the work I do, nor if there are things I do not get done. Yet, when he comes home, I begin to have conversations in my head that go like this:
“Why didn’t you get those projects done yet?” “Couldn’t you make a meal that has more flavor?” “Why are you looking stressed about how much stuff Little One got into today? He’s just one child.” “How did you not have enough time to make bread?”
All of these thoughts and way more play through my head, even though no one says them aloud (And in my heart, I know my husband isn’t even thinking them!) Yet the scripts run through my mind like a CD stuck on repeat. The unique reason? I know that my husband comes from a different culture and in that culture, the majority of the moms are getting tons done every day. They wake up early (I hate the thought of that!) and work on (in my opinion) complex meals while easily having five, or more, children running around the house (I’m just trying to manage ONE here!). The thought of me not being able to do all of what “they” do makes me feel so defeated. Again, though my husband never EVER said anything in regards to this, I feel like I can’t live up to his “normal.” He spent his entire childhood and young adult years seeing all of these mothers going through their days while completing all housework, managing a football team of children, and making massive meals with plenty ready to go in case some guest decides to show up. Then there is me. I’m doing a load of laundry a day and cleaning up throughout the hours, yet at night I look at those dishes like, “Does my husband seriously want ME to wash them!?!” Then I feel guilty sharing how tired I am from keeping up with this energizer bunny I gave birth to (I love him dearly! Why do we moms feel like we have to add details like that into a blog???? Yep, cause of the awesome mom-shaming, especially in the hide-behind-a-screen world of the Internet.) when I know my husband came from a house of five children. And I feel like I struggled to cook dinner for 30-60 minutes, as opposed to those recipes from my husband’s country that take hours and hours! As for the guests… ha, might not want to show up at our door. Though I do typically have cereal stocked up (Lesson learned from my Mama Bear).
Consequently, I find myself being my biggest mom-shamer. Now, I can rationalize all of this. I know that women in my husband’s culture are blessed with living in more of a tribe setting. This means you are not watching your children alone, but rather, you are
honored with the company of family members who help watch your children throughout the day. This gives a mom time to clean up the house and cook meals that take forever (But man, they taste soooo good!). They also live in a community that tends to be more relaxed and easy-going. Society is not busy rushing around, nor are their lives dictated by their work schedules. Life is centered around family (I love that!) So, you see, I know these factors that separate my mommy world from “their” mommy world. I understand that things are different when you have a support system close to where you are living. I know that these crazy thoughts are nutty things I put in my head by my own doing. Yet still, they return! Thus I’ve come to the conclusion, that I am the one who imposes the greatest mom-shaming battle against myself. Now for the next step? Stop the crazy recordings in my head! Stay tuned, after all, they say practice makes perfect. 🙂
Ahmeli… that as parents, we will celebrate one another’s efforts in parenting Little Ones, and that we’ll stand up against those who cruelly seek to shame others just because we choose to parent differently.
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