“Pssst…did you hear that she swears in front of the kids? That’s just awful parenting. No wonder the kids are messed”. Rolled eyes. Whispers. Disgusted Looks. Snickers. Alienation.
Ever experienced THAT before? “THAT” being SHAME. But more specifically, Mom Shaming. In my books, Mom Shaming is the worst experience ever and here’s why:
As mothers, we’re super hard on ourselves about how we parent. Am I right or am I right? We’re so quick to criticize even the tiniest of our mistakes. Multitasking to no end and still feeling like we haven’t done enough – not to mention that no one even hears about all the juggling we do behind the scenes. Inviting guilt to consume us anytime we engage in self care is our superpower. Heck. We live in constant guilt and excessively worry about our children’s well being. Their needs come before ours-always. It’s never enough. And just when we think we’ve got the hang of it all-this mothering thing-life throws us some curve balls. Y’know-just to keep us on our toes. The life of a mother is endless. We are mothers for life no matter how old our children become.
Making the decision to have a child – it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body-Elizabeth Stone.
That’s a TALL order we signed up for Moms. Think about it for just a sec and pat yourselves on the back for taking on this role. It’s not for the faint hearted.
So I want to ask you this:
Out of all your mom friends, which one’s got it easy?
I can tell you right now that none of my mom friends are spared of the struggles I speak of. I don’t care if you have a nanny or not, if you’re affluent or not, if your kids attend private schools or not, if you make time for self care or not and the list goes on. There is a bond amongst mothers that runs deeper than all these superficial variables – we find ourselves in the same limiting beliefs. I don’t do enough for my kids. I’m doing something wrong. Or worse – I’m not as good of a mother as she is. As mothers, we fully understand the complexity of motherhood and the frustrations that come along with it because we all live it.
So instead of joining forces in support of each other, why do we turn to Mom Shaming? It’s the ultimate kicker in the “you know where” when you’re already feeling less than enough way too many times.
I was on TV last week as part of a parenting panel (a side note: YES! It was super exciting!). The show is called The Goods, hosted by CBC. This particular segment on Parenting will air October 17 at 2 pm incase anyone is wondering. So, back to the panel. I was on the panel with another beautiful mother of three adult girls and a very knowledgeable parenting expert. We discussed sex, boundaries, saying no to our kids and mom shaming.
Announcing my mom shaming experience on TV shouldn’t be an easy feat but because I believe so strongly about sharing our shame experiences to pull us out of a stagnant pattern and into one of growth, it didn’t seem so difficult.
I spoke freely about the shame I experienced when my husband and I decided to go our separate ways and while he may not agree (and neither would many others I quickly discovered), I knew it was the best decision to make not only for myself but also for my children. I say this because I see my sons today and know without a doubt that I made the right choice. But back then, I was shamed for it. To others it seemed like a pretty selfish act when I made the choice to leave my marriage. Why? Because I wasn’t thinking about the children. I was putting my needs before theirs. This belief alone kept me in a marriage well past the expiry date all because of, “what will people say”?
While on TV, I also spoke freely about how I have a hard time saying “no” to my sons. There was a twinge of shame when I expressed that but caught myself and was assured that my story would help other moms feel less alone and more supported in my rawness. I get it. Less shaming and more vulnerability is the way to go because….
You will find yourself in another woman’s story.
Mothers everywhere have their own stories of shame around body image, infertility, parenting (i.e. education, nutrition, extra curricular), self care (or lack thereof) and the list goes on. While some of the shame is self induced, let’s get real here: “there’s no smoke without fire”. We’ve been programmed by society to be super hard on ourselves. Can we really afford to shame and in turn, alienate each other?
You know the mom I mentioned in the beginning of this post? Yes. That’s me. I’ve done that and regretted it every single time. So I do it less today than I did yesterday. It’s a work in progress but I don’t cower in shame otherwise I’d never be able to fix it. AND. I share these real struggles with my mom friends over a glass of red and learn to laugh about our mistakes. In this space, I’m able to exercise self compassion and connection to make a difference in not only my life but in the life of others.
I want to turn this over to you now. Have you ever experienced Mom Shaming? How did you handle that situation? Or have you unintentionally shamed another mom? We would love to hear from you so that we can support and learn from each other in this messy and beautiful journey called motherhood.