I see you giving me the evil stare as you pass me in the breakfast aisle. I see that disapproving glance at my daughter, before landing your eyes back on me. Yes, my child is holding my smart phone. Yes, I’m allowing her to play games. But, before you silently mom-shame me, maybe you should know the back story. My daughter was a micro-preemie, who still occasionally gets over-stimulated in busy places. As my child was about to melt down, I handed her my phone. And that game she’s playing? It’s an educational tool, an app recommended by her speech therapist to help her catch up developmentally. Before you chastise me with your eyes, maybe you should think twice – you don’t know the whole story. Let’s stop this mom shaming. Can’t we all just get along?
As a first time mother, I’m appalled. There are many days I have no clue what I’m doing or how to parent, I’m simply learning by trial and error. And while I get plenty of praise from people on the internet, it’s those few moments of mom-shaming that stick out like a sore thumb. I once posted a picture of my daughter eating on Facebook. The snapshot was liked more than a thousand times, with dozens of people commenting on her adorable face. But, it was the one questionable comment that still sticks out more than a year later: “Why is that baby eating a donut?” Am I a bad parent for giving my child a donut hole? If the woman read the caption along with the picture, she would have realized the tiny baby is actually a toddler, small in size because she weighed just over a pound at birth. And that little donut hole was in celebration of finally reaching the 15lb mark at 14 months old.
In a society filled with over-sharing on social media, we open ourselves up to being judged and ridiculed. The days of being happy for each other has given way to a competition of sorts, an “I would NEVER do that” type of attitude. We shouldn’t be that way. I don’t give my daughter fruit juice, but I’m not judging anyone who does. I may be feeding my daughter an apple, but I would never question a parent feeding their child a cookie – because let’s face it, kids love sweets, my daughter included. And breastfeeding? I wasn’t breastfed as a baby and I turned out just fine!
It’s really nothing new for moms. We’ve been secretly comparing and competing with each other for decades, but technology has now made it easier than ever thanks to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Sure, I set myself up to be criticized by plastering pictures on social media and my blog. I know that not everyone is going to agree with my parenting style, but mom-shaming isn’t going to make me change.
The next time you quietly question a mother’s actions, remember, you don’t know the whole story. Raising a tiny human is challenging and the hardest job around. It’s time to lift each other up and praise our achievements. Most of us moms are doing the best that we can.