I am so over mom-shaming. If you’re a momma and you’re reading this, you should be too. For far too long mommas have been shamed, embarrassed, belittled and harassed over how they raise their children by the very community that should embrace them. The way some mom-shamers behave, you’d think there was some, “Mom of the Universe” trophy awaiting them.

Spare me.

As a matter of fact, spare us all. The sooner you get over yourself, the better.

I was 19 years old when I gave birth to my first child. It was also the first time I was mom-shamed. After feeling like my body had been dumped in a blender and left to fend for itself immediately following childbirth, I’d decided that the tiny human who would learn to call me Momma, was done calling the shots.

I informed the nursing staff that my daughter would be bottle-fed but a lactation consultant was assigned to me anyway, in the event that I changed my mind. I had no plans to do so but that didn’t stop the lactation consultant from trying.

She told me about her amazing kids and how much smarter, healthier and happier they were because she nursed them. She urged me to try and I agreed, but only to prove to myself and her that nursing wasn’t for me. After finally getting my daughter to latch on, I came to the conclusion that I was right.

Nursing wasn’t natural feeling or comforting but more so awkward and painful. After the first feeding, I decided against it and requested my daughter be bottle fed for the rest of the hospital stay. To my surprise, the lactation consultant, a much older and seasoned momma, wasn’t too happy. She wanted an explanation and although I didn’t owe her one, I decided to engage her anyway, believing that she would understand my plight. Unfortunately, that was when the shaming began.

She told me the benefits of nursing should outweigh any awkwardness I was experiencing. She told me formula was more expensive than breastmilk and if I was smart, I’d do what was free, especially since I was an unemployed single mother. She talked to me about not being a quitter and how maturity does what’s best for the baby not what was comfortable for me. On and on she went trying to dissuade me from giving my baby a bottle, all the while making me feel like trash. Her plan worked and for the rest of that week, with tears in my eyes, I nursed my baby. I was miserable because I was torn between wanting to stop but not wanting to be selfish. I was young and so I knew I would already be judged as not knowing what I was doing but the truth of the matter is, no first-time momma knows what she’s doing. It’s all trial and error and so I decided that I was my daughter’s momma and my word regarding her would be the last.

Besides, the lactation consultant’s thoughts about my mothering abilities were based on her issues, not mine. In fact, isn’t that how it is with all mom-shamers?

They tend to pick and choose their battles based on their own “mom supremeness”. When in all actuality their bullying is probably related to their own insecurities brought on by them being mom-shamed at one point in their life. You see, I am a firm believer that hurt mommas hurt other mommas. It’s nothing personal, it’s just that instead of taking the criticism they received and allowing it make them stronger, they latched on to the pain it caused and began inflicting pain on other mommas. In their minds, this is the way to regain the self-validation that was taken from them during their shaming experience.

This vicious cycle needs to stop.

It’s time we stand together and start healing the breach that has been created within our momma community. Why? Because the safest place for a momma should be in a room with other mommas. It doesn’t matter if that room is a social media thread, a playdate, sports games, school events, church events or the pediatrician’s office. Let’s agree to work together to build each other up because at the end of the day, being a momma is hard work. That’s something we can all agree on.

Danielle Lyles

Danielle Lyles, is a freelancer and screenwriter from St. Louis, Missouri. A seasoned Navy wife and momma of 4, she enjoys writing faith-based films and blogging about the African American parenting and military experience. She’s been featured as a guest blogger on Army Wife 101 and currently writes for Purpose Driven Women Magazine launching in 2018.