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Moms can’t catch a break lately. We’re judged for pulling our breasts out and feeding our babies. On the other hand, we’re judged for sticking a bottle of formula in our bundle of joy’s mouth. Tim Gunn is fighting for our right to be fashionable no matter what size is etched in our pants. Our kids criticize us for not taking the crust off their PB&J. The to-do lists are growing, and our patience is thinning. And no one is immune. Not even the former, and possibly next ‘First Daughter of the United States.’

Yup, that’s right not even Chelsea Clinton can catch a break from the sanctimommies and Judgy McJudgersons. So what’s her crime? Missing her daughter’s first day of preschool. The media is taking this crime seriously, and Chelsea finds herself in the cross-hairs of the court of public opinion. All over the internet people are throwing shade so fast she needs to figuratively bob and weave better than Mike Tyson himself to avoid getting smacked with shame.

So where was Chelsea on this very important day of her daughter’s life? Her daughter who is barely two? On the campaign trail in North Carolina for her mom who is recovering from pneumonia. Reading media reports it would sound as if Ms. Clinton shoved her toddler unaccompanied in an Uber driven by a crack-head to be dropped off alone, and crying at her nursery school. But no, everyone can calm down, as it has been confirmed Chelsea’s husband, and the father of her baby, along with their nanny accompanied little Charlotte to her first day of school.

This is where parent shaming has gotten us. Judging a mother who unfortunately cannot be there for her daughter’s first day of preschool. It doesn’t matter that she has a good excuse. Or that Charlotte’s father, who has just as much of an influence in her life as Chelsea does was there. No, as a society we shame and guilt any mother who can’t be there for her child, even though chances are she would give anything to do so.

The reality is there are so many Chelsea Clintons in the world. While the motivations might be different, the outcome is the same. Working moms who sacrifice missing their little one’s first days of school, star performances, mommy-and-me breakfasts, all because we live in a world where it takes two incomes for a family to function. And it’s not just work pulling at us. It’s aging parents who need our attention as much as our children do. Known as the ‘sandwich generation’ many of us in our 30’s and 40’s waited until later in life to have children, therefore have aging parents who need us to take care of them, as we raise our own.

The struggle is real, and the judgment is relentless. But it also raises a question of the other sex. Why does it always fall on the mother? For generations, men missed first days of school, recitals, soccer practice, as he was making the bread and butter to bring home to mom to make scrumptious sandwiches. Never do we hear about dad missing milestones. It is socially acceptable for dad to not make it on a kid’s ‘big day.’ And when dad cites work as his reason for missing out, everyone gives a knowing nod, and he is given a pass.

Times are changing, and it’s time attitudes do as well. It takes a lot of money to provide shelter, food, clothing and all of the other necessities children need to thrive. Rarely is that accomplished on one income alone. Judgy McJudgersons also need to realize that women are becoming breadwinners too, which means that dad can step in and do the same duties OUR mothers did. Believe it or not, washers and dryers and other household appliances are not sexist. They will operate no matter what anatomy the user possesses.

So let’s just find some common ground, and that is we ALL have it hard. If you are the stay-at-home mom who CAN make it to all the important school dates for her children, chances are you are burnt out at times, and would welcome a break from dad or grandma. If you are a working mom who misses out on Susie’s piano recital because you have a mandatory meeting at work, we understand you would rather be watching your little girl on stage, than under the florescent lights a conference room brings. If you are one of the stressed out mamas of the ‘sandwich generation’ faced with the impossible decision of whether to attend Johnny’s big soccer tournament, or your mom’s oncology appointment, we get it. And finally, if you are a mom whose mother is running for President of the United States of America, and you are on the road campaigning for her while she is ill, which means dad will take your daughter to her first day of preschool instead of you, moms who ‘get it’ understand. Besides, there is always next year.

Photo credit: Travelin’ Librarian via Visual hunt / CC BY-NC-SA

Kimberly Patterson

Kimberly Patterson is a writer, wife and mother of two adorable, over-zealous toddlers. She spends her days in yoga pants, pecking away at the keys on her laptop and pulling her kids off of whatever household furniture they climb upon. She has been published on The Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, Her View From Home, The Mighty, and several other publications. Read more of her insights at truthisinthewriting.com.

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