Accidental Mommy Shaming – or a Lesson in Compassion

I want to start off this post by saying that it’s not aimed at anyone in particular. There. That’s my Disclaimer with a capital D. This is not a rant, but it is me getting a little bit on my soap box.

A little back story: I came into my daughter’s life when she was already 4. We walked a fine line. We wanted to be good role models so we didn’t live together before marriage, sleep-overs were arranged only when she was with her mom, and when I came over for dinner or play dates when Em was around, I made sure that she was my focus. And still, I was childless. 3 to 4 days out of the week, I still got to be my normal bachelorette self, child-free, with a certain level of privacy.

And then we got married and I went from childless with only myself to take care of (and an occasional roommate) to instant Mom. And then I got pregnant. Everything was new with Nat and I expected my husband to have all the answers and when he didn’t, I freaked.

20140517_122838

I traded in laying in bed all day playing video games for these trouble makers- No Regrets =)

Being a Mom is super difficult because everything I do, I think “How will this affect my children?” From something as simple as, I try to greet my daughter first when I walk in the door, because I don’t want her to think I’m playing favorites if I go to my son first. It probably doesn’t help that I’m an emotional person and over think pretty much everything. But isn’t that what mother’s do?

Recently, there has been a lot of Mommy-shaming going on, sometimes in a passive-aggressive way and sometimes in a very direct way. And I’m not entirely sure why people think that this is how to get people to change or get that what they are doing “is wrong”. Typically, how it goes is you say (or don’t even mention) a topic, and someone responds with something terrifying that makes you want to go crawl into a hole and die.

Example 1 -

Me: Man, I’m exhausted.

Person listening: It’s because you let Nat sleep in bed with you! He’ll never sleep in his own bed now.

Me: oh…

Example 2 –

Me: I’m worried because my son is 15 months and not walking yet.

Person: You know if you didn’t work, you’d be able to stay home with him and work on these things. Instead, he has to go to daycare. Do they even pay attention to him?

Me: … (and now I’m freaking out about my daycare – something, I really can’t freak out about as a working mom.)

There are more: Suggestions on when I should stop nursing, how I should or shouldn’t spoil my children, how many pets we should or should have, and it really makes me think. What if instead of telling me how it’s going to mess my children up, or telling me some horrible story, if you took a step back, slipped on my super comfy boots and saw it my way.

And maybe this is a lesson to just how to change the way we think, in general.

Instead of making the assumption that whatever I am doing is going to adversely affect my child, maybe it’s time to ask, why I chose that route.   I chose to co-sleep because after spending 2 months struggling to nurse, I became a pro at it, and found it was the perfect way to help my son sleep and sleep soundly. It helped calm my insane anxiety about him at night. It helped me sleep better, which lead me to being more rested, which lead me to not be so short with my daughter and lead me to be able to function at work. Oh, and I haven’t killed my husband in a sleepless, stress driven rage yet either. So it’s working out well for the entire family.

With such severe anxiety, I do try to focus on the positive, avoid cynicism, and remove negativity from my life. It can be hard. There are some negative things that you can’t completely edit out of your life, but I do think that we should all maybe ask why people choose the decisions that they do, and try to understand it from their perspective, before immediately making a decision that what they are doing “is wrong”. And in the end, the most important thing is – it’s none of your business how I choose to raise my children, just as it is none of my business how you raise yours. All children react differently to situations and stimuli, so there is not just one right way or answer and you can’t predict how a child is going to react. So next time, before we speak, take some time to think about the why behind the action, versus immediately telling horror stories or telling someone that their parenting-style is wrong. Give it a try.

Ps: After 15 months of co-sleeping, we decided a week ago to start actively moving Nat into his crib.  Last night, he slept the whole night in his crib!!

Jamie Webster

About Jamie Webster

Just your average blogger. Married 2 years with two wonderful children who are 6 years apart. Little about me: I’m turning 30 this year (yikes), have had 8 foot surgeries in 8 years and have spent a little over 4 years of my life in and out of a wheel chair (or scooter). And today, I am running 5ks. I attribute two major changes in my life to my healing: the power of goal setting and going gluten free.