Yesterday I dropped a PlayStation controller on my child’s face. Actually, it fell off of a shelf four feet above the ground, directly into the eye of my newborn. The baby everyone describes as the Gerber baby now looks more like a bar fight baby.
Then, I texted my girlfriends. Instead of asking if I should call the pediatrician or seeking out solidarity, I immediately mom-shamed myself. I said, “Just gave the baby a black eye with a remote, call me mom of the year!” As it turns out, they had all done similar things. I got the solidarity but sought it out through mom shaming myself.
I’m not the only one who does this. It’s no secret that as moms we spend far too much time beating ourselves up mentally over the small things. How many times have you received one of these texts from a friend, or said something similar?
“My kid is eating a pouch for breakfast again, mom of the year over here!”
“I’m the worst mom, my toddler just jumped off of the couch and got a bruise the size of a softball from the coffee table.”
“Someone report me to the authorities, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse is on for the second day in a row.”
Those are all real messages I’ve sent to others in the past month. I would never judge another mom for saying these things, so why am I judging and mom shaming myself?
In my opinion, it all comes down to mom guilt. You know, the feeling that comes after doing something “wrong” that seemingly-perfect Instagram influencers seem to get right all the time. The things that even though everyone tells us it’s fine to do, we feel ashamed of. The root causes of mom guilt are deep and systemic, making it hard to avoid, even when logically, we know better.
Recently, I asked my fellow moms what they felt worst and shamed themselves the most about. The answers seemed fairly universal, and I could relate to every single one. They shared that screen time for both mama and kids, whether or not to send kids to childcare or school, taking time for themself, house cleaning, mental health struggles, and lack of patience are their big mom shame triggers. Nearly all mentioned nutrition as a trigger. And many are trying to navigate working from home while parenting during the pandemic.
Sound familiar? Yeah, for me too.
I can see myself in every one of those responses. My guess is if I have a habit of mom shaming myself over these common topics, you can too.
We really need to stop being so hard on ourselves, mamas, especially in what everyone keeps calling “these unprecedented times.”
I know it’s easier said than done, but maybe meet yourself where you are at right now, in this moment. We are in the midst of a global pandemic, a racial justice crisis, and an election year fraught with tension. It was 100 degrees yesterday. And where did those murder hornets go? Did we lose track of them? I need an update on that.
I digress. Needless to say, there is a lot happening.
We are all, parents or not, in the midst of constant change and uncertainty.
It is a stressful time. Nothing is normal about day to day life right now, for anyone. So maybe the next time you go to mom shame yourself, give the gal in the mirror a bit of grace. Why don’t you try to treat yourself the way you’d treat your friend. You wouldn’t call your best friend the worst mom in the world for bribing her kid to get in the car with a package of fruit snacks, so don’t do it to yourself, either.
My plan is to go easier on myself the next time Bounce Patrol stays on the TV for longer than usual or I throw yet another pre-packaged snack at my toddler while on a conference call. I am also going to stop apologizing for taking time for myself. I know that some days this will go better than others, but good grief, I need to stop apologizing every time I go for a walk or I give my kid a very much not organic snack (I’m looking at you, handful of stale Froot Loops).