If you’re a mother, you’ve been there. In that moment, you’re desperate. You’d do almost anything to quiet that kiddo down. You tried bribing – something you swore you’d never do. You attempted to bargain with God – “Lord, if you magically put this kid to sleep, I swear I’ll do anything you want!” But, no can do. That monster of yours has just reached a high screech that makes dogs whine, and there is no calming them down. You’re this close to pulling your own hair out. You shoot apologetic glances to those around you who have to listen to your screaming child. And then it happens. Mom-Shaming.
There is nothing worse than standing in a long line at the store with a child who’s throwing a fit. Unless of course, there is someone who is telling you what a terrible mother you are while you’re standing in line with a child who’s throwing a fit. That is most definitely worse.
I’ve often wondered what is going through the mind of a mom-shamer. Do they think their harsh words will give you some sort of ah-ha moment that will make you mysteriously get your kid to stop crying? “Wow! Thank you for telling me what a terrible mother I am – I’ve seen the light!” Does it make them feel superior? No offence, but they should aim higher as that’s not exactly a mother’s best moment. Maybe they really think they have the answers. But if that were the case, what about that delivery is helpful? I try to always assume the best intentions of those with whom I interact. But no matter how I try, I can’t come up with a positive spin on mom-shaming.
It breaks my heart to think that women can be so mean-hearted to one another. Motherhood is hard. (Understatement of the century, right?) So why is it that when we see a mom in a moment of struggle, we decide to (metaphorically) kick her?
Everyone has their own idea of the “correct” way to raise a child. Most mothers are open to advice, especially if this is their first rodeo. But if you get nothing else from this post, please understand this: no one wants advice in the form of hostility. That is not helpful. In fact, it makes the situation far worse. Which brings me back to the question of intention.
Here are three things I’ve learned about mom-shaming.
- Mom-shaming isn’t about you.
Most mom-shaming happens from someone who has no idea who you are, or what you have been through. In the example I used at the beginning of this blog, the mom-shamer probably doesn’t know that your child caused most of the items in aisle 15 to fall on the ground in the store and that he hit his sister not once, not twice, but three times in the last ten minutes, and he’s screaming at the top of his lungs because you said he couldn’t have a KitKat bar. She doesn’t know that due to this chain of events, you’ve reached your limit. She also has no idea that you kissed his boo-boo earlier, how he always says “pwease and tank you” thanks to your superb mommying skills, or how you read to him out of a children’s bible every day. It’s in this chaotic moment, with your red face, the vein popping out of your forehead and wild eyes, that this person judged you. I promise it says more about that person than it does you.
- We’ve all done it.
Many of you are fiercely denying that we have mom-shamed before. But think about it. In your whole life, have you ever looked at a mother and judged them? The answer is yes. We mustn’t forget that we all make mom-mistakes and that mom-shaming only makes these mistakes harder to get over. Listen, we are forgiven by the creator of the universe for everything we have ever done and will ever do. This is not limited to motherhood, but everything. If the creator – the one true God – can forgive us anything, who are we to cast judgement on a mother just trying to do her best? Would it kill us to say something nice and encouraging to her? What if we said, “do you need anything? Can I help you in some way?” Or “I’ve totally been there. It gets better.”
- In the end, it doesn’t matter.
The mom-shamer will go their way, and you yours. Sure, your pride is hurt and you’ll tell someone about that mean person at the store. You’ll question why God gave you these children when you’re doing such a “terrible job” raising them. But then your baby, the very one who seemed possessed in the store, will crawl on your lap and look at you with big eyes and say, “I love you, mommy”. And you’ll feel sorry for that mom-shamer because she only saw the worst instead of what was really there: true, pure, unconditional love.
Mom-shaming is no different than bullying. People are so quick to judge other moms when we should be celebrating moms. This mom gig is hard! We shine sometimes and just plain stink other times. But isn’t that life in general? I challenge you to “Mom-celebrate”! When you see a mom doing great, show kindness and pray for them. When you see a mom struggling, offer to help, show kindness, and pray for them. It’s really very simple. Choose kindness. Show love. Mom-celebrate!
And he gives grace generously. As the Scriptures say, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6 (NLT)
So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. Hebrews 4:16 (NLT)
Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32 (NLT)