As moms in this ever-changing, always connected world we have an experience unique from our parents and grandparents. We live in a society that, while not yet perfect, has far more gender equality than generations before us. This means that women are doing more than ever. We are balancing careers, furthering education, volunteering, pursuing hobbies, maintaining social ties, and still putting our full focus into motherhood. On top of that, we are always connected to the world through social media and internet use.
While this is a great thing, it also has a downside. By maintaining an online presence or by taking on so much, it seems we have opened ourselves up to the criticisms of those around us. Our choices regarding work, parenting, marriage, and just lifestyle, in general, seem to raise questions in others. No matter what we do there is someone who disagrees with us. That fact alone is fine, people disagree and vary in opinion. I have always felt that differences in belief and opinion are what makes us so awesome. The problem, though, comes in when we try and force others to adhere to our beliefs. No longer do we have a culture of debate and conversation but instead we’ve created one of judgment. In the spectrum of motherhood, this judgment comes out in the form of sanctimonious mommy shaming.
Our decisions as mothers are constantly under attack.
The debate over being a good mom seems never-ending. Bottle or breast? Career or stay at home? Religious or agnostic? Organic or generic? Family time or mommy time? Home cooked or take out? Helicopter or free range? Co-sleep or separate bedrooms? Drug-free birth or epidural? Natural birth or Cesarean? Clean house or messy house? Fitness junkie or snack food fiend? Structured or unstructured? The list goes on and on and on.
I find a bit of irony in how often moms criticize the choice of other moms. I am beyond certain nobody wants their parenting choices questioned. Whether it’s by a stranger or a friend, we are usually hurt by the suggestion that we aren’t doing what’s best for our families. If you wouldn’t like somebody judging, then why would you ever judge someone else?
I am not going to pretend self-righteous people only exist in the current generation. Obviously, everyone, at every age, knows people like this. I do believe, though, that the internet has given a greater reach to their behavior. It allows people to judge from afar in a way that never existed before. People are far less likely to diminish your decisions to your face than they are through text. This is a major problem, though.
As mothers, we should be supporting each other, not tearing each other down.
We need to recognize that every mom is dealing with a completely unique motherhood experience. No two children are the same and therefore every mom has their own unique struggle. People do what is right for their families and at the end of the day, it’s nobody else’s place to judge that. So often, I hear the sentiment that if people have an online personality than they have opened themselves up to judgment. As if existing online give others the right to pass judgment. That simply is not true. I can only speak to my own experience and what I know from family and friends. However, I can say with confidence that nobody posts something online seeking an appraisal.
As somebody with a heavy online presence, I reject the philosophy that I am opening myself up to judgment. I share snippets of my life for many reasons. I want to bring people joy. I want to let overworked moms know they aren’t alone. I want to help people find balance and work toward living their best life. I want to build a community of open-minded individuals. I want to help women be strong. I want to lend my voice to those not being heard. I want to offer advice for someone struggling in some trial I have experienced. I want to remind people that beauty exists in this world. I want to inspire people and help them deepen their human connections.
Never do I want to be judged on my approach to parenting or judge others for theirs.
So, this is what I ask. If you find yourself about to say something that might come off as judgmental, reconsider it. If your reading an article about someone whose approach on motherhood is so different from your own it makes you cringe, simply move on. There is no need to comment. If you find yourself in the comment section aghast as to how people chose to feed their kids, click away from it. There is no need to tell anyone to know better and do better. Unless someone is putting their child in true danger, then save your comments.
The reality is that motherhood is hard. It is the hardest job I have ever had in my entire life. It is challenging, stressful, exhausting, and ever-changing. It is also beautiful, inexplicable, and incredibly rewarding. But it is always, without fail, difficult. We can make it easier on each other, though, because we are all in this together.
Motherhood is the largest tribe on earth. By being mothers, we share a knowing bond with millions of women on earth. While each of us may have unique struggles, we should always be there to lift each other up. Let’s push aside all our preconceived notions and support each other whole-heartedly.
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