Do you remember in grade school when you would raise your hand when you knew the correct answer? Or what about when a friend had a really cool show-and-tell session, and you wanted to be picked next, because let’s face it, your teddy bear could slay dragons and speak pig Latin, and that was way better than their pet rock. Or when you really wanted to impress the teacher, so you would fabricate a tall tale so she would give you attention (or at least that was something I did). Your hand would shoot up instantly, and you would wave your arm like the fastest setting on a metronome. Your body would begin to shake and a begging, pleading groan would shoot through your teeth. It was a matter of life and death that you be allowed to speak, and after you felt you were ignored for far too long, you would shriek, “Ooh! Ooh! Me! Me! MEEEEEEE!”
Once we become moms, we develop a reflex very similar to this. If one of our mom friends is struggling, we jump at the chance to give advice. Sometimes it is with the best intentions, but unfortunately, it could turn into mom shaming. We are so excited that we have been where they are at, that we spout off judgmental phrases without even realizing what we are saying. I am saying this for myself as much as I am for others, please stop the mom shaming. If a mother wants to breastfeed her son until he is 3-years old, or if a mother reaches for the formula bottle days after delivery, it certainly does not mean that their interests for their children are impaired. A c-section does not make you any less of a mother, and post-partum depression is very common, and it is not a sign of weakness or failure. A mother’s love for her children is the same, whether she stays at home or chooses to go to work.
Does your mom shaming come out in more subtle ways? When you observe other moms do you shrug and say, “Oh well. That’s how it goes. She needs to learn to grin and bear it.” or do you shake your head at women who have a child throwing a tantrum in a restaurant? I truly believe that we can turn the “advice button” reflex around and use it only for encouragement. This past week, on a whim, I decided to take a sheet of gold star stickers with me when I took my daughter to school. I passed the stars out to every mom I saw. I told them that they were doing a great job. Most moms seemed really appreciative. One mom slapped it to her jacket with gusto and declared “I love it!” I encourage you all to try this out yourselves. This random act of kindness helped my state of mind as well. Let’s coin this the gold star project! I further propose we become “Me Too” moms. We don’t have to weave elaborate advice tapestries filled with essential oil recipes or self-help correspondence. Just two words can change a mom’s mood: “Me too”. When we know that we are not alone it can make a world of difference. And also, we can be excited for each other in this way. Enthusiasm can work like magic to break a rotten mood. “Oooh! Oooh! I’m so glad I’m not the only one. MEEEE TOO!”
You have a sink full of dirty dishes? Me too!
You haven’t showered in three days? Me too!
You shouted at your kids after you swore today would be different? Me too!
If you have to change one more dirty diaper, you’ll have a nervous breakdown? Me too!
You gave up on potty-training, because it was just too much? Me too!
Your baby is two-years old and you’re still wearing maternity clothes? Me too!
You gave your kids left-over pie for breakfast, because you didn’t feel like going through the trouble? Me too!
You compare yourself to other moms and it depresses you? Me too!
You feel guilty for not playing with your kids more? Me too!
You didn’t get a wink of sleep last night, because you were convinced that something terrible will happen to your kids today or in the future? Me too!
You feel guilty for missing a football game or dance recital? Me too!
On one or more occasion you have felt annoyed by your kids? Me too!
You just want to be by yourself today? Me too!
You love your children. Me too!
You are doing a wonderful job. Me too!
I hope this helps someone today.
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander…Instead, be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”