I’m not even a mom to a birthed baby yet, but I already feel the Mom Shaming vibe. While I’m not out in the real world just yet (thanks pandemic) mom shaming is alive and well online. From Instagram to Facebook groups, articles and social media in general.
I’ve seen it happen to others and I’ve experienced a bit myself (from IVF to pregnancy), so I wanted to speak out about it.
It’s a Thing
Mom shame / mom guilt / mom shaming is a thing. I have often heard from experienced mom friends that mom shaming and judgement is one of the harder parts of mom-hood. That shame can come from outside sources or bubble up internally. I think it’s often a combination of both.
I knew it was coming. But during a pandemic pregnancy, can’t we all try to give each other a break?
Sharing my experience thus far, and how I plan to deal with it..
Where Mom Shaming Comes From
It is all around us. And the online presence of it can be pretty sharp, blunt and insensitive. It’s so easy to hide behind a screen. Sometimes it comes from a blatant bully – a stranger or someone you know in real life – and other times – probably more often – it comes from a well-meaning person who has no clue the pain they inflicted.
And it feels even more intense when it bubbles up from an internal source. Our own negative talk, mom guilt. Yes, we each carry shame around in some way, but luckily internal shame is the easiest to stomp out in my opinion. Working on creating self-esteem around your mom choices may be the best self-care act you can do for yourself. I mean…
…Really? Time to start building yourself up – NOW! You got this mom or mom-to-be or wannabe mom or child-free-by-choice non mom!
Opinion-Giving Isn’t New
People love to give their opinions just by nature. We all know that. And we all deal with it in LIFE. I’m 39 and I have basically acquired a thick enough skin to deal with random negativity in my everyday life.
But when it comes to being a mom, your kids, your pregnancy, your emotions around motherhood (or lack of it), your choices as a mom – it can feel especially sensitive.
So yeah, mom-shaming and beyond is a thing. Check out these articles:
- Why Moms Mom-Shame – Parents
- 19 Things Pregnant Women Got Shamed for that will Make Your Blood Boil – BuzzFeed
- The Internet Is Applauding – Calling Out Pregnancy Shamers – Scary Mommy
- Stopping the Mom Shame on Social Media – New Mom Health
- 6 Things You Probably Never Realized are IVF Shaming – Cafe Mom
- Infertility Shaming is Alive and Well, Just Ask Chrissy Teigen – New Hope Fertility
- 5 Types of Mom Shame and How to Shut Them Down – RD.com
- Mom Shame Made Me Question Everything About Myself – HealthLine
And then this headline…
- Stop Mom-Shaming the Mom-Shamers – TODAY
Mom Shaming Reaches Far and Wide…
A few topics that you may feel it from…
- Breastfeeding or not?
- Epidural or not?
- C-section or V-birth?
- Vegan or Paleo or Whatever Diet?
- Exercise during pregnancy or not?
- Stay-at-home moms vs working moms?
- Cloth diapers vs disposable?
- Too much or too little weight gain.
- You’re naming your kid, THAT?
- You put THAT on your registry?
- You are letting your baby sleep WHERE?
- Are you doing a home birth?
- You’re STILL breastfeeding?
- Your baby bump is TOO SMALL or TOO BIG.
- Are you taking your prenatal?
- You’re sharing photos of your kid online?
- Public or private school?
- Daycare or not?
- Plastic toys or wood toys?
- Potty Training at what age?
- Sleep training or not?
- Co-sleeping or crib?
- Non-toxic or whatever you can find/afford.
- Organic food always or when you can or never?
- You’re too YOUNG / OLD to have kids.
And pandemic topics…
- You’re HAVING a baby shower in a pandemic?? You’re JUDGING me for having one?
- You wore a mask in your car?
- You didn’t wear a mask at all?
And social sharing…
- Are you posting about your pregnancy online?
- That’s too personal to share … that person doesn’t share anything.
And this one, which I heard yesterday…
- Are you actually complaining about anything pregnancy-related online — you should just be grateful. Remember when you wished you were pregnant?
…That last one hits home because I received it yesterday on Instagram. I was being pretty open and honest and vulnerable about my grief surrounding not being able to have a baby shower. Such a trivial thing, YES, but also something that so many pandemic-pregnant moms are feeling.
And those ‘just be grateful’ vibes really stung. Especially since I wake up everyday and rub my tummy and smile feeling insanely grateful in so many ways. I try so hard to express that publicly, but also — I’m human. And being pregnant during a pandemic kinda sucks. Complaining doesn’t mean you don’t have complicated feelings and sway back and forth from gratitude to being human and feeling grief.
Pregnant or not — everyone has the right to grieve something right now – no matter how trivial it may seem to others.
I think about those students without proms or graduations. Missing their friends or just feeling sad because they can’t go to their fave park to play. TRIVIAL things, but also – real feelings that are 100% ok to have and share.
“From small losses to giant ones, the world is grieving.
For many of us, facing this level of grief is unfamiliar and overwhelming, and we’re unsure how to process the intensity. Our “work hard, think happy thoughts” culture is great for a lot of things, but it makes talking about grief really hard.”– Megan Devine, therapist + author — ‘Navigating this epidemic of Grief’
How Do I Cope When I Feel Some Mom Shame?
To cope, I self-soothe: Positive self-talk. Use my backbone of self-esteem and confidence in myself. But that doesn’t always work. Some days are more tender than others.
So when that isn’t enough, I seek out my people! So a few days ago, I went into one of my many private pregnancy Facebook groups and asked about mom shaming and referenced the comment that hurt a bit. Luckily, I received 55+ comments agreeing with my emotions and response. It made me feel so much better to know I wasn’t alone. And my feelings were totally valid to share.
Some people just don’t get it — and that’s ok.
Anyone who tells you to ‘just be grateful’ – after an infertility journey, and during a pandemic where you haven’t seen literally ANYONE except your OB and cats and husband your entire pregnancy – probably doesn’t know where you are coming from when you say you are sad about no baby shower. And don’t get the symbolic nature of what the ‘baby shower’ represents in this whole pandemic pregnancy. And I know that.
Pandemic Pregnancies are Kinda Weird.
Some articles + videos + interviews chatting about this…
- Coronavirus Adds New Anxieties for Pregnant Women – LA Times
- Tips to Manage Pandemic Pregnancy Stress – UTSW Med
- So You’re Having a Baby During a Pandemic? – NY Times
- What to Know About Being Pregnant During the COVID-19 Pandemic – Washington Post
- Pregnant in a pandemic: Moms-to-be have no visitors, lots of anxiety – Kansas City Star
- COVID-19 crisis changes hopes, dreams of first time mother-to-be – Town Talk
- Mental Health Tips During a Pandemic Pregnancy – Voice Online
For me, mom-shaming goes WAY back. Three years back when I decided I was going to make an appointment at a fertility clinic and investigate treatment options – and eventually start my treatment journey.
Most people were supportive and just curious about IVF. But there are always the mom-shamers. The people who cannot keep negative opinions to themselves.
For infertility moms, we’ve heard it all..
- Why don’t you just ADOPT?
- IVF is dangerous.
- IVF is too expensive.
- You should just accept that you might not become a mom.
- Just be happy for what you have.
- It will ‘just happen’ eventually.
- Science babies?????
- Don’t TELL people you’re kid is via IVF.
- You spent HOW MUCH on your kid? That’s nuts.
- Medication of ANY kind is so dangerous during pregnancy.
- Messing with your hormones is so dangerous. I would never do that.
- An on and on…
I chatted more about my What Infertility Feels Like moments in this post.
People Love Their Opinions… Says Jerry
It’s funny, we watched the new Seinfeld comedy show on Netflix last night and there was a segment on how people just love to give their opinions – it’s human nature. They will say just about anything just to give an opinion – even if their opinion makes no sense. Jerry explains it much better than me, lol. It was a really funny show if you need a laugh. The very last part about movie theaters had us roaring. I was crying tears it was so funny to me. But anyways…
How Will I Handle Mom Shaming Online?
It will happen. Especially with the nature of my career and passion for sharing. But I’m ready. I am so excited to share this journey. Sharing and connecting online is a BEAUTIFUL thing.
But when the online bullies chime in….
I will feel it pretty deeply for a moment. (Sensitive person problems.) Then I’ll take a deep breath and either respond or delete.
Unfortunately, you can’t delete people in real life. So my usual response is to just smile and move on. Remove myself from the situation. You can do that online too!
Don’t waste your energy on people who just don’t get it. Save your energy for the people who do get it. And love + support you without judgement.
It may be human nature to judge. But it’s not human nature to be mean. IMO.
Hurt people – hurt people.
Gossiping is a Social Activity + We All Do it Sometimes
I will always believe that people are intrinsically good and kind at their core. Gossiping doesn’t make you a bad person. From a good distance, it’s totally normal and maybe even healthy – maybe even good for you! I mean, we all make silly comments when watching reality TV or The Oscars red carpet, etc…
People are fascinating! It’s impossible to not have reactions to other people. To analyze. Even compare a little. Why do you think Instagram is so popular? Humans love to see what others are doing. I think the entire Real Housewives Series is built around drinking and judging. (Ha.) And people love it!!
I 100% agree that this world can be a serious place and we all need to have a healthy sense of humor about ourselves. But..
Some things just feel more sacred. Motherhood being one of them.
And there is a fine line between fun and socializing and being mean.
When Judgments Turn Sour..
When judging / shaming creeps (or lurches full force) into someone else’s life and relationships – that is a problem….
The difference between analyzing people for fun and creating something negative really comes from what you do with your opinions. How accurate they actually are. And where they end up. Who they affect – who they influence. Directly or indirectly.
The Root Cause?
For me, I have noticed that when I feel most confident about myself and HAPPY, I tend to judge less. And it feels GOOD. Don’t want drama. Don’t feel like I need negativity. I am more apt to celebrate others and cheer people on in my thoughts and words. And it becomes this lovely cycle of positive energy. And THAT feels so much better than anything happening on Housewives. However entertaining they are, ha.
Message to Moms and Non-Moms
It doesn’t matter if you are a mom, wannabe mom, never-want-to-be-a-mom, pet-mom, aunty, surrogate mom, grand-mom or somewhere in between. Women have so much power when they come together. They can hurt and heal together in powerful ways. So I hope the next time I think something judgemental for whatever reason, I come back to a place of love and understanding on this truth:
We are all just doing the best we can.
And we all deserve love and support and light. And if you have something negative swirling in your head, just keep it there until it fizzles away. Don’t put it our in the world without some serious thought.
Women have enough shit to deal with, mouths to feed, people to take care of, work to get done, bills to pay and dreams to conquer. I just want to build women up – and hope you will join me too in that goal.
And when all else fails, realize that you have to love yourself first. Be confidant in who YOU are. And realize all the badass things you have done in your life so far. And walk right past anyone who doesn’t see all those things too.
Love you all and sending so much support to women, moms and non-moms everywhere.
My very first mom’s day flowers EVER from my sweet friend Cat…. Women supporting women is one of my fave things ever.
pps. To the boys reading this who made it this far. I hope you take some time to appreciate this whole concept of mom-shaming. I don’t think guys and dads get it as much. (Do they?) And just acknowledging that you know it happens could really help the women in your life.