I recently read an Instagram post from a fellow mom blogger by the name of @mayavorderstrasse. She addressed “mommy shaming,” and it was SO good. In a nutshell, another mother shamed Maya for having enough time to pose for pictures with her twins, and said that she was a real mother because of not having the time of day with having eight children. One of my favorite parts of Maya’s response was “Don’t contribute to a judgmental & hateful culture that destroys women’s self-esteem and confidence. You don’t know their story.”
From the outside looking in, I saw an overwhelmed mom in desperate need of support who allowed her cry for help to turn into negativity toward another mother. I saw a mom who couldn’t understand how another mother had so much “free” time on her hands in order to stage an at-home photo shoot. A mother who couldn’t understand how someone could make motherhood look so easy when her world is filled with constant screaming, crying, feeding, toys, homework and more! She didn’t realize that in the mist of her negative feelings toward her personal experience with motherhood tore down another woman pushing through her own motherhood struggles. It appeared as if she was trying to uplift herself and commend herself on how great she is at managing a household of eight kids, but put down another mom in the process. That’s not the way to go about it, but I honestly can not blame that woman for feeling the way that she did. Now, she could have had self-control and kept her words/feelings to herself, BUT I too know how it feels to compare your journey to someone else’s. In my thoughts, I want to say that mom followed Maya on Instagram because she originally loved the content on her page, but she had a moment.
I decided to blog about this because I’ve noticed that mother’s not only struggle with shaming other mothers, but majority of the time we shame ourselves. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard mothers, young and old, say “I’m not doing enough,” “I wish I could do more for my baby,” “I feel like I’m never there for my baby because I’m always at work.” So when you go on social media and see women doing all the things you wish you could, or living the life you can only dream of, you find yourself in the dark hole I like to call the comparison trap. I’ve more recently found myself thinking the following: “Do you know how lucky you are to even be a mother?” “You better not cry, there are women crying and begging God to bless them with children.” “There are moms that wish they could have this much time with their children, but they’re either sick or dead, and you’re irritated? The nerve!” I’ll stop there before I get carried away, but you get the picture.
This week alone I found myself wondering if other mothers feel like they can truly express their irritation with their child(ren) and their desperate need of “me time,” without fearing they have hurt or offended someone who wishes they were in their shoes. It’s hurts me to say this, but I’ll be honest. I almost got mad at a non-existent situation. I told myself “It’s not fair if a woman who has experienced loss or can not conceive makes me feel bad for what I’m going through. It’s rude because I already sympathize with her as a woman and mother, so I shouldn’t feel more guilty about my life.” The crazy thing is that my thoughts were not directed to ANYONE! It was my imagination. But even in that moment, I started to shame a woman who did not exist. A woman who had her own struggles. I shamed the imaginary woman who was hurting deep down inside because I felt guilty about not seeing the stars, unicorns and rainbow when I was interacting with my children. In a matter of minutes I shamed myself and another woman because of my own insecurities. I judged that woman. I probably destroyed the self-esteem and confidence that she worked so hard at re-building after her struggle.
I apologized to her, and I hope that imaginary woman accepted my apology. I never meant to make her feel bad about her hurtful situation. I said those things out of fear. I personally felt like I needed to like (I always love my children, but sometimes I don’t like them *Kanye Shrug*) my kids all the time because I feared that I would lose them and wish that I had never felt an ounce of frustration toward them.
I really am a work in progress. I like to call myself a masterpiece that will never be finished. There will always be a part of me that will need a little more work. I’m pretty sure there are women who have been reading my blog and are thinking “I would have NEVER known she thought about herself in that way.” That’s what we do. But like Maya said, you don’t know my story. That picture you see on social media is a reflection of a moment. Don’t get me wrong, I’m intentional about being happy and looking at my life with a positive view and optimism, but you never know what truly goes on behind that lens. It’s just a matter of perception.
As women, as mothers, and as wives, we have to remember that we are not in competition with one another. We are a part of this exclusive society that allows us to give and receive nourishment from one another. Instead of looking at another woman’s happiness and getting upset because that’s not you, tell yourself that you’re going to be intentional about living a happier life. Remember that happiness is a choice. Rather than add negativity to another woman’s struggle because of your own insecurities, reach out and connect with that woman. You don’t know how beneficial you two could be to one another. I love each and every woman who reads this post, and I apologize in advance to anyone who I may have hurt or offended with my honesty. Please know that I am not a monster, I’m just human.
I love you Queens!