Recently I was mom shamed. It wasn't the first time, and if I had to guess, it will not be the last. I am still alive, but I've been wondering ever since it happened: What's with mom shaming?
I have taken a few personality tests over the years and I never believe the results when they are returned. Oh that's not me! (I always think) - but in reality, it is. Consistently, one trait that I am called out for is being strongly empatheic towards others. While this makes me great at my job, I also consider it a weakness. To feel for others so strongly can bump me down and sometimes even off the list of considering my own feelings when making decisions. I have been at the very least, unkind and unmerciful to myself at times. I decided to work on this recently. Better late than later right? I am a work in progress (and always will be), however the mom shaming naturally makes me question: What's really her problem, and what can I do about it?
When we are not comparing ourselves with others, their actions can't penitrate our personal happiness. Sounds good right? I just made that up. There is likely something out there simlar already. But I think it's true.
So here is a short list of my thoughts on being mom shamed over my sons 2016 class Valentines.
1. I only have one child. He's 3 years old. He will only be 3 years old once. Would I have made the same Valentine's if I had more than one child to do it for? I don't know the answer to that. Regardless, so what. Whatever you did or didn't do is fine. I am not trying to show you up or out do you. You're a great mom. Valentine's don't define you.
2. If you used Pinterest for your idea, good for you. If you picked up a box of cards at the store, good for you. If you didn't do anything, good for you. I pieced ours together from the dollar bin at Target, and you know what? Good for me. Valentine's Day is once a year. You're more resilient daily as a mom then you may realize (what choice do we have after being told "no" in one way or another by little voices over and over) and bonus: Feburary is the shortest month so this "mom life" crisis will pass quickly.
3. I thought about you when I created the Valentines. What about moms who may not have time? May not be able to spend a few extra dollars? May not celebrate Valentine's day? I thought about all of it. We all fall into these categories and more all the time. I thought about everyone's feelings and realized that I can't make everyone happy all of the time. In this situtation, I did what made me and my son happy. That felt good. Teaching my son to think of others is important to me. Activities (regardless of the size) that involve doing things for others are one of the many ways that I try to spend quality time with my son. It's my way, and it doesn't have to be yours. You are doing a good job in your way.
4. I work a full time job. Its no harder or easier then your job be that if you're an office mom or stay at home mom. I have feelings about my personal situtation as I am sure you have feelings about yours. I know the days that I only get to spend a few moments tucking my son in at night are hard at my house....on everyone. Regardless, my son likes to go to school. Largely, its due to his friendships. This means a lot to me since it's my only option to have him in daycare for full days. Long days. I appreciate your positive influence on your childs life which is seen when he/she forms a friendship or shows kindness to my son. This is one very small way we are saying Thank You to you and your child. Seriously, Thank you.
5. I've looked forward to being a mom. You may have too. Or maybe not. Either way, these little people are game changing. We all want better for our kids then we had. None of us know exactly what to do in every situtation. Dads included (gasp!). We all worry from time to time. This shit is hard. And stressful. Some people hide it better then others but its real. Some days are better then others. We are all tired, physically and emotionally. Crafting the Valentine's, after a particularly hectic week, was a stress relief for the 30 minutes I spent putting them together. Weird? Maybe. So what. Do what helps you. You're a stronger mom then you think.
My response to being mom shamed over silly Valentine's was shorter then this post (lucky for them!). I mean what I've said here, but sometimes less is more depending on the situtation. Instead of shaming, what if we said something uplifting in that moment. Hearing the words: I hate moms like you! generated the likely unexpected, non retaliatory short and honest response from me of:
I think you're a great mom too.
And in reply I saw the right corner of her mouth turn up ever so slightly.
And we left it at that.