Birthing – how you gave birth, where you gave birth, if you gave birth.
Breastfeeding – whether you do it, how long you do it for, where you do it, how you do it, even why you do it is apparently everybody else’s business.
Baby weight – gained enough, gained too much, didn’t lose it, proud of it, not proud of it, not caring enough about it, lost too much, posting about it too much on Instagram, bitch.
Time – the getting of a mani/pedi is actually a declaration of war. You get a mani/pedi at a fellow mum who hasn’t had a spare second to herself since 2011.
Nutrition – frankly the whole ‘what we eat around here’ debate boils down to a single vowel-switch anagram: cacao versus cocoa.
Work – SAHMs think WM are absent mothers; WMs think SAHMs are lazy mothers; both WM and SAHMs don’t understand WFHM at all. WFHM are too tired to think.
Parenting styles – the sanctimummy has been bagging out every other mother for years, but lately the slummy mummy is fighting back and the whole thing is just horrendous. For what it’s worth: kids should never be called ‘arseholes’ and some women have better things to do than clean their house. In other words: nobody gets it right.
Stuff – whether you wrap or pram, how much the pram cost, how organic the wrap is: all debates about stuff have a really weird way of morphing into a humble brag about how much money a person has.
Should I go on? Actually, I can’t. I’m writing this with a mouthful of bile just thinking about all the unnecessary judgeyness that’s out there. Because it’s awful, right? Just AWFUL.
I reckon all judgement stems from either insecurity with our own choices or jealousy of someone else’s; in other words, it’s entirely about the judge not the judged. Why else would we even care if a mother was doing something completely different to how we do things (and please, don’t tell me it’s because we ‘care about the children’ because that bile in my mouth is threatening to spill over already)? All we are doing is making every mother out there second guess her choices, feel guilty, feel ashamed and feel like she’s missing out on something important. Is that really how we want our friends / community / village / sisterhood to feel?
Fact is, we are all missing out on something important and that is respect for diversity, kindness towards others, tolerance of differences, compassion, thoughtfulness, understanding. All the qualities that we teach our children are the right way to behave. We say, “Well, maybe Florence’s bedroom is really untidy because she’s so busy being a gymnastics star” and “Perhaps that packet of chips in Percy’s lunch box is his treat for the whole week” and “Mabel likes eating anchovies, it doesn’t make her weird at all.” So many things we say.
Here’s a thought: how about we start raising ourselves a little bit better. We can use the approach we take with our kids (whatever that may be!) as the bench mark. Much like any behaviour in anyone over the age of 5, stopping the mum shaming is entirely within our control. Next time we catch ourselves thinking unkind thoughts (or saying unkind things or, god forbid, typing unkind things), let’s take a step back and remind ourselves that mums are only humum*. And humums:
- Trip up sometimes on an otherwise smooth path
- Make choices based on the reality they, and only they, are living
- Are the sum of their whole, not their parts (and not their kids!)
- Get it wrong sometimes and oh-so-right other times
- Deserve the support, love, compassion and kindness of other humums. Each and every one.
So know this: whatever your choices, be they firm choices or a way of mothering you stumbled upon late one night when your kid wouldn’t sleep, you are okay by me. I’m not going to agree with all the things you do, but I 100% respect your right to do them the way you do them and I’ll support you just as much when you’re down as I’ll wave to you when you’re up. See, I’ll be right here, doing my thing, waving to you over there, doing your thing, because we both know that it takes an awful lot of doing to create an amazing world.
What kind of mum shaming riles you up the most?
* I used this term in this post and now it won’t leave me.