What in the heck is up with mommy-shaming these days?
As women, we’re supposed to be this impenetrable force that can juggle a zillion tasks at once, run a household, organize the kids, and look good while doing it. But lately, it seems that the harshest group of critics out there is exactly that same “impenetrable force" that is supposed to unite us (i.e. our fellow mommies). If you like to enjoy a glass of wine on the weekdays, or take your kids to PG-13 movies, or let them stay up until midnight on the weekends, you can bet there’s somebody out there who has something to say about it. And somebody is likely a woman, and furthermore, likely a fellow mother. And yes, she is judging you.
I don’t know when it became so popular to criticize other moms for their every waking move, but the headlines I’ve been reading lately (I admit, they are usually from US Weekly or People), have caused me to cringe on more than one occasion. Let’s take Chrissy Teigen, for example. If you don’t know Chrissy, we obviously don’t read the same material… She is the supermodel wife, turned supermom, of R&B artist, John Legend. Let me give you the 15 second rundown in case you’ve been living under a rock this last year: Chrissy was super open about her fertility struggles until after years of trying to conceive she finally became pregnant (with a girl, that she apparently specifically gender-picked herself), and she rocked her pregnant body as only a supermodel can, and delivered a healthy baby (Luna) just a couple months ago, and is already K-I-L-L-I-N it with her post-baby bod.
Why does any of this matter?
Because, during her fertility struggles, mommy-shamers coast-to-coast were all Team Chrissy and uber supportive of the couple. But once the duo was well into her pregnancy and the gender-selection bomb was dropped, people went ballistic. Criticism ranged from disappointment that Teigen would prefer a specific gender, to accusations that the couple had thrown away all male embryos in the pink-pursuit of happiness. First of all, disappointment… seriously? What bearing does their child’s sex have on your life? The only plausible answer I could come up with was that certain shamers were already jealous of baby girl Teigen’s ridiculously awesome genetic pool. Like we haven’t all known a girlfriend who wanted to have a girl, or every dad EVER who wanted to have a boy...and don't we all have certain friends (ahem, or ourselves) who would have picked the gender of our own baby if given the opportunity? Chrissy and John chose to have a girl… SO WHAT? Pink or blue - what's it to you? They aren’t the first couple to do so, and they won’t be the last.
What's up with date nights?
The internet trolls hardly let the couple rest once baby Luna made her earthly appearance. The happy (and tired) parents were spotted out on a dinner date night 9 days post-birth, and again, mom-shamers across the nation had something to say about the decision to leave their child alone (you know, despite being in the presence of a highly qualified caregiver). I’m sure Mom & Dad didn’t think about her once during the course of their meal, or talk about her incessantly the entire time. How dare they have a mommy-daddy moment alone to just enjoy each other’s company. The nerve of some people… Again, are these mommy-shamers just jealous or are they actually snarky fun-haters? Either way, Chrissy and John aren't alone; 60% of new parent couples wish they could spend more time together. So the next time you find yourself lamenting over someone else's parenting skills or relationship goals, get over it, get off your a$$, and focus on planning a date instead.
Shame on you!
My next biggest pet peeve: mommy-body-shaming. If you gain too much weight, people stare. If you gain too little weight, people talk. If you don’t lose the baby weight, people criticize. If you lose the weight too quickly, people call you selfish. Wait… what? Is there really such a thing as losing the weight too quickly? Just ask Chrissy. After posting a photo on social media a couple weeks post-baby, mommies everywhere went to work faulting her for being more concerned about her own appearance than worrying about being a mother. I suppose being concerned about maintaining a healthy body weight does make her selfish (insert annoyed eye roll). Apparently becoming a mother means having to cash in your sexy, look-good-feel-good card. Hardly! The fit life isn't for everybody, but if you put in the work, you should absolutely enjoy the perks. Newsflash body-shamers: calling out a thin person for losing too much weight is no different than calling out an overweight person for gaining too much weight. When you judge a woman by her appearance you are defining your insecurities, not hers.
Look, women have it rough already. If you dress too frumpy people say you’ll never make it anywhere. If you dress too flashy, people question your motives. If you have brunette hair, you are instantly perceived as being more intelligent than your blonde friends. If you are too pretty, people think there is no way you can be smart too. It’s a dog eat dog world. And then you throw in kids and parenthood, and the she-wolves really come out to attack.
The bounce back time for all new mommies is different. While being healthy certainly ranks high, so does one's emotional well being and happiness. If losing the weight and getting back to your pre-baby bod is important, more power to you! Mommy body shaming isn't just for those who can't lose the weight, but affects even those who do. Damned if you do, damned if you don't.
How about a paradigm shift instead?
How about rather than judging, we start appreciating the differences that make us all unique. Like Chrissy Teigen. She’s a model for heaven’s sake. It’s her job to look good! And if she is comfortable leaving her daughter at home with a caregiver 9 days post-birth, more power to her. Parenting is a massive life shift and not everyone will handle it the same way. Being overprotective doesn't necessarily make you a better parent than your laid back mommy friends. Truly, it doesn't.
I let my son watch cartoons and eat Oreos...only the golden kind though...more often than I should. I've taken him to see Captain America, The Avengers, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in the movie theater (yeah, he's only 5). He has his own Netflix profile, plays video games on my iPad, and has a litany of apps downloaded on my iPhone. His dad and I love to have parents' nights off and even stay out until 2AM sometimes (gasp!). I drag my son to the gym some days and some days he drags me there. We argue, we fight, he storms out of the room often, I collapse with a glass of wine... We make up quickly, we love hard, and we laugh often. I'm not perfect, his dad isn't perfect, and our son certainly isn't either. But despite the parenting differences from my peers, I don't think I should have to face a firing squad for it.
We are all made differently. Your long torso-ed friends will carry babies very different than your pint-sized Snooki friends. You may have stretch marks while others do not. Blame your mom. You may raise your children very strictly compared to your friend down the street who let their kids eat popsicles and watch movies until 11 each night. Furthermore, first time mommies behave very differently than second and third time mommies. Just because you’ve traveled down the road before doesn’t mean you get to tell other mommies how to think, feel, act, and behave.
Ask yourself this. Are their actions harming you? Are their actions harming your children? Do their actions (or the outcomes) have any bearing on your life specifically? Stop shaming others because you think you have it all figured out. You don’t. You probably aren't the expert you think you are.
There is no such thing as a perfect parent, but there are millions of great parents. We all have proud moments and horrible moments. We all make mistakes. If another mommy’s actions have nothing to do with how you live your life, shrug off the decisions you disagree with, applaud the ones you do, and let Chrissy get back to wearing crop tops and going on dinner dates with her husband.