By Stephanie Barnhart
I am beyond exhausted listening to all of the mom-shaming going on these days. Yet, I know that I, too, am guilty of it. Newsflash: So are you. At some point, you’ve judged another mom on the playground, or at least on Facebook.
As a first-time mom, I’ve come to this simple realization: If you are worried that you’re not a good parent, trust me, that makes you an amazing parent. It’s the parents who don’t worry that we should be worried about. So, take a step back, pat yourself on the back for being awesome, and then walk up to another parent and say, “You’re doing a great job.” No, seriously, do it. We need to start helping and stop shaming each other. You’re a parent — you understand just how hard it can be.
Here are my five biggest pet peeves when it comes to mom-shaming. They all need to stop right now!
We get it — you popped out a baby naturally, had more milk than the local dairy farm and your baby latched to your boob effortlessly. Wait, that was me. Sometimes, it’s easy to forget that not everyone had it that simple. And even if moms don’t say it, they can feel really crappy about themselves watching you whip out your boob without missing a beat in the conversation during brunch. I know this because a friend of mine was having a hard time breastfeeding. She literally tried everything, so much so that she was in tears over the fact that she just couldn’t do it. A few months back, she confessed to me that it was actually painful for her to be around me while I was breastfeeding — even though I always supported her and never said anything against her bottle-feeding. Remember: You don’t know what another mother’s reason is for not breastfeeding. Maybe she can’t, maybe she doesn’t want to or maybe she just survived a double mastectomy from breast cancer and breastfeeding isn’t an option. Whatever it is, trust me when I say, a mother will do everything she can for her child, and she has Google and Facebook just like you. She knows what her options are, so just support her. Enough with the “breast is best” comments.
2. Organic snacks.
Those little Goldfish or bunnies can really define what type of mom you are — or can they? I am guilty of this one myself. I’ve refused to allow another mom to give my son non-organic snacks even though he was asking for them. That same mom called me out on it one day when I was ordering Max a dirty water dog in Central Park (they’re his favorite). No mom wants to give her child toxic food, and we’re all trying to be as healthy as we can be, but let’s face it — it’s hard. One day it’s GMOs, the next it’ssynthetic ADA in organic milk. If you choose organic bunnies, that’s totally fine, but stop rolling your eyes when your friend pulls out those old-fashioned Goldfish. And if you’re the one pulling out the Goldfish, don’t feel like you have to make an excuse for why you’re feeding them to your child. It’s OK.
3. Pinterest parties.
Can we just stop, please? When (and why) did we even start this ridiculous trend? To make ourselves feel bad? I’m not sure who actually has time to plan these immaculate parties full of handmade decorations, glorified dessert tables and matching hats for guests. Sure, we’ve all done it, but it usually goes more like this: You pin “cute” banners and matching cupcake toppers that will look even cuter than your friends’ party while falling asleep at 2 a.m. After forgetting to order the items off Etsy in time, you spend a fortune paying a local baker to make the treats and pawn them off as homemade. Of course, you then take 100 photos in hopes of getting one good shot and shamelessly pin, tweet, Instagram and tag it to every social media channel you own — just to make sure all your mom friends have seen it. To make it worse, you go through and judge and (gasp) laugh at mistakes or flaws in your other friends’ parties.
4. Mom jeans and other fashion fails.
So, you dropped the baby weight in two weeks, or you always have time to get a weekly mani/pedi. That’s awesome — good for you. I love to indulge in a great mani/pedi myself (what girl doesn’t?), but when moms start calling other moms sloppy, it means war. And shame on you, because there are days you don’t get out of your pajamas, either. Any mom who claims she gets beautiful every day is lying, or a celebrity with 10 personal assistants. (I am also willing to bet money there are days when even Beyoncé wears sweatpants to the playground.) Don’t judge your mom friend if she doesn’t have time to hit up the local salon as often as you. If you’re too cool to be seen with someone in mom jeans or no makeup at lunch, well, then, you just might find yourself eating lunch alone a lot more in the future.
5. Working moms vs. stay-at-home moms.
I saved the best for last — this war is really bubbling up these days. Mothers slam other moms because they work too much and don’t spend enough time with their kids, and then those moms lash back, saying you have a meaningless life except for catering to your kids. It doesn’t matter which side of this fence you’re on — we’ve all been burned. Maybe that working mom has no other choice. She may really want to be at home with her kids, but someone has to pay the bills. And you — stay-at-home mom — you know there are days when you want to just escape the kids and be an adult, but maybe you can’t because it’s more expensive to pay for day care than it is to be at home (true story here in New York City). When did it become OK to slam a mom for her career or non-career choices? Everyone makes the decisions that work best for them and their family. Just let it go!