Stop the Mommy Shaming. Now.
One thing that most, if not all, moms have in common is that we all feel like we are failing or at least not doing as good of a job as we think we should. I used to be guilty of Mommy Shaming, I got lost in all of the "shoulds" of being a mom: my house should be cleaner, I should be able to keep up with my kids, I shouldn't need a nap, I should be able to breastfeed (this was a really hard one to overcome). Well now I just remind myself to "stop 'should-ing' on yourself" ;) .
It is easy to get wrapped up in what a family or being a mom looks like on TV - or even when you step into other people's homes -and this is when we feel we are not measuring up. When I was pregnant with my first, I had a very specific picture of what it looked like to be a good mom. This picture included breastfeeding my babies. Just a couple of days into being a mom, I learned that I have "underdeveloped breast tissue," and that isn't just a fancy way to say small boobs. What this meant was I could produce very little breast milk (less than 1 oz per day) only when I pumped and while being in constant pain. I suffered through this for 6 weeks because its what a good mom "should" do. When I finally stopped breastfeeding I had the audacity to feel ashamed of myself! I had absolutely no control over my situation but I still felt responsible and guilty. Now when I look back at my experience I am sad for all the tears I shed and the time I wasted feeling guilty for something that was out of my control. I cant say that I completely embraced this with my first son, but by the time I had my second I was able see the benefits of this "flaw." The easiest way to overcome something that is less then ideal is to look at the good that can come out of it. Because I wasn't able to breastfeed, my family members were able to take my son at night and feed him formula. When I stopped forcing myself to breastfeed I had more free time to enjoy and play with my new baby. Now my son is a happy and healthy 7 year old and you would never know that he was raised on formula, what was I so worried about? Us moms are all unique and, dare I say, PERFECT! You may doubt this concept but I believe it whole-heatedly. Do we look and act perfect? Well, maybe not, but that depends on your definition of perfection. Our bodies, personalities and behaviors are perfect reflections of our upbringing and the experiences we have been through. I believe that we are all perfectly fit for our unique circumstances, experiences, our futures and most importantly the perfect parents for our children. After all - our children are products of our own genes, they are us and we inherently know what is best for them which I think comes more naturally than we believe it does. I am a religious person and it gives me a lot of peace knowing that my children were sent to me for a specific reason. I, flaws and all, am the perfect parent for my children. For example, I often get negative feedback about my parenting style because I am very tender with my children. Others think I am raising "whiny children" and they need to "man up." In the last couple years my kids have been through a lot with their dad moving out, me returning to the work force and their dad recently moving in with his girlfriend. I know that my sensitive parenting style has helped them deal with their feelings in more appropriate ways, and it allows me to focus on their emotions and guide them through those feelings in a supported and safe environment. Lets be honest, we all know that children are not created equally. My kids seem to have more emotional ups and downs and my emotional sensitivity helps me process those feelings with them. We need to embrace and tap into our personal gifts to help us raise our children. I think we often allow our society to cloud our judgement of what is best for our kids and what our families should look like.Being in the baby industry for so long I have formed opinions on what is best and how people should parent. For a long time, I was a bit judgmental of other parents and how they behaved. It wasn't until I looked inside myself and really appreciated my own efforts and abilities that I started to see and appreciate those in others. I love the quote "There isn't a person you wouldn't love if you could read their story". How many times have you seen a mom shopping with a screaming and tantrum-ing little toddler and thought, "what is she doing? Why doesn't she do something about that?" Now I look at those moms and think, "Way to go, hold your ground!" or, "good job not reacting to that poor behavior!" If we could see the behavioral issues and the personalities that these parents are dealing with we would not be so quick to judge. When you think about it, what parent is not doing the best they can when you consider their background, resources, and struggles? We are all in the same boat here. We all have to to learn what this whole parenting thing is about one day at a time, with very little training. One key to happiness in parenting is remembering that it is a long learning process and to do our best, accept what is and move on to do better.
If I am completely honest, I face a situation every day that makes me think "I didn't do that right," or "I could have done that better." That is what parenting is all about, though! Just the other day I lost my patience with my son for pooping in his underwear (I'm sure a lot of you can relate to the seemingly never-ending potty training struggle). After calming down I apologized and talked to him about the situation in an understanding way and we both went on our ways for the day. We will all make mistakes and the best we can do is learn from them. I think the worst thing we can do is dwell on them and let them deflate us. In a world of skinny moms, healthy meals, organic clothes, and clean houses you need to realize that it's OK to binge eat ice cream on the couch after the kids go to bed, make grilled cheese for dinner, dress comfortably and leave the dishes in the sink. The goal should not be "perfection," but to do better and live in your very own type of perfection. From one perfect mom to another, I hope this message is well received and offers you the comfort it has me. Katie