Why in the world are Mommy Wars alive and well? Mommy Wars can be defined as, “Mom Shaming,” or criticizing or degrading a mom for parenting decisions because those choices are different than what the shamer might do or believe.
Theses wars need to be defused. We are now living in an, “All Types of Families Age,” and need to learn to look at other mothers without judgment and scorn. Mothers do not need to feel guilty for doing what is best for their family and other mothers do not need to shame them for doing so.
For example, just because another mother has to work or has a choice to stay at home, should not give a green light for harsh criticism; however, of course, no mother should be putting their child in harm’s way, but being a mother is difficult. Instead of pushing down other women, why is it not always natural to support other women, why are we still fighting the Mommy Wars in this day and age? What productiveness does mom-shaming really produce anyway?….Nothing.
I started my family in 1988, with the birth of my son. Despite my attempts at finding a way to stay home with him during the early part of his infancy, finances did not allow it. I gave up and went back to work as a nurse. Feeling plenty of guilt about leaving him in daycare, I did what I had to do.
In 1990, I was offered a scholarship to go to graduate school. We all sacrificed a lot that year, frequently surviving on Kroger pizza. Our son watched a lot of old Lone Ranger videos as I wrote papers…somehow we got through it. Even though I was torn about making the decision, my husband was supportive; however, some members of his family were not and very vocal about it. I was mom-shamed for going to graduate school.
We moved East and added a daughter to our family in 1995. By then my husband was making more money and I was able to negotiate part-time work so, I joined the neighborhood playgroup thinking it would be fun for my daughter and me. She had a great time, but soon I began to feel stabbing sensations in my back. Negative comments about me made from the other mothers filtered back and made me feel terrible. I was mom-shamed again and I was only part-time!
Those comments were, “I wasn’t much of a housekeeper,” (that was true and still is). “She still has her baby weight,” and even, ” As a nurse, she should surely know that she was damaging her children by putting them in daycare.” Even though I knew their own insecurities were motivating this kind of talk, it was still very hurtful because I knew I was doing the best I could.
In another scenario, I have had the opportunity this past year to spend some time visiting with my niece who has three children, two of them twins. She has her hands full and she decided to be a stay at home mom. Maybe a better description of her would be a, “working at home mom,” because that is what she does.
Her surgeon husband who works very long hours made a mutual agreement that she would do the day to day childrearing and run the household. She has done her best to arrange their lives in the most practical way possible based upon what their lives are like.
Their home is close to the hospital, school, practice fields, all the necessary stores, and offices. Most evenings her husband is able to eat with the family before he goes back to work, healthy homecooked meals are served, and money is not an issue; however, STILL, she worries and seems to have guilt.
Are the children getting enough of the right kind of attention? Are they getting a skewed view of the world because she and her husband haven’t done A or B? Should she plant and maintain a vegetable garden so they can see how vegetables grow?
Then there are the single working mothers with limited resources trying to do the best they can, but they too feel guilt and get mom-shamed. “Oh, she didn’t go on any field trips, she doesn’t care about her kid,” but the mom is working two jobs. ” She didn’t put her kid in sports, all she cares about is herself,” but she didn’t have the money.
It seems no matter what the situation is, every type of mother either has guilt or has been mom-shamed…Where does it end?!
Parenthood is full of insecurities for all types of mothers. These days, it has a much broader definition than it used to. Families with two mommies or two daddies, families in which dad is the lead stay at home parent, families in which grandparents are in the role of mom or dad, and families with children who have adversities all who are in much need of acceptance and support.
While it may be just human nature to be competitive, to be jealous, to dread growing old, to want to do everything just right, or to criticize, sometimes we just need to show compassion and empathy before judgment and criticism.
I have no regrets over having continued to work while my children were young. Both are now grown, out of school, and working. They are reasonably happy people and turned out just fine. My niece and her husband are raising a beautiful family and they are doing a great job.
Every family needs to make the decision about what is best for them and that is not a static thing. Needs change, emergencies happen, illness befalls, the economy changes, and we need to adjust; therefore, no mother should feel guilty or be ashamed for doing what they need to do with the situation they are in.
Never feel guilty for working to provide for your child. Never feel guilty for going back to school to better yourself and your family’s life. Most importantly, keep judgment to yourself, show all mothers support and lift each other up. Don’t be a mom-shamer.