If my son came home and told me he made fun of someone because their jeans weren’t the right brand or because they were good at something he wasn’t, I’d (metaphorically) knock him into next week. If he came home and announced he and his friends had a jolly old laugh about another kid on the football squad who supported a different team or how they all got together and picked on the best player, I’d have serious words with him. At least a few thousand. Repeatedly.
So, why do we think it’s ok to do that to other women…particularly other mothers?
Today I came across an article about a professional trainer who shared her postpartum workout online. She has since been roundly and soundly body-slammed by people telling her how irresponsible she is for working out so soon after giving birth, others shaming her for shaming other women who don’t bounce back so quickly or easily.
For the love of God, who cares? This woman’s work out schedule has absolutely no bearing whatsoever on you, your children, how your children are going to turn out, or whether or not they’ll need therapy at some point. (Fine, and most probably.)
I don’t have the time, energy or inclination to care if one mom is creating Disney-worthy coloring scenes on her kid’s lunch bag, or if another is making Olaf the snowman out of hard-boiled eggs. I don’t care if someone else has four out of her six-pack back in under a month after pushing out twins.
Why is it as mothers we only praise the mothers who confess and admit, the ones who stand up and say, “Hey! This parenting shit is tough!”
We are all guilty of judging other people, especially other mothers. But I think we’re even more guilty of judging other mothers who seem to have it together or gasp, seem to enjoy certain aspects of parenting.
It’s mom bullying.
You are a mom bully if you:
Make another mother feel bad about any of her parenting choices;
Mock another mother for finding something easy;
Shame another mother for finding something hard;
Criticize someone else’s stance on topics;
Question the legitimacy of another mother’s values;
Shame another mother into thinking there is only one right way to do something;
Force statistics that support your beliefs down someone’s throat;
Belittle another mother for what she wears, doesn’t wear, how large her ass is, how small her ass is;
Make assumptions about another mother based on the name of her children or the snacks she packs;
Feel sanctimonious about your own parenting choices by comparing them to others.
I wish more mothers would feel confident without putting others, members of their own tribe, down.
Listen, there are women out there who happen to be mothers who are….well, let’s not mince words…they’re assholes. It’s likely they would be assholes even if they weren’t mothers, but the fact that they are mothers may bring us into daily contact with them, either in real life or virtually.
I’m talking about your run of the mill, average mother. Those of us who are chopping carrot sticks and trying to find a ride to a birthday party or trying to figure out how to get our kids to remember to put their clothes in the hamper and not leave them scrunched in a ball on the floor. The ones who every now and again pat ourselves on the back and think, “Damn if I didn’t handle that well.”
It’s tough to have confidence as a parent. Do you know why? Because there is no one right way or one wrong way to do it. Every kid is different. Every parent is different. Every situation is different. Every friggin’ parenting book is different. There is no magic one-size-fits-all answer. It’s eighteen plus years of fighting the good fight and praying that your kids don’t hate you enough to ignore the dribble on your chin when you’re old and dotty.
If you have to get that confidence by trolling or shaming or mocking another mother? You’re doing exactly what (I hope) you’re teaching your kids not to do.