A post went “viral” today, you’ve probably seen it if you’re a mom, written by a mom who lists why it’s ok to be any kind of mom, and still be a good mom. To basically stop mom-shaming eachother.
The fact is, the summer months are hard. Kids are home all day. That’s more than 12 hours of awake time for some us, 12 whole hours to feel like a failure. There’s lots of time for self-shaming, let alone the result of that awful but innate habit, judging other moms. But it’s more complicated than that. To stop judging eahcother, we must stop judging ourselves and the choices we make in raising our kids. And to openly talk about our feats, faults, failures, successes.
There is a playground close by here. At 6pm, daily, it fills with the same group of moms and their kids. When we first moved to the neighborhood, I’d take my son down there every now and then. The only mom who spoke to me was one with an autistic kid. Back then she wasn’t sure autism was the problem, so she kept swinging him on the swing, rhythmically, smile on her face, talking to her child non stop. Look, there’s an airplane, look, you’re eating a cookie, look, that little girl is playing with a truck. She was so deep in self-shame that I didn’t even know what to say to her, blaming herself for something that was completely out of control, not seeing that she is a hero, opening doors for others to judge her.
Another mom, twin boys, toddlers, terrible twos that seem to be stretching well beyond that age, gravel in the air, in other kids’ faces, fighting, crying, screaming, she too exhausted and ashamed to tell them what they are doing is wrong. Again, and again.
The semi-foreign mom, who hears my child speak English and ask to play with her kid’s bulldozer, pretends she doesn’t speak English so she doesn’t get edged out by the rest who stare at me as if they’ve never seen a foreigner before. He even says “please,” but nothing. I tell him that it’s ok, we have a bulldozer in the trunk of the car, in Greek, but nothing.
The grandma who is way too old and tired to be tending to two kids, doing it for the unconditional love for her son or daughter, given little choice by the conditions of the country we live in, asking me which building we live in, on which floor, what school my son goes to and speaks the “xena” (foreign).
All of you, I’m just as freaked out as the rest of you, none of us knew what we were signing up for. I could mom-shame you as you do me, I see you stare at me in disdain as I open my phone and play a round of Candy Crush, as I take my son by the hand and take him home for bath and bed hours before any of you do. And I let you be, because I know you do it because you see parts of yourself in me, parts you wish you could be, as I do in you.
It’s ok, I understand, as I’m sure somewhere deep down inside, you do too. Mom-shaming is just self-shaming.
You haven’t seen us in a while, and you probably never will, for I no longer take my kid to your playground, there’s no room for us. I take him somewhere we can breathe, unashamed.