Motherhood! More than 85 million women in the U.S. are mothers. Women have been taking on this role since the dawn of man. But a new trend has started, fed by the social media beast.
I am a mom of two, a grandmother of several, and a counselor to over a thousand young people throughout my career. I know a little bit about taking care of children. It is the most rewarding role I have ever taken on, but also the hardest and most exhausting. In fact, looking back… the biggest thing I remember about my first year of motherhood was being so tired all the time.
Rather than serving as a support system, many women have turned motherhood into a competition. This perpetuates unrealistic expectations causing many mothers to feel they are never good enough. Here are the top 7 “Mom Shaming” issues focusing on the hype versus the reality.
- Picture perfect athletic body. Society has set the bar so high for the after birth body to return to its former self due to celebrities showing up on the red carpet right after a baby looking spectacular. Here is the truth: Women weren’t meant to look like they never had a baby two weeks after giving birth. The expectation is to achieve a no baby weight, athletic body one month after giving birth. Let me tell you, I was in my maternity clothes for almost a year after having my first child. Then when my body and energy was starting to come back – I found out I was pregnant again! It is important to eat healthy, exercise, and not use the baby as an excuse. But motherhood is exhausting, with little or no time for moms to have for themselves. So I say, give everyone a year to adjust to motherhood and have time to get back to a healthy shape.
- Breast milk is a very healthy choice for a newborn. Yet, this is a personal decision for the mother. Nature also plays a part in the process. The baby needs to learn how to latch and suckle. The mother’s milk must come in and be produced in enough quantity to adequately feed a newborn. Also, the first two weeks are extremely painful. For working mothers, they have the added problem of not having the time to pump enough during the day to maintain a proper supply. This choice has a variety of difficulties. Therefore, every individual has the right to choose how to handle nursing or bottle feeding. It is not up to anyone else to judge or pressure a new mom. There are excellent formulas out there that can adequately feed a baby.
- Social Media Competition. It is so wonderful to be able to see my family, friends’ and neighbors’ children in sports, dance, choir, etc. But this is a happy communication; not a competition. Also, please keep the comments positive. I still remember when I took my daughters to Glamour Shots back in the day. Several mothers commented on it being inappropriate for young girls to wear makeup. But it was fun and an ego-boost for my girls. No harm, no foul. Just a one time fun, dress-up event.
- Healthy Eating. The do’s and don’ts for eating are constantly changing. Butter is bad, then it’s so much better than margarine. Eggs are a no-good for you then they become a great source of protein as long as they are free-range and organic. Soy was a big deal and then it was bad for you. Use good fat, but not bad fat. I think it is always good to eat fresh fruit, fresh vegetables with some protein. Let’s not judge, just make your own positive choices.
- The perfect homemaker and host. What happened to a cake, salad, colorful table cloth, and gifts? It’s wonderful if you wish to be creative and crafty, but don’t tear down mothers that keep it simple with down-to-Earth parties. Pinterest and Martha Stewart have given us many excellent hosting ideas but a simple get-together with family and friends is the most important part of the agenda.
- The big debate: working versus stay at home moms. I was very lucky that I was able to stay at home with my children until they were in school. I loved being at home, but I am a nester at my core. It’s okay to pursue a career and have goals outside of the home. I ended up going back to school, getting my master’s degree, and having a very rewarding career in counseling. I did my best to see that my children were taken care of by caring and loving people. If I found out someone was mistreating my children that was the last time they babysat. So I was a stay at home mom for awhile and then a working mom for many years. Each individual has their own set of circumstances and must make a personal choice as to what is best for themselves and their family. Instead of criticizing an opposite choice, as mother’s we can support each other and make our children a priority.
- Motherhood is not an opportunity to show-off. Motherhood is a privilege bestowed by God. It is a very important role to be entrusted with when it comes to raising the life of a human being. What children need the most is lots of love, hugs, compliments, structure, and discipline. Although the first five years are most critical in your child’s development, it’s important to have realistic expectations for your little one. For more information on determining your child’s abilities within their developmental stages check out Easter Seals confidential online screening http://www.easterseals.com/mtffc/asq/. This organization can provide early intervention if necessary to help your child succeed. You can also read my series on Parenting on supportivetalk.com.
Enjoy your years raising your children. It was a true blessing in my life and now I am doubly blessed to have grandchildren. Focus on your childrearing abilities and let’s encourage everyone to stop mom-shaming.