My last post was about my choice to only have one child, but that topic lends itself to a greater one. This post is about the choices women make, and the shaming we receive as a result of those choices.
Not only do women receive enormous amounts of pressure to acquiesce to conventional society, but there is also a civil war going on among women, particularly moms. By a certain age, women are expected to get married. Women nowadays are getting married at later ages than previous generations, but the expectation is still there. If couples have been dating for awhile, they are asked when they are planning to get married. If you haven’t gotten married by a certain age, eyebrows raise.
Once you get married, then the real shaming begins. Questions come up about when there will be kids. People will ask all the time when you are having another one and tell you that it is selfish for not having more if you only have one child. Have two kids that are the same sex? Expect to get asked when you are going to have a child of the opposite sex. If you have kids too close together, people will comment on it, just as they will if you have children with a big age gap.
Let’s not forget the endless debate between moms with many kids, who will comment about how hard it is to juggle more than one child, and those with one child, who will argue that they have it harder because their child doesn’t have a sibling to entertain them.
types of mom shaming
There is also tremendous pressure regarding how feed your baby. Are you breastfeeding? After all, the American Pediatric Association says that it’s best for your child. If you choose to give formula, expect most pediatricians to tell you that “breast is best”. Even if you find a doctor who says that your baby is fine with formula, there are moms that will absolutely judge your choice. If you do breastfeed, how long did you do it? If it was under or over a year, expect questions.
Unfortunately, the pressure isn’t over yet. Are you a Stay-at-Home-Mom or a Working Mom? Either way, you’re screwed. Moms who stay at home are routinely told that they have it easier because they don’t work, and those who work are put on the defensive about why they choose to work rather than stay home and take care of their kids.
Are you the mom that shows up at carpool wearing makeup and a cute outfit along with your expensive car and your impeccable kids? If you’re one of those moms, get ready for some eye rolling. Are you the mom that drops off your kid with your hair a mess, your car looking like you slept in it, and your kids wearing mismatched clothes? If you’re one of those moms, get ready for some snickers. Do you spend your mornings working out and meeting friends for lunch? Are you the mom who rushes to work as soon as you drop your kids off at school? Are you the mom barely getting by and living paycheck to paycheck and living in an apartment? Regardless of your answer, prepare to get judged and shamed.
Does your kid participate in numerous afterschool activities? Do your kids have a nanny? Get ready for moms to think that you are using money to have others take care of your kids. Does your kid not partake in after school activities? Get ready for moms to think that you are depriving your child.
Is the father in the picture? Did you marry before you had kids? Are you married? Single and divorced moms better prepare themselves to spill the beans on why the relationship didn’t work.
stop shaming mothers for their choices
Life is comprised of a series of choices, which cause most of us to have sleepless nights. We lie awake praying and hoping we are doing the right thing. The pressure and judgment we put on ourselves isn’t torturous enough. We also judge and get judged by society and other women. The sad and harsh truth is that shaming has become an epidemic.
When did our lives become a giant justification? Why is it okay for us to shame one another to feel better about ourselves? Why does society have the right to dictate our choices?
None of us know what is going on in other people’s lives. We see glimpses of what others choose to show us on social media and during social interactions. We have a hard enough time feeling good about our choices, yet we feel we have the right to impose our choices on others.
I am not perfect. I try my best, as I am sure you do too. All we can do is hope and pray that our choices are good enough based on the cards we were dealt.
ending the shaming pandemic
Therefore, I am waving the proverbial white flag. Women who aren’t married, women who are married, women who are divorced, women who work, women who stay at home, women with no children, women with one child, women with many children, women who breastfeed, women who give formula, women with limited money, women with loads of money, women with help, women with no help….we are all human beings with hopes and dreams and strengths and weaknesses.
It is hard enough being a woman. Life is hard enough. What would happen if we raised each other up instead of tearing each other down? Showed empathy and kindness to ourselves and to one another? Called a truce and agree that our lives may be different, but we all have struggles? Would it help you to sleep better at night if you got to live your life without outside pressure and shaming? I know it would help me.
“Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.”- Brad Meltzer