Shame on mom shaming. No one should ever shame a mother who is trying her best. I had an incident at swim practice where I got mom shamed and it really hurt my feelings at the time. Long story short, my son hurt another kids feelings by asking him how old he was, when the kid told him he was 4, my son said, “are you sure? You look like ur 2, your small for 4.” Knowing my son, he’s a very literal and observant child, I know he didn’t mean harm and was being inquisitive. In the past he, very innocently, asked a man who had a beer belly if he was pregnant. Again-no harm meant but feelings may have been hurt. And he did hurt this sweet kids feelings by calling him small. I didn’t see the incident go down because I was talking to a friend while our kids were playing but after hearing what happened I apologized the the other kids mom. She preceded to call me insensitive and a bad parent and called my son a bully. She yelled at me in front of all the swim parents and kids, I won’t lie, I was embarrassed but I also didn’t want to engage in this fight because I could tell she was having a bad day. I could see her tired eyes, her pained heart, the look of despair and I realized something…I realized, this isn’t about a comment my son made. This is a mom who is going through something and she’s hurting. Part of me wanted to get defensive and yell back at her but the other part of me wanted to hug her and say, “I’ve been there too.” In fact, I’m there more often than I’d like to admit. When your coffee has worn off and your worn out. When your heart is heavy from bigger struggles your facing in life. I felt a tug at my heart saying, “give this mom some grace.”
I forced my son to apologize to the kid and we left. I hugged my son and told him that he didn’t do anything mean but since the boys feelings were hurt, it’s best to say sorry for making him feel bad. (I have a problem with forcing my kids to apologize because I don’t feel that an apology makes anyone feel better unless it’s genuine and heartfelt.) But I did made him do it anyway for the other child’s sake.
Now moms….we all have hard days, lets not be so hard on one another. Let’s not mom shame and call other moms names when their kids misbehave. Let’s not expect perfection from each other or from each other’s kids. Let’s celebrate each other because this parenting gig, let’s face it, is a lot of work. Let’s love one another and give grace when it’s needed. I promise you that my kids are not perfect, I know that because they came from me! Lord knows I’m not perfect. So I’m sorry when my kids do something to upset you. I apologize ahead of time knowing that it’s going to happen no matter how “good” or “bad” of a parent I am.
I expect my children to mess up, to be loud at restaurants, to spill, to say factual things without tact-things that may offend people. I expect them to have an attitude sometimes, to be bossy, to leave someone out, to get angry, to not share every toy. You know why? Cause they’re human like me and I do these things sometimes too!!! And so do you!
We get on our high horses when we tell our kids to do things;
“Always share..” we say to our kids, then five minutes later we cling to our own wallet when a homeless person walks by.
“Don’t throw a fit..” we say to our kids, as we complain to a manager or go straight to yelp and leave a nasty comment when something doesn’t go our way.
“Be polite..” we tell our kids, then we flip off the driver that just cut us off.
“Only use kind words..” we say to our kids as we gossip to a friend or read gossip magazines.
Yes we want to teach our kids and equip them with good morals and behaviors. But let’s also give them grace when they mess up, walk through the tough emotions with them and teach them healthy ways to deal with it the next time those feelings pop up. Let them know that these feelings are NORMAL, but the choice we have is how to handle them. And don’t expect perfection. Do you remember what it feels like when you need grace and lose your cool? Believe me, I wanted to yell back at that mom, but then I remembered a time that I got overly defensive when my child’s feelings were hurt and I was struggling with other stuff that no one knew about. I needed grace then. And this mom needed it now. I found out later that her son had been on life support at one point. No wonder she was so upset! She probably needed the hug I wanted to give her. You never know what someone is going through and usually the way people handle things says more about them than it does about you.
Parenting is hard. The days are long, sometimes I feel defeated. Sometimes I feel like nothing I’m doing is working, like I’m failing. Or maybe just tired of playing referee between my kids all day. Or breastfeeding has my hormones all crazy and I just want to cry-or eat a donut and then cry. We all have hard days or days we aren’t on our A game. I don’t need anyone mom shaming me to tell me I mess up, I already know I do.
Sometimes people judge parents off a quick interaction; like when someone give you a nasty look for giving your child a phone to play with while you and your husband eat a meal out. First of all, that may be the only meal you got to eat that day and the only moment your child was silent for more then 3 seconds! What they don’t see is the 11.5 hours that you spend cooking, cleaning, playing with your kids, loving on them, talking to them, sleeping in their bed, riding bikes, teaching them lessons, giving of yourself and not asking for anything in return. So give the benefit of the doubt to parents, seeing one snippet of their day may not be an accurate representation of their parenting as a whole.
Let’s not attack other parents and dis their parenting, we’re all doing the best we can and a little grace could do us all some good. It’s a tough job that already gets very little credit so let’s lift each other up instead of criticize each other. If you truly saw into the life of the mom that you think is doing it wrong, you might eat your own words. The truth is, we all mess up as parents in some way or another. Our kids give us a hard enough time as it is, we don’t need other parents doing it as well… am I right ladies?