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The Mom Shame Game

moms motherhood parenting shame village

Let's flash back to 1950.  From what I have been told, kids roamed free because your neighbors were active in knowing and disciplining your kids, moms were not judging each other - they were banding together to HELP raise children.  They were THE VILLAGE. 

Now we have homeschool vs public school, SAHM vs WM (stay at home mom vs working mom), organic vs non-organic, circumcise or not, breast or bottle....  I could go on and on with this list.  In an effort to make ourselves stand out and be independent we have isolated ourselves based on our personal thoughts and beliefs.  Because of politics the divide is on a national level - not just about mom-ing.

My boys are tough.  They are high energy, high emotions, high maintenance.  We are working on some diagnosis to help explain their behavior - but my point is they are exhausting.  They go, go, go.  I try everything I am supposed to and sometimes it doesn't work.  Keeping calm and keeping my patience when by 9am they have colored on my walls, toilet papered my living room, and pinched me in the neck - takes an act of God.  For real. 

My 2 year old throws a lot of tantrums.  More than the average two year old.  But most two year olds do throw tantrums, so for people to see it in public shouldn't be that crazy, right?  No, instead when he is flipping out and running away at the food court at the mall, I have about 50 eyes watching me, JUDGING ME.  I could feel it.  Half of their faces said that I was being to harsh, the other half was saying that I wasn't harsh enough.  It was clear no one felt I was doing it right.  Looking back, I don't think I could have handled it differently.  I dragged him kicking and screaming back to our table, somewhat restrained him to keep him from running away, shoved food into my other toddler, and left as quickly as we could.  All while he is kicking and screaming and performing because he is quite aware that he has captured an entire audience.  He got exactly what he wanted, and I got shamed.  I got in the car and cried.

The mom shame is so bad I often fear getting child services called on me.  I do not hurt my kids, they are not abused, they are clean, healthy and safe.  I should have NO reason to even consider that.  But when I am out somewhere and someone sees me dragging my tantrum throwing kid by the arm - I think, okay who here is thinking this is too harsh.  The ones that didn't see him kick me and pinch his brother drawing blood...  I know this happens because I hear moms talk about it.  I hear them say "I was at the park and this mom yelled at her kid and it was so harsh, it broke my heart for that poor boy".  Yep raise your hand if you have seen a snippet of a situation and thought this too.  I even caught myself just today hearing a mom yelling at her child for misbehaving and I thought - ooh she didn't handle that well.  That sounded mean.  Then I heard the same mom talking about how she just finished treatment for cancer.  Cancer and a difficult child? - suddenly I had so much sympathy.  I had no idea what even led to the incident - who was I to cast any judgment?  Moms are humans, we are not perfect.

Recently, a mom I knew actually had services called on her.  She doesn't even know why someone called, but she was terrified.  This mom had just brought home twins from the hospital, and has a two year old and three year old home.  That's right we all know how freaking hard this is - I want you to think about what she has to juggle.  If ANYONE had any concerns about her parenting, they should have gone over and offered to HELP.  You think she needed the added stress of an unfounded claim filed with an organization who literally has the right to take people's children away????  I can't even imagine how overwhelming that must have been.  This is a mom who is breastfeeding twin newborns while taking care of TWO toddlers at the same time.  You can tell in about 5 minutes what an amazing mom she is by how she sacrifices herself.  Someone needs her every minute.  Some tines more than one needs her.  She rocks it.  PEOPLE if you call child services on a mother like this, you are not paying attention.  You are making busy work for an agency who has kids that desperately needs their help.  They are understaffed and in the news for kids getting hurt under their custody.  You guys, this is like calling an ambulance for a hang nail and the ambulance can't save someone who really needs it.  This is the THIRD mom I know who has this issue.

In talking with other moms, a lot of them mentioned that they had this fear too.  WEll because we know people it has happened to.  Typically it is a mom struggling with some tough things anyway - because these make us stand out.  Things like medical issues, behavior problems, kids who are too skinny or too chubby, anything else going on in their lives.  I am afraid to leave my sleeping kids in the car, on a cool day, with the windows down, parked in front of my kitchen door where I can see them the entire time they are there.  In RI they are debating a law that would make that illegal.   I would love to give a social worker both of my kids and see if she can get them out of the car and into the gas station to buy milk.  Or how about when I had a one year old, and a newborn in an infant seat and had do maneuver all of that trying to pick a pizza (never again, I don't order if I have the kids)?   

Seriously, GIVE US A BREAK.  Give each other a break.  Give us some help or sympathy or encouragement. Being a mom is hard enough, we need more helping hands and less shame.  We are really much more alike then we remember.  Let's bring back the village.  


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  • Kim on

    My 2 year old hit a little girl at her own birthday party for touching HER scooter that he was playing with. I snatched him off of it kicking and screaming and made him sit with me for a kind of “time out”. I guess because of how quick I stormed over and how mad I looked, everyone just stared at me in disbelief…like I had just beaten him in public! Someone even shrieked “He didn’t mean it!!” I spent the rest of the day embarrassed thinking the entire party thought I was an abusive mom because my parenting decision is to immediately remove my child from the situation when he acts like that. Was I supposed to just let him make other children cry all day?

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