This past week has been a hard one – no, more like this past month. There have been a lot of things going on in my life lately and it’s finally all culminated in a depression episode for me.
But this time was different. This time I recognized the signs almost immediately.
This time I talked to the right people and addressed the issues so that I could start feeling better. And now, before the day is even over, I’m sitting here writing to you feeling like I’ve got a purpose again.
My joy is back.
But let’s back up a minute and talk about the straw that broke the camel’s back for me, because, in all honesty, it’s a major issue.
It’s one that’s weighed heavily on the hearts of many of the moms in my circle in recent months and it needs to be discussed.
It’s mom shaming.
Let’s be real here. No need to hide the facts – we’ve all been guilty of it on some level. Alright, maybe you never intended to hurt anyone, true, but we’ve all done it.
We’ve all judged another mom because she’s doing something a little bit different than we would (or than we think we would – because, really, we aren’t her and we can’t possibly know what we would do in her exact situation).
But it’s time we stop. Like for real, guys. We’re not in high school anymore.
How Mom Shaming Hurt Me
See, here’s what happened to me, and I’m sure every single one of you can relate on some level.
It’s been a little rough for me lately, as I mentioned. And then the cherry on top was last night when my (almost) three year old, Samuel, had yet another angry outburst.
Except this has been becoming more the norm for him lately. He kind of goes into these mini rages where it’s nearly impossible to reign it back in, where I really have to just do damage control because he’s fast and he’s strong and he’s determined.
Last night he was sitting on the living room floor playing peacefully with his tools. His one year old brother, Elliott, was across the room doing his own thing.
I was sitting on the couch watching TV. Everything was peaceful, I was laughing and playing with El and Sammy was in his own little world.
Then, for some reason completely unknown to me, Sammy started throwing toys – at my head.
I don’t know what triggered him. He didn’t seem to be frustrated with his toys, his brother was nowhere near him and no one had said or done anything to him.
But his sudden temper of course caught me off guard. My reaction initiated a battle of wills as he kept throwing more and more toys my direction, now seeming to find it more of a game than anything else.
Soon El joined in because apparently they thought it was all just hilarious. Every time I’d take a toy away, they’d find 10 more to throw.
No matter how stern I was or how many time I tried to remove them or myself or the toys from the situation, they’d always find a way to throw more toys – hard toys- at my head.
I soon had to physically restrain Sammy in an attempt to get him to stop. He just laughed and went right on throwing toys at me as soon as I thought he had calmed down enough to play again.
This all lasted for probably 30 minutes before he finally just got bored with it and gave up.
I was so shook after this experience that I couldn’t really think clearly. Thankfully my husband came home just about this time from his obligation and took over for me.
And as I was trying to process what happened so I could figure out what to do about it, I turned to a community of like-minded parents on Facebook for input.
I had hoped to find support and empathy. I had hoped maybe another mom had experienced similar things and could offer me some insight.
But what I got in the third response to my post was a snarky comment about how I was clearly failing my son in some way.
How Sammy’s behavior was obviously a cry for help and I was too consumed with my own problems to recognize that and give him what he needed.
That I was projecting my hurts and fear onto him and causing more problems for my sweet innocent boy.
That it was my fault.
This wasn’t the first time I had posted about this issue to this group of people.
But the last time I posted about it I got a similar response from a similarly vicious member who consistently and relentlessly shamed and blamed me in multiple comments never really offering any helpful advice on how to move forward.
Even after I pointedly asked her to stop and not to comment anymore, she just kept at it. I finally had to block her.
But I was hoping this time would be different. I was hoping maybe this time I’d be met with more compassion and understanding.
But there we were again. Same story, different person.
I had to leave the group. A group I’ve grown to love. A group I found because it was created by a blogger I adore and look up to. A group I had found support in before.
But, like I said, this wasn’t the first time I’d been shamed or blamed, and I guessed it wouldn’t be the last either if I stayed.
Mom Shaming Flared My Depression
And those comments were the things weighing heavily on my mind as I went to bed last night and as I got up this morning.
Those comments are what sent me into a downward spiral today as I began to doubt my ability to parent my two boys well, to be a good, kind, loving mom, to provide my children with the support and care they need.
Those comments are what led me to start thinking they would be better off if I wasn’t their mother.
Related Post: The Part Of New Motherhood No One Talks About
After all, my son’s aggression and anger was a result of my lack of ability to meet whatever needs he had that I couldn’t figure out, as this oh so wise woman had pointed out.
But thank God for his perfect timing. Truly. Because as I was struggling through all of these emotions, another blogging friend of mine had posted about this very issue.
She spoke straight to my heart without even realizing it. And I couldn’t let that moment pass.
I messaged her to let her know, which started a short but oh so needed conversation that helped me begin to pull myself out of the darkness of my depression and back to a place where I could see this hurtful experience for exactly what it was – a chance to learn and grow…and a chance to share something valuable with my tribe. With you.
What Has Changed In Our Society?
I shared with my friend that I recall once seeing a post somewhere that talked about how this little girl fell into a well in the 80s and it took two days to rescue her.
It got national media coverage and when she was pulled from the well, injured and in need of medical attention but alive, the whole nation rejoiced.
No one pointed fingers or said that she should have been better watched. No one accused the parents of neglect. No one said she should have been taken away.
But fast forward to 2016 when a young child falls into a gorilla enclosure at a zoo while his parents looked on.
Fast forward to 2018 when a young child was dragged away from his family in a split second by a crocodile while enjoying vacation at Disney.
Immediately all fingers pointed to the parents in both cases. Everyone said they should have known better.
They should have paid more attention. They should have done things differently.
Nationwide total strangers pointed fingers, blamed and shamed these parents for all of the things they didn’t do that they should have and all of the things they shouldn’t have done but did.
Everyone said “My child would never….”
What happened to us? What happened to the community of parents who once praised the rescue workers who worked tirelessly to save a little girl?
What happened to the supporters who watched with baited breath or jumped in and helped when someone’s baby was in danger?
Where are all the people who stood by the parents and prayed with them instead of blaming them?
What has happened to turn us all into hateful, hurtful, judgemental jerks who think we are better than other parents?
Let me tell you something. Parenting is hard. Like really really freaking hard. And you’re not perfect. None of us are.
Your baby is just as likely to fall into a well or a gorilla enclosure or get drug away from you in an instant by a surprise crocodile attack.
Your precious child is just as likely as anyone else’s to run into oncoming traffic or wander away from you at the mall or have a huge meltdown in the middle of the freaking grocery store. It’s just life. It’s kids.
They are unpredictable and incredibly fast and fearless. They don’t understand the dangers of those things. They simply see something they want and they go for it.
No matter how hard you try, you’ll never be a perfect parent. None of us will.
So instead of using all of our fire power to tear each other down just so we can build ourselves up on their ashes, why not help each other out and build a stronger tower?
I Want To Do Better For Us All
Listen, it’s not my goal to be a perfect parent. It used to be, I’ll admit. I wanted to be the one everyone admired. The one that had it all together. The one who’s kids people envied.
But that’s not reality. And I’m ok with that.
In fact I’m glad. Because that means I’m not untouchable. I’m not immune to failure.
I’m not perfect – which gives me the opportunity to build beautiful relationships with all the other imperfect mommas out there.
My goal, right here and right now, is to build a safe place, to give us all somewhere that we can come and fall when it all goes to hell.
I want to let you all feel totally free to be real and true and honest without fear of judgement or guilt.
I want us to be a community of moms who surround each other with love and support and an understanding that we are all doing our best even if our best isn’t perfect.
Because it never is and it never will be – and that realization will free us all from the unreasonably high standards this world has set for us.
That’s what this will always be about for me. It will always be about helping you find your true self and your joy.
It will always be about community and building each other up instead of tearing each other down.
You’re always welcome and you’re always invited to let your hair down here and show your true self, flaws and all.
You will always be accepted with open arms.
That’s my promise to you, momma – to be beautifully broken together as we learn and grow into the moms we want to be. <3