While I was in NY I had the most refreshing lunch at De Maria (one of my NYC favs), with a fellow social media influencer, Ashley Chmelka, whom if you're not following right now DO IT! She's a freaking doll and a new mama showing us how to navigate life in NYC while sharing her love for beauty and fitness! We were catching up laughing and our conversation organically lead us to openly sharing our fair share of mom guilt and then mom shaming we've received from strangers on the internet.
A study from the University of Michigan says that 61% of mothers are criticized about their parenting choice. Sadly 14% comes from peers while the most shocking stat to me was that 36% of mothers say that it comes from their spouse/child's other parent. When I read this my mouth dropped. Motherhood is hard enough and I don't know of one mom who already doesn't feel guilty for something we lack.
The pressure women carry for having to keep up with society standards around beauty, fitness, and careers. Throw motherhood into that mix and you can only imagine the anxiety that can manifest by the innocent act of simply "trying to do you boo." I became a mother at 21, just when I was starting my very first career as a hairstylist. I wasn't married at the time and both my husband and I were barely adults trying to figure out this thing called "adulting." We both didn't come from families with money so a household with two working parents was our only option. Thankfully our parents were close enough to watch Airis at the time, which saved us on childcare expenses, but it was HARD AF! Not only did I have the pressure of building a clientele, learning how to become better at my craft, and being a decent adult, but now I had the pressure of raising another human life.
Motherhood is hard enough...
...and I don't know of one mom who already doesn't feel guilty for something we feel we lack. We don't need outside criticism on how we choose to parent.
As a young mom, I received advice from every angle and every walk of life from my clients in the salon and from my mother and sister. I was so over it. I just wanted to raise my child to the best of my own ability without having the be influenced by someone's perspective of how I can do motherhood better. I felt the criticism constantly. Not just from being a 21-year-old mother, but from the lack of financial resources to have the baby in her own room, to how to nurse, to comments like "geez you're so young, why did you have a baby at this age?" The comments were endless. As life went on so did changes within my career space and I found myself at VSCO, an incredible company that valued work-life balance and were more supportive of parenthood. BUT I was the youngest manager at that company and the ONLY mother for a long period of time. The mom guilt is real! And so was the struggle trying to be a great employee in the corporate world.
I think what's interesting is that when a woman is juggling a million and one things: a flourishing career, a marriage, parenthood, school drop-offs, making lunches, being the in-house Uber driver, the list goes one; we get asked that damn question that typically comes with a little-confused side eye "How do you do it all?" But when a man is doing the same things he doesn't get questioned he gets praised for it. Another example of this is when a woman needs to go home to pick up her sick kid from school comments like "oh another kid-related issue" gets said either internally or from others. However, when a man goes home early for his children, he gets recognized for being an amazing caring father. It's not to say that this is always the case. There have been moments where the opposite happens and when it does, I feel that there's a progress in our mindsets surrounding this disconnection of perspectives.
Here's the thing, mom shaming affect us all. When criticism becomes an overload then a woman begins to question her worth, her decisions, and eventually, that sense of insecurity feeds into how she manages her day to day with her family. That constant struggle can cause anxiety which can manifest into depression, affecting her interactions with those around her.
If you're one to constantly question the decisions or parenting choices one makes, you probably should learn to dial it back especially if its a mother you know in real life or even a person you follow on social media. We all make our choices on parenting based on our individual lifestyles. Just like fitness looks different on everyone so does motherhood.