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Living Well: Mommy Shaming

by on May 01, 2017 10:30 AM

As a first-time mom to a 6-month-old I am humbled and elated to celebrate my first Mother’s Day. Nothing could have prepared me for the joy, unconditional love, exhaustion, and anxiety that comes with the experience of being a new parent.

What has been helpful on this new journey is talking to other first-time moms with babies around my son’s age. Sharing the challenges and allowing myself to be vulnerable with others have helped me navigate the tough days when it feels like the walls are caving in.

While I would like to think I have it all together and have this new mom thing down, the truth is I skid and face-plant often, and being able to share that with women I trust has been emotionally freeing and healing.

If you Google articles on motherhood, you will find tons of stories telling you what the right thing to do is, what you must do and must have for your baby, what you should feed your baby, what classes you should enroll them in, and how you should put them to sleep. The pressure to get it right can be emotionally paralyzing.

Perhaps the most helpful advice I have received as a new parent is to follow my instincts and do what works for my baby and my family. I have found along the way the more I read the more I feel frustrated or judged, and sometimes it’s best to shut down the Google search and take it one step at a time.

Whether you are a first-time mom or a veteran, this parenting gig is hard. Recognize that you don’t have to have it all together, and it’s okay to be vulnerable with others. Don’t let the pressure of competing with other moms pull you down. 

You don’t have to be perfect and you certainly don’t have to know exactly what to do at every moment. Take a step back and don’t allow mommy peer pressure to get into your head. We all made it through high school; let’s not repeat the pattern of being good enough in the Mommy Club. 

If you do find yourself in the presence of a perfect, preachy, judgmental Mom type, put your head up and your shoulders back and remember how people behave is about the place they are in emotionally — it’s not about you. Someone who is a know it all or makes you feel like a failure as a parent is leading with their ego, and it’s not worth draining your energy and peace of mind to spend time with someone like that.

Spend time with other moms who encourage you, laugh with you, and cry with you. If you are surrounded by women who can’t be vulnerable with one another, do a gut check on why that works for you, what are you afraid of in connecting with others?

Recognize that your ability to be vulnerable with yourself and others will bring a sense of peace, connection, and validation to your everyday life. 

The best gift you can give yourself this Mother’s Day is the gift of appreciation and gratitude. No one else was picked to be the mother of your child. You were made to be your child’s mother. Mistakes and do-overs are a part of the human experience, and while you may not always get it right, you are the right mother for your child. 

Keep your sense of humor, share the absurdities of parenting with women you trust, and recognize that we are all on the same path evolving at different paces. You don’t have to perfect, but you can be perfectly you.

Don’t waste another day in Mommy shaming. Take it one step at a time and reach out to women who will love and support you and make you laugh along the journey.

You are worth it!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Meghan Fritz is a psychotherapist at Sunpointe Health in State College.
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