Motherhood: The Good, The Bad and The Shame - By Kayla Harfield

Motherhood… It is the most rewarding job but it can also be a dark place and I don’t mean that in a bad way. Sometimes we just have a bad freaking day. Your kids can be the best part of your day but also the most frustrating part of your day. You can feel like the best mom in the world and five seconds later feel like the worst mom in the world. We already put so much pressure on ourselves so when a complete stranger, a friend or a family member passes judgment it can really knock a mama down. 

Insert the dreaded mom shame.

Oh your baby isn’t breastfed? Wow you let your daughter have screen time? They go to bed at what time?? Those are just a few I have heard in the two years of being a mom. Let me be the first to tell you, mentally this has not been a walk in the park for me. I was hard on myself in the beginning. I put a lot of pressure on myself to show my husband, our families and mostly myself that I could handle this motherhood gig like a champ so when I went back to work with my 8 week old daughter in tow I was determined to make it work. The dream, right? I could keep my career in the dental field AND be with my baby every day… What could go wrong? 

I was honestly shocked at the things patients who see me every 6 months for dental cleanings felt the need to point out about my parenting. “ Are you sure it’s safe she is at the office” “ Do you not have someone at home who can watch her?” “ She should be in daycare so she can socialize with other kids”, “ She should really be limited on her screen time.” 

I was even told once that because I gave my daughter one of those food pouches I was a lazy parent. Let that soak in for a minute, I am work, with my child and I was called lazy for the snack of choice I had.  Now with this shame came some praises, “ Oh it is so great that you can be with your baby every day, “ "It is so great she does not have to go to daycare” etc. So then I got to thinking, Why does motherhood have to be a damn if you do damn if you don’t deal? You are looked down upon if you formula feed from one person but then the other person gives you the whole, “ I had formula when I was kid and I am just fine” Speech if you nurse. Can we give moms a break?? Most days we are happy that our kid finally ate 4 gold fish and muffins after a food strike and felt like we had a victory and then here comes a stranger at the grocery store commenting on how your child should not be eating the Cheeto Puffs out of the bag. 

We have got to be better. We have got to stop the mom shaming! What I have learned from being a mom is what works for other households may not work for mine and that is okay. How one mom chose to feed their baby may not be the same way I chose to feed my baby and that is okay. The bed time I have for my daughter may seem crazy to others and guess what… that is OKAY.  We as mothers are on an emotional roller coaster pretty much all day seven days a week. The last thing we need is judgment, disappointment or shame from a stranger or even family members 

I was telling my husband one day after work, a patient had just scolded me at my desk for letting my daughter have a donut hole and gave the breakdown of why it was bad and I finally hit a wall with it all.  I was done letting the unsolicited advice and mom shame get to me. I had to take a look at myself and the mom I was. And the truth is, I do not think I am a bad mom. Do I lose my cool when I have asked my toddler seven times to stop climbing on the back of the chair, yes but then I hear my daughter sing back You are my sunshine or she looks back to make sure I am close by when she is running to play on the playground and I realize I am a doing an okay job here. One day at a time we made it … out alive. Literally as I am typing this my toddler is having a meltdown behind my office chair because she wanted blue fruit snacks and I gave her purple ones. This is the first meltdown of many today but it does not make a bad mom and it does not warrant mom shaming. 

So if you are reading this as a mom who is second guessing her parenting that day, or you're a mom who maybe passed some judgment on the mom at the park, I truly ask you to really look at your motherhood journey and focus on what works for you and your child or children. Focus on the victories you had that day, the little I love yous you get from your littles and know that YOU are a damn good mom. It took me two years to truly be proud of the mom I am right now. It took me two years to finally not care what strangers thought of my parenting, or the snacks my child has, can you tell I really held on to that lazy parenting comment? Lol but truly your kids think you are the greatest mom in the world. YOU are their safe space, YOU are the creator of magic. YOU their mama. Do not let the unsolicited advice of strangers, the judgment of a friend or family member take away your joy of being a mom. I encourage you to build up other mamas. You know the phrase “ It takes an army?” Let's be a motherhood army, let's build each other up and encourage each other, let’s simply be kind to one another. 

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