As a first time Mother I have been faced with many new challenges. That comes with the territory, but what I did not expect to face is a battlefield of other Moms at nearly every turn. You see, I was told all about how to handle the changes that come with a new baby in the house, given advice on how to adapt, but somewhere along the line learning to deal with Mom criticism never really came up much.
I am a Mother who happens to suffer from anxiety. And while I am constantly working on myself towards improving my outlook, it is sometimes difficult in the land of motherhood. I did not suffer from postpartum depression, although many women do. I did not really experience the Baby Blues, which is also common. But I did find myself dealing with anxiety in times that I felt alone on my newfound journey.
When I became a Mom wasn’t finding much in the ways of a “Mom Tribe” as I scrolled through Mom groups. I would see posts about how anything outside of the realm of” by the book” perfection was shamed and picked apart. I felt like I did not fit in because I followed the “whatever works for me and my baby” method. I felt judged by strangers, and sometimes people close in our lives, for the choices I made and I would find myself feeling defensive or like I was inadequate in one way or another at being a Mom. I have even encountered other Moms in public who loudly voice their opinions of my interactions with my son while we are minding our own business. It became really discouraging and overwhelming at times. For what these people do not see, what they cannot know, is that I am trying my best. Sometimes my best takes up all of my energy and I do not look presentable in Target because nap time is coming and I need things before we hit melt down phase, so yes, I ran out of the house wearing the shirt I had on yesterday with sweatpants and unwashed hair in a bun. Sometimes my son only wants Mom all night and my sleep comes second to his comfort, so I cancel plans. Sometimes me trying to keep my son distracted means I take the two-seater or car buggy at the grocery store, even if it is the last one, for my (one) child so he can enjoy having to be drug along for errands when he’d rather be home tearing up the playroom. During those times of trying so hard to accomplish necessary daily tasks, and trying to get though the day when I am running on not enough steam the last thing I wanted was a sideways stare, passive aggressive remark or unsolicited advice.
Not everyday is difficult. Not every Mom group is super judgmental. Not every veteran Mom will tell you what you are doing wrong in their opinion. And not every public outing will result in wanting to never leave the house and resorting to online grocery pick up. But, let’s all try and do better out there- for the sake of solidarity and support! We are all going through tough times and navigating uncharted waters. Every Mom is different. Every child has different needs. So when you see a Mom out there- struggling or not- know that she is on the same team! Whether she is expecting, new to motherhood, or has raised a brood already- we are all powerful, brilliant, amazing, unstoppable, strong women and we should, at the very least, recognize that in each other. Offer a smile in passing. Let her know with a look that you’ve been there, that you understand and that she will make it- because you did. Let a Mom vent her frustrations. She is likely dealing with more than she will let on, so just listen for a while and don’t be so quick to tell her what she should be doing (unless she asks). Buy that Mom behind you in line a coffee or treat to make her day a little brighter knowing that she is not alone in this thing called motherhood. Every Mom is trying to to the best for their child and family. I always say ‘Mommin’ ain’t easy’, and I think that if everyone gained a little more perspective into the lives of others, then maybe all the societal pressures will start to fade away and we can all relax a little more. Because if there is one thing all Moms need it is the ability to RELAX! Be kind to your fellow Moms they need all the love and support they can get!