My first experience with mom-shaming happened when I experienced difficulty producing milk for my newborn child. “What is going on? Why is nothing coming out?” someone once said to me. And the time I heard, “Are you sure you can’t try harder to give him breastmilk instead?” will never leave my memory.
A few months later, I looked down at my belly in a swimsuit. The pudge was still there, even after months of exercise, healthy eating and breastfeeding. Someone had the gall to tell me that I wasn’t working hard enough and that I was doing something wrong. She looked at my C-section scar and told me it was weird-looking and dark.
More mom-shaming came my way when it was time for me to go back to work. I was torn. Part of me wanted to get back into the swing of things, have more adult conversations and be “productive” again. And another part longingly wished to stay home with my child.
Someone told me it was best to leave early and spend more time with my child. “You’re going to miss all of his early, important years,” she scolded. Another woman countered and said, “I would get so bored if I stayed home all day.”
When my son was 17 months and still not walking on his own, I was a bit worried. I started doing some research to understand when the typical age range for walking was. Even after some relief in realizing he was still within the normal range, I heard someone say that it was a bit strange that he wasn’t walking by now which fueled my worries.
I’ve lived with all of this shame. Sometimes, it’s unbearable enough to keep me awake at night. Their voices echo in the stillness of my dark bedroom, forcing me to question whether I’m doing a good enough job as a mom.
So who are these mommy shamers? Well, they’re all me. They’re the voices inside my head telling me I can’t do this or I should do that.
Sometimes, I’m strong enough to ignore the voices shaming me. A moment of clarity will come and I’ll go days or even weeks thinking I’m doing my best and everything is how it’s supposed to be. I’ll also realize that this moment of clarity is fleeting—that, inevitably, the doubts will creep back in. But the constant ebb and flow of doubt and confidence is just part of life. And that realization is enough to get me out of bed and start my day.
In one way or another, we’ve all been mom-shamed. Typically, the worst villain is that voice inside our head—a voice that can be very hard to quiet.
Sure, you’ll make mistakes. But you’re allowed to make them because you’re human and parenting is one of the toughest jobs in the world. While those mistakes don’t define you, they are essential. They’re how we all grow.
So next time you hear that shamer start bubbling up because you’re unsure of what to do or because you’ve made a mistake or you’re just having a bad day, go ahead and kindly tell her to GO AWAY. She has misled you before, let us try our best not to allow her to do it again.
She was probably the one who said you weren’t good enough to try out for that play or for the tennis team. She likely told you the wrong way to break up with the person you were dating or that a certain dress didn’t suit you. She told you you could never run your own company or get promoted.
You deserve better than that, mama. You’re intelligent. You’re hard-working. You’re empathetic. You’re talented. You’re courageous. You’re the boss of your own life.
And you’re enough. Just as you are.
Stop shaming yourself. Start praising yourself instead.
You’ve got this.