Comments from strangers on the internet made me question myself as a parent...and it really hurt.
I looked over at the stove clock and saw it was 9:39 pm. I had just finished an episode of my favorite reality TV show and my iPhone was on the charger. I heard the "ping" that I hear so often each day. This time, instead of the notification received when someone likes or comments on a picture from Instagram, it was a direct message.
I opened it immediately and read to myself. "What kind of mother are you to feed that to your child? Get off Instagram and be a parent!"
I frantically opened my Instagram app to re-watch the stories I had posted. What video was she referring to? Did I not catch my toddler eating something that could be dangerous to her? I kept scrolling.
"Mmm.. yum-yum," my daughter Aria said. It was her first time trying macaroni and cheese and of course, I had to document it. This was the video she was referring to. Aria was eating macaroni.
I deleted the video.
I spent that night Googling queries such as: 'harmful effects of macaroni,' 'celebrities who feed their kid macaroni,' 'are you a bad parent if you feed your kid macaroni' and the list goes on.
I remember feeling like I had fallen short of being a good mom to my little girl. All from a DM from a random person I had never met.
Little did I know that this would be the tip of the iceberg. Only a few months later, I'd hear from all kinds of self-proclaimed childhood speech experts listing all the reasons there had to be something wrong with Aria because she wasn't talking yet.
Looking back, my whole life I have always been critiqued. Years back, I played Division 1 collegiate volleyball and grew accustomed to letting the coaches' corrections roll off my back.
After graduating from college and pursuing modeling, my skin grew even thicker as I heard regular critiques on my physical appearance on a daily basis.
So you would think being mom-shamed should be cake for me right? Wrong.
Over the last two years of having people shame me, my daughter and my parenting skills, it really started to take a toll on me. Hearing these horrible things about my parenting skills—and about my daughter—hurt even more coming from strangers than people I actually knew. I've never questioned myself more as a parent than after reading these comments.
Constantly hearing how you are doing something wrong does something to you. It makes you view yourself as less than, as not good enough. I would frequently stay up at night with tears streaming down my face. I felt embarrassed and bullied by the comments that I was failing at motherhood.
With comments like, "Aria seems slow and why doesn't she know all her colors yet or why isn't she talking like the rest of the kids her age," I was really started to hurt worse and worse.
I know a lot of people would argue that because I put my life on social media, I'm asking for people to comment on it. I've heard it a thousand times; "It comes with the job." I disagree.
I will never understand why any person would want to shame another person, let alone a 2-year-old. Especially a mother to another mother. We all know firsthand how hard motherhood is. Why can't we support and uplift each other instead of tearing each other down? Aren't we on this crazy journey of motherhood together?
Now more than ever I think we need each other to lean on and support. Instead of constantly shaming or judging, we need to have each other's backs. Mom-shaming needs to end. Period.
Becoming a mother has opened my eyes to so many things, both good and bad. I want to continue to use my platform to shed light on these topics. And to remind you to think twice before you send a hurtful message to a stranger on the internet. At the end of the day, we're all just human, doing our best.
If you have experienced mom-shaming try to remember that the only opinion that matters is your own. If you are doing the best you can, that is truly is all that counts. There is no one right way to parent and raise loving, successful and good children. Remember that.
Oh, and by the way, we're having macaroni for dinner.
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