Recently, I decided to take a stand against mom bullies. No longer will I be shamed for breastfeeding in public or for having a baby that won’t sleep through the night. No longer will I sit idly by while mom bullies troll the internet under the shroud of anonymity shaming other moms. Instead I will stand up for me and my baby and all the moms out there — because all of us are just doing the best we can!
We spend so much time teaching our kids about being kind, sharing and not bullying others, yet, we can’t seem to keep our own judgements aside when it comes to others moms. I have been shocked to see and hear some of the things that moms say and do to each other. Why can’t we moms support each other? Mommy-ing is hard enough without the added pressures to be “perfect.” News flash — there is no “perfect” mom!
One morning, I was on one of my mom Facebook groups and one of the other moms stated that “Pumping from day one is always dangerous. No matter what!” Well, as a NICU mom with a baby who could not breastfeed for various health reasons, I had two choices: either pump or give my baby formula, I opted to pump because that is what seemed best to me. Her comment made me feel like a terrible mom. Like I did something dangerous to my baby. To that mom, it was the best thing I could do in my situation.
On several occasions I have been asked “what did you do to make her come so early?” As though there was something I did to make it happen, or could have done to prevent it. The first few times I heard this question, I cried. As my skin thickened, I learned to respond with “there was nothing wrong. The doctors all said it was a ‘normal’ pregnancy and then here comes baby!” There are so many reasons why a baby might come early, and most of them have nothing to do with what the mom did or didn’t do. I don’t have an answer for why my baby came early, perhaps it would be easier if I did (maybe not). All I know is I did everything I was supposed to do and I couldn’t have done anything to prevent it. Because believe me, if I could have prevented it, I would have.
I have a friend who suffered from low supply and had tried everything to breastfeed. She had longed for that bond since she learned she was pregnant. She had heard everyone say “Breast is best” and even attended breastfeeding classes with her husband. But, at the end of the day, her baby’s health mattered more and she, with her doctor’s advice, switched to formula. She was out one day, and pulled out the bottle to give her baby when a complete stranger walked up and said “Breast is best! Studies show that it increases their IQ. You should really try to breastfeed if you want to have a smart kid.” My friend, distraught already for feeling like she had failed, started to wonder if she was dooming her child’s future success. Would he not have a chance at Harvard because she couldn’t breastfeed him?! Of course he can still be anything he wants to be and fed is always best!
So, how do you deal with mom bullies?
Pick your battles.
Sometimes it’s best to just nod, say thank you and walk away instead of starting an argument. But, if you need to say something, keep it civil, no need to stoop to their level. Something like “Thank you for the advice, what worked for you and your babies may not work for me and mine.”
Trust your mom gut.
Above all, remember no mom is perfect, no kid is perfect, and there is no perfect family. We are all just figuring this whole mom thing out.
Us moms should not shame each other — we should support each other! Every mom and every baby is different. It is so easy to get caught up in trying to be “perfect” and to seek validation from others. Some of us co-sleep, some of us don’t. Some of us bottle feed, some of us don’t. Some of us use only organic, homemade food, while some of us prefer the convenience of prepared food. Some throw grand parties for their kids, while others prefer small affairs. And, guess what? All of them are correct! There is no right way to mom, but the way you mom is right for you and your kids. So I implore all moms out there — stand up to mom bullies! Do not judge others! And..
If you see another mom getting bullied, stand up for her!
“When women support each other, incredible things happen” – unknown