Written by: Gabby Cole, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
Here’s a question worth asking, "Why does “mom shaming” even exist?"
It’s more than just moms shaming moms. Mom shaming tells us that people do not spend enough time acknowledging or understanding the fact that we all have led very different lives up until (and often during) motherhood. Our perspective, experiences, personalities all play a big part in shaping how we make decisions.
Instead of sharing the ways I have felt mom-shamed, I’ve decided to take a different approach. It turns out I’ve been guilty of mom-shaming, too.
After my twins reached school age and I found myself spending a ton of time with the parents of my kids’ friends, I thought I would have an undeniable bond with other mothers whose kids play with mine. Interestingly, I encountered differences I wasn’t expecting. Take, for instance, moms who are chronically late and don’t make plans weeks in advance. I realized I was passing judgment on these moms without even meaning to.
As a classic Type A personality, I am self-proclaimed high strung, competitive, fast-paced, and a stickler for a solid schedule with absolutely no room for deviation. I would rather be 2 hours early than 2 minutes late.
So to me, this seemed like a crazy and borderline irresponsible way to approach life! I couldn’t wrap my head around how people live like this. How does a lack of structure not send the whole system tumbling down?
As a salesperson, I have been trained to identify the personality traits of my customers to better serve their needs. It’s a skill I’ve honed pretty well, and I remember a specific time when my company split all of the employees into groups by our Myers Briggs Personality types. Every group was given the same problem and asked to come up with a solution to present to the other groups. Predictably, my group’s solution was the polar opposite to our complimentary personality type’s group. I was astounded by how foreign their solution seemed to me, almost rude and insincere. But from their point of view, they approached the situation as respectfully and effectively as possible.
I realized this lesson from my sales life could easily apply to how I interacted with the other moms. I framed my own perspective in a new way: to me, being late and not planning is disorganized, disrespectful, and stressful. However, maybe to someone with a different personality type, planning is stressful, and they like to be more flexible with their time, taking life as it comes.
Neither person is wrong—just different. Here are a few ideas on how to live peacefully when we are all so different.
If you and another mom don’t agree on breastfeeding in public, that is okay. The opposite of mom-shaming is not to agree on everything. It’s to appreciate the differences.
Instead of judging, ask a question, “Just out of curiosity, how do you feel when you need to feed your baby in the middle of a crowded restaurant?” Their response may give you some insight you didn’t have before.
I recently saw a quote that really struck home, and it went something along the lines of, “Be aware of what you let people get away with because you are training them how to treat you.” I am in control of what I let affect me. Since I don’t like last-minute planning, my boundary is that if another mom calls me wanting to do a playdate that day, I will most likely say no. Not only have I set a boundary, but I have opened the lines of communication. That person is more likely to communicate their needs, and we both are better off for it in the future.
Understand Why It Hurts
It makes sense that when someone comments about how we raise our kids, the response is often emotional instead of rational. As mothers, we are designed to be very protective when it comes to our children. Before you speak out about what you disagree with, remind yourself that it stings a little more coming from another mother because we are supposed to be people with a powerful shared experience.
More than anything, it is important to understand that as human beings, our commonalities outweigh our differences. This is especially true for mothers. Our shared experience is far more powerful than anything we do differently. What we have in common: a fierce love of our children, a commitment to them, and long days and nights spent trying to give them the best we can. Try to see that part of the next mom you meet before you notice anything else.
Gabby Cole, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
I am Gabby Cole—Founder/CEO, mother of twin girls, and advocate for moms everywhere. I was married in 2011, and by 2012, I was a mother to twin girls. I have an established career in pharmaceutical sales, as well as pursuing my dreams of becoming a “Mompreneur.” I hope to dedicate my life to helping women like me find their purpose and become the woman and mother they want to be.