I like to keep things light and positive on all forms of social media, but I’ve chosen to steer in a different direction today because recently something hit very close to home. Excuse me while I get serious on this Thursday morning.
I have a friend named who’s an amazing mom, friend, wife, and daughter of God. If ever I find a random cupcake from The Sweet Tooth Fairy on my doorstep, or a Sonic gift card for a Route 44 drink, she’s usually the one responsible. She lights up any room she’s in and I completely adore her bubbly, outgoing, fun personality. In the short time I’ve known her, she’s made it onto my list of people I know I could call in case of a tragedy when help is needed. She is a good person and an amazing mother.
Last Monday she made a horrible mistake… She left her baby in a shopping cart outside of a grocery store. You might have heard the story already, but before you judge, please click here to listen to her full story.
Cherish has been bashed, judged, vilified, and criticized and I feel the need to say something today because I know her. And I know that this could have happened to me. It could have happened to anyone.
It’s not easy being a mother, but social media makes it harder than it has to be. Mother bullying happens everywhere and it can be ugly. Mothers post on social media about vaccinations, breastfeeding, diet, screen time, schools, the list goes on forever! I don’t unfriend many people on social media accounts, but when I do, this is the main reason. I don’t tolerate it.
In addition, social media trolls are all around us. I have experienced these individuals firsthand. They feed off of leaving hurtful, judgmental, critical comments. They hide behind their computers or smartphones and dissect other’s lives because it’s easier than taking accountability for the unhappiness they feel in their own. They must be ignored. Do not feed their negative energy. Unfollow any account that does not bring positivity or happiness to you- including me. Life is just too short.
As mothers, as women, we need to build one another up. Realize that we all have strengths and we all have weaknesses, but if we all work together, that balance can benefit everyone. If you can post a picture of yourself wearing a bikini with your three small children, don’t say, “What’s your excuse?” Say, “Your strength may not be looking great in a bikini, but you have something to offer this world and whatever it is, it’s awesome.” Build each other up. We’re all doing the best we can.
I have been known so many times to be sucked into dark places of motherhood guilt:
I once left a wiggly ten month-old Posey on a kitchen counter (right beside me) to make a bottle. She fell and broke her collar bone. I cried for days. I didn’t tell anyone. I didn’t even take a photo of her tiny toddling little self wearing the shoulder brace because I was so ashamed.
I was determined to breastfeed Lou successfully for a long time. I had so many milk production issues before I had her, but I was determined to fight until the death to be a successful breastfeeding mom. Reading article after article on social media about how breastfeeding moms are (essentially) better moms didn’t help either. I tried and tried and tried for two months. I agonized over trying everything to up my milk production. On top of the many stresses that a new mother must experience with my fourth baby, I was constantly worried and stressed unnecessarily about this one thing. Weeks passed and she wasn’t growing. She was hungry constantly. Brian begged me to be able to give her a bottle, but my pride was too strong. Finally, on the Sunday that Brian gave her a baby blessing at church, I took a thousand pictures, but couldn’t look at them. She was so tiny and her little legs were so thin. After that day, Brian and I had a long talk. Ultimately, I chose to do what was best for me and my baby, and not what others believed was best. That was a huge turning point in knowing what kind of mother I am. An enormous burden was lifted off of my shoulders once I saw her drinking bottle after bottle and after slowly watching her little legs gain roll after roll. I only wish those mothers posting such negative things online about bottle-fed babies knew what kind of sadness they were creating in other’s lives.
I’m no perfect mother. I feed my kids goldfish crackers. I give them vaccinations (although I think this is the smart thing to do.) I bottle fed them for much of their infant life because I sucked at making milk. I let them play on iPads. On more than one occasion I have lost track of them and found them barefoot at the park down the street. I have fallen asleep feeding a baby and woke up to find my toddler naked on the kitchen counter eating peanut butter from the jar. But, I’ll tell you what. I am a good mom. And I love my kids like nothing you’d believe. Like my friend Cherish said, “No one could love my kids as much as me.” It’s true.
I was put on this earth to love them. I was not put on this earth to tell you or anyone else that I’m doing it right and you’re doing it wrong. I don’t have time for that- I’m just trying to hang on over here. I’m guessing that you are, too. So let’s just tell each other how awesome we’re doing and get back to receiving slobbery kisses while watching Netflix and eating chicken nuggets.
And when a fellow mother makes a mistake, we need to rally and lift up. A mother’s guilt is punishment enough. You, me, her- we’re all doing the best we can. How about we just give each other a big squeeze and bring each other a treat for heaven’s sake.
This mothering stuff isn’t easy.