The Mommy Wars / The Shame Game
I've seen this video floating around on social media for a week or so now and haven't taken the time to watch it. I finally did this morning and was left in tears. This comes at a timely point in my life for me, as I am struggling to juggle some unexpected curveballs. I also had the opportunity to see Brene Brown speak last night (therapist geek out moment...!), so her words are very fresh in my mind. Here's my truth: I am a Registered Play Therapist. I've worked hard to earn that accreditation - I took a lot of extra classes and received many, many hours of supervision all about parenting, child development, therapeutic activities and techniques for working with children, etc. Yet, every single day I question whether or not I am a good mother myself. Every. Single. Day. The story I tell myself is that I don't really know what I'm doing, I'm not qualified, I can't give others advice because I am so unsure of what I am doing as a parent myself. Am I making the right choice for my child? What have I done today that's potentially damaging to his soul, his little spirit? How's that for vulnerability?
Then I watched this. All of these women have different stories and are parenting their children differently from one another. From the outside they seem pretty confident in their parenting choices, then you hear what they are really thinking. And you hear what their truth is. It felt like someone was wringing out my heart and uncovering all of the things. I felt connected to at least one thing every one of these moms said. I realized how much I still compare myself to other moms, even though I know better. As it turns out, we all probably judge one another and none of us know what that other person's truth is. A quote that I hold on to often is something along the lines of, "Every day, every person you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about." The fact that I seem comfortable and confident in my role as a working mom doesn't mean that I didn't cry the entire way to work after dropping my child off at preschool one morning.
I'm extremely fortunate to be surrounded by people who help to lift me up and who will call me out when the story I'm telling myself simply doesn't make sense. Will I make mistakes? Of course. I can't grow if I don't fail first and fail often. Brene Brown talks about the difference between risking failure and embracing it. It's not that you're prepared to risk failing - it's that you WILL fail. It's what you do with it that matters. So yes, let's stop the shaming and the judging that seems so commonplace and almost acceptable in today's parenting culture. And when it feels too overwhelming, ask for help! If I could go back and change one thing about my early days as a new mom, it would be to accept the help that was offered and not pretend that I had everything under control. We can do hard things, no doubt about it, but that doesn't mean we have to do it alone.