“In truth this morning I feel like you’d see #MomFail in my eyes. Lots of reasons, not the least is bribing the Boy to go to school with the very lollipop I took away & expressly told him he couldn’t have for breakfast. *sigh* But at least he went to school, right? #PostiveThoughts” -March 11, 2015
When I first heard about the #Mommitment movement, it was a no-brainer. I have long tried to be a positive force, to see the bright side & offer kindness. I am always ready & truly happy to support another mom. Stop the judgements – Stop the MomWars – Sign me up!
Then I went one further and volunteered to write about and share the message of #Mommitment.
Just one little problem. Over the last few months I’ve realized that while I don’t often feel the need to explain myself to those who would judge me, in my head I’m brutal when critiquing my own skills in the parenting department. So much that I’ve been unable to carry a flag for this movement because I feel like a fraud. On one hand, I claim to embrace my mistakes in favor of no regrets, then on the other I publicly shame myself for being a failure.
The truth is, when it comes to motherhood I’ve felt like a failure from the outset.
After all, we had a plan – natural delivery – hypnobirthing – no drugs. But when the day came I caved on each point in succession, finally giving into delivery by cesarean.
I remember sobbing; desperately disappointed that I couldn’t deliver my baby vaginally. I apologized repeatedly to my husband. I had failed my first test of motherhood.
After I went back to work & I just couldn’t keep up my milk production, I was glad to supplement with formula. Even as I weaned my son, I kept pumping & stocked my freezer with a supply. Outwardly I spoke of being proud I could find a way to give him breast milk until he was a year old. Inside, I felt guilty each time we replaced a nursing feed with a bottle. I was torn between being relieved (I wanted my body back!), and clearly seeing my failure to reach my goal: nursing my son for his first year.
And so it went. Time after time I set the bar high on the motherhood scoreboard, then chastised myself when I missed that mark.
As with all things I’ve ever been insecure about, I covered my shame with self-deprecating jokes. “Oh yeah, mother of the year here! Chalk up another #MomFail for Serendipity!”
#MomFail: We use the term so casually, throwing it about on social media, in conversations at the park and on those rare & cherished moms’ nights out. We use it to describe all the ways (big and small) we aren’t living up to the perfect vision of motherhood.
Not that it’s a big deal, right? Exactly whose vision are we failing? Whose judgement are we trying to dodge when we stamp #MomFail on our own foreheads?
As one who made a habit of making such jokes at my own expense, I’ll admit often they were intended to thwart anyone who would attack my parenting. Yet, another part of me screamed out for someone to tell me how ridiculous I was being each time I claimed a #MomFail.
That’s the crux of it, isn’t it? As parents we all want that support. We all want someone – a partner, a friend, a doctor, a member of our community – to reach out in our moments of doubt. We crave, no, we need a little validation. We need someone to tell us we are doing it right. Whatever it is & however we are getting it done, if we are stepping up & showing up for our kids, then chalk up a #ParentingWin. Sometimes we need someone to remind us our children will survive, and thrive, simply because we are there for them.
This is precisely what #Mommitment is about. Reaching out to those you know won’t jump to judge, and lifting each other up. Doing what you can, with as little as smile & nod or a kind word, to let our fellow mommies (and daddies) know they are not alone and they are not failures.
I came to #Mommitment thinking I had a lot to offer, if very little to learn. Once again, my expectation is blown away by reality. It is most certainly a win; the women I’ve met have demonstrated such acceptance, and forgiveness, and kindness.
With new perspective I’m ready to make an additional pledge. I vow to wipe the stamp of #MomFail off my brow.
I vow to treat myself with the same kindness I would show another woman, and reserve my self-judgement in favor of embracing the best I am able to do today.
I encourage you to join me.
Yes, this is easier said than done. We are our own worst critics, but not all criticism is constructive. Ultimately, calling out failure, most especially my own, isn’t worth my energy. My new rule: If I wouldn’t say it to someone else, or let someone talk that trash about my friend, I shouldn’t be saying it to myself.
From now on if I see that #MomFail stamp headed my way, I’m just going to brush it back with a hearty #Fuhgeddaboudit!