You’ll have your skinny second cousin (who’s raised four kids) telling you that you need to lose that baby belly, or that next door neighbour asking you what’s wrong with your child when junior throws a tantrum on her doorstep for the nth time.
Indeed, being a new mum is as tough as it’s all cracked up to be, even without judgement and shame being heaped on you.
Since mums everywhere are already so hard on themselves, don’t you just wish for a little bit more sympathy? In fact, American actress and mum of two Kristen Bell once said, “I’m not a good mom; I’m not a bad mom. I’m the mom I am and I try very hard, and when I fail, that’s OK.”
Do you find yourself spending too much time and energy defending your parenting choices or ignoring other judge-y mums? Stop! Let’s take a look at issues that have led to mums everywhere being ridiculed, shamed and questioned.
“People can be really insensitive and ask things like, ‘why didn’t you want to give birth naturally?’”
1. Screentime for junior
So, you don’t allow phones at the dining table, or even in the car. But sometimes, all a mum needs is a 20-minute breather at the end of a tiring day. “I admit that I do let Sophie use the iPad for a while every day ― of course, I’d hate for other people to know this, but it’s the only way I can have that brief moment of peace, since I also have to tend to her little brother,” says Raina Yang, mum to Sophie, 4, and Sebastian, 2 months.
2. Pain relief or a C-section
“I had to have a Caesarean because my pelvic bone structure was just too small to accommodate my 3.4kg baby,” says Yvette Gomez, mum to Shaun, 6 months. “But there’s a real pressure to have the ‘perfect birth’. People can be really insensitive and ask things like, ‘why didn’t you want to give birth naturally?’”
3. The mum bod
You might have wider hips, a jelly belly, a C-section scar and stretch marks after having a baby ― and that’s completely normal! However, society can be cruel ― just as Tanis Jex-Blake, a mum of five from Alberta, Canada, found out. She attempted to sunbathe in public in a bikini for the first time since giving birth to her first child 13 years ago, but instead got mum-shamed by a group of young people who started “Pointing, laughing and pretending to kick me”.
In a Facebook post, she wrote, “I'm sorry that my stomach isn’t flat and tight. I’m sorry that my belly is covered in stretch marks. I'm NOT sorry that my body has housed, grown, protected, birthed and nurtured FIVE fabulous, healthy, intelligent and wonderful human beings.”
Indeed, all mums should be proud of the amazing feat their bodies have accomplished to bring a baby into the world, we say!
4. Feeding formula
Sure, we all know that breastmilk is best, but we’ve also got to admit that breastfeeding is not easy. The nursing mum may have to struggle with sore nipples, backaches and the stress that comes with not being able to provide enough.
Sometimes, you just have to pick your battles.
“I almost fell into a depression because I had a low milk supply ― and I didn’t want to tell my other mummy friends that I was supplementing with formula because I felt like a failure compared to them,” says Belinda Zhuo, mum to Ignatius, 1. “But really, who cares what anyone else thinks ― as long as your baby is healthy, and you’re happy.”
5. Packaged food
We all try to give our kiddos the best nutrition, and many mums try to pack a balanced lunchbox loaded with fruits and veggies, and perhaps that little cup of yoghurt.
But we all know it isn’t always easy to do this. So, instead of sneering at the mum who let her cutie bring that box of Oreos as a snack, just think ― while you were dragging yourself to the supermarket to shop for the freshest organic produce, this mum was probably cuddling up to her munchkin sharing a great story, instead. Sometimes, you just have to pick your battles.
6. Public tantrums
You might have the sweetest little 6-month-old who rarely cries, so it’s hard not to go “tsk tsk” when you see that dishevelled mum at the supermarket trying to bribe her toddler with a lollipop, so he would stop rolling on the ground screaming.
7. Snot on the face
Your toddler might have paint on his hands, spaghetti sauce down his shirt, chocolate stains on his face, and mud in his hair…and he probably won’t care. By the way, just because your tot isn’t spotless doesn’t mean that your parenting methods are shoddy. With all that energy spent trying to get your mini-me to eat, take his nap, and generally stay out of trouble, a little snot on the face is usually at the bottom of your priorities.
8. Career choices
Working mums are often accused of picking their careers over their child’s well-being. Really, just give them a break ― mums who have to spend most of the day at work, away from their child already deal with mummy guilt. But loving both the work that they do, as well as their kids, doesn’t mean that they are compromising their work ethic or parenting abilities.
With all that energy spent trying to get your mini-me to eat, take his nap, and generally stay out of trouble, a little snot on the face is usually at the bottom of your priorities.
Even stay-at-home mums are often judged ― mum of three, Diana Fung shares, “People think I’m taking the easy way out by choosing to stay home with my kids. Actually, I’ve never done anything more challenging in my life.”
9. Sleeping arrangements
Whether you co-sleep with your three kids, or let your baby sleep in his own cot and own room from the age of 6 months, there’s always going to be a myriad of opinions about what’s right and what’s wrong.
“I sleep-trained all my kids when they were 4 months old, and I never regretted it. Of course, I faced tons of criticisms about how I was cruel for letting them cry,” says Fung. What works for one family may not work for the other, so it’s best to respect the other parent’s decision.
10. A messy house
Once the kids arrive, you can throw that imaginary domestic goddess image you were aiming for right out of the window. Even when you find pockets of time to rearrange the cushions or fold the kids’ clothes, you’ll soon realise that everything gets trashed within 10 seconds of the kids getting home. In the end, you’ll throw your hands in the air, pour yourself a glass of wine, put your feet up and tell yourself that you deserve to chill, anyway.
Photos: iStock, Facebook/Tanis Jex-Blake
Elsewhere on SmartParents.sg…