Social media is a double-edged sword. People have never been more connected, but it also opens the door wide open for so much unwarranted hate and judgment. Everyone is a critic or an expert. And, when it comes to raising children, there doesn't seem to be any room for gray areas, in particular for moms. Our parental values are probably the same, for example, but as individuals, we're bound to have differing ways on instilling that in our kids. Moms find themselves constantly shamed that begin to second guess themselves.
That's why one one mom is urging moms to take back the joys of motherhood from the “soul sucking” social media. In a heartfelt post on Facebook, Melissa Fenton, a mom of four, wrote, “Don’t let the motherhood soul suckers of the world take away one second of your joy of mothering. Not one single second.”
Melissa was inspired to write after a trip to the ob-gyn clinic. She realized her examination room was next to the one for parents-to-be. She could hear the excitement in their voices and the “thump thump” of baby’s heartbeat through the thin walls. She remembered how she first heard the same sound 20 years ago and how it filled her with “instant and immeasurable joy.”
“And then in a split second my smile faded, replaced with a frown and thoughts of all the soul crushing things that modern mothering has in store for that first time mom in the room next to mine,” she wrote. She reflected how every move a mom makes these days seem to warrant a side comment from spectators.
Melissa goes on to list samples of comments:
Gained more than 25 pounds during your pregnancy? You’ll never lose it fatty. Formula fed? Baby will have low I.Q. and be sick all the time. Breastfed for only six weeks? Quitter. Back to work? Neglectful. Staying home? No ambition. Do your kids laundry, make their breakfast, and pack their lunches? You’re raising incompetent future adults. Don’t do anything for your kids? Selfish.
When it can feel like everyone else -- relatives, friends, acquaintances, and strangers -- knows what’s best for your baby better than you do, Melissa reminded moms that your child is exactly that -- your baby.
“Remember that sound of your baby’s heartbeat?” she wrote. “You made that damn heartbeat (or had the privilege of adopting it), so you get to raise it, the way YOU want to raise it. It’s time to get your mothering joy back, deep in your souls. Start now.”
Her words echoed and resounded in the hearts of many other moms. With more than 6,000 reactions and 3,000 shares, her post is also overflowing with comments from other parents.
Many are telling their own stories and sharing their own experiences:
One mom pointed out that though social media has been used to say many hurtful and awful things, there are still good people who use it to spread the love.
Mom-shaming happens, and the pressure it can put on mothers is real. Renowned pediatrician and child development expert Dr. Harvey Karp acknowledges that new parents today may have a tougher journey than previous generations. “Parents are so tough on themselves,” he said. “In fact, parents think they're not even supposed to have help. Everyone thinks they’re supposed to do it on their own.”
It can be the effect of social media where parents are pressured into being “perfect” to avoid being judged. Wherever the unnecessary and unwanted pressure comes from, you know your child best, mom, so you know what's best for her too. As they say, haters are going to hate.