This post is sponsored by Similac. I was compensated for this post but all opinions are my own.
Motherhood is an incredible thing. It’s an adventure. It’s a journey. It’s a new chapter, battle, dilemma, feat, loving success every single day. As the mother of 5 children, I know first-hand just how miraculous and beautiful motherhood is… it’s serious and funny and busy and awesome and scary and emotional and just about everything in between! It’s funny, my own mother has told me that I came into the world wanting to be a mother, I always had a baby doll in my arms as a child. I guess you can say that I’m someone who has had motherhood in my DNA since birth! When I finally did become a mom, it was as if the world was as it should be for me.
Motherhood is a sisterhood.
I’ve always believed that we’re all in this “motherhood” adventure together. Everyone’s journey to becoming a mother is different… and everyone mothers their children differently… but at the core of motherhood is the same truth, love. We all have unconditional love for our children. As I like to say to my kids, I would fight lions and tigers and bears for them… and I would swim the deepest oceans and climb the highest mountains.
Throughout the course of my 10 years as a mom, I have definitely seen, witnessed and experienced mom shaming. It’s something that has always bothered me to my core because motherhood is tough enough, but having someone make you feel bad, as if you’re doing “it” wrong – it’s downright hurtful.
I’ll never forget a moment when I was pregnant with my 4th son, Henry back in 2008. This experience was defining for me because it really changed me as a mother. I had joined a new mom group because we had just moved back to RI and I was really trying to meet new moms. I had been invited over to one of the mom’s houses for an afternoon lunch and was so excited for the luncheon. I couldn’t wait to meet new moms. I couldn’t wait to meet their kids and for my sons to have friends. It was really exciting for me. I showed up with my pregnant belly, along with my sons William (4), Alex (3) and Benjamin (2).
The afternoon was going great (so I thought)… I happened to go into the bathroom with my son Benjamin to change his diaper and overheard 3 of the moms talking about me.
“I can’t believe she’s having another! She seems to have her hands full with 3! How will she manage 4!? Plus the boys seem like a lot to handle.”
And so on and so on and so on.
I froze in that bathroom, afraid to leave.
It was BEYOND hurtful for me to hear all of that. I stood there trying not to cry and really trying to hold it together. After a bit of time, I finally exited the bathroom and TRIED my best to hold it together as I came up with an excuse to leave. Of course – everyone said, “Oh… don’t leave! We love having you here with all the boys!” They didn’t know I heard them. The second I got everyone in the car, the tears just shed like crazy. I was hurt. I was horrified that these women who DIDN’T KNOW ME would dare question me as a mom, regardless of how many children I had or wanted to have.
The irony was that I joined that group to feel connected and to find women I could be “myself” with all the time. I wanted to find some mom-lifelines.
This moment was defining for me because I’ll never forget the advice I got from a fellow mom friend soon after that experience. I was venting to her and crying about what had happened and what I had heard the women say… she simply said to me, “Audrey… everyone’s version of normal is different.”
This advice has always rung so true to me.
My version of normal (at that point) was 3 sons close in age and being pregnant with my 4th. I never knew any other way… to make me feel that I looked overwhelmed and to make me feel that my children were too wild and too crazy (they weren’t and I’m not just saying this), was truly so hurtful.
Everyone’s version of motherhood is different.
Everyone’s mothering is different.
We all strive for the same thing… to give our children as much love and happiness as we can.
That’s the common thread.
There should be no shame and hurt in that simple truth for anyone.