Yesterday I got up the courage to post a photo of my carseat install on a Facebook page that is dedicated to ensuring that parents have correctly installed child seats and are using correct models/positioning to optimize safety for little ones as they travel.
“Noble cause,” I thought as I snapped photos of my son happily sitting in his car seat chomping away on a granola bar. “I’ll just be sure everything is safe and run this past the professionals.”
Snap. Snap. POST. Annnd wait.
Thirty seconds passed and my phone lit up like a police scanner. The comments rolled in and there is only one way to describe the way I felt: SORRY.
I was sorry that my seatbelt was twisted and that it wasn’t perfectly set in the seatbelt “guide.” I was sorry that my head rest wasn’t high enough and that the recline looked to “severe.” Most of all I was sorry I put my post out on this site in the first place. As I read the responses from these women, I realized that mom shaming is a real issue — one that is far under discussed.
Instead of being kind or even respectful, the women on this site tore into me like hungry lions on a crippled, baby wildebeest. When another woman came to my defense they attacked her and the “moderators” threatened to delete her from the site. The comments and responses poured in at an alarming rate until I finally chimed in.
“If all of you could kindly pull your fangs out of me, I would like to know what I can do to correct the issues mentioned above and make sure my son is safe in the car.”
Damn. A bad mother? An irresponsible parent? I never expected a response like that to my request for carseat guidance. Even after fixing the seat and getting the blessing of the carseat Nazis, I still felt dismantled. So I did what I always do, I sent a VOX to my best friend, Tina.
“Girl, don’t let those bitches get you down” (this is why I love her) “You’re a great mom.” She went on to remind me that only one or two generations back parents thought they were doing a really great job if they actually put their kids in seat belts. I remember taking one or two vacations laying in the cargo area of my parents’ Grand Wagoneer. Just me, my sister, some blankets and absolutely no child restraints. Those were actually great times. I’m not saying I would ever do that with my own children, but I’m also saying that my parents are awesome, they love me, would die for me, and they let me roll around in the back of a car on the winding road to the ocean. For real.
Back then, if you took the time to take your child on a family vacation you were doing a great job. Being a good parent was based on quality time spent, lessons passed down, and whether or not your children were happy and healthy. Flash forward to now and it seems like parents have been strapped to some kind of medieval-style parenting torture device.
Did your 2-year-old’s “Thomas The Train” birthday party include tiny working trains made out of organic string cheese? No? Bring in the STRETCHER!
Did you exclusively breast feed your baby until age 12 while wearing fair-trade hemp gaucho pants and standing in a field of pesticide free wild roses? NO? STRETCHER!
If you vaccinate your kids, don’t vaccinate your kids, breast feed, bottle feed, spank, don’t spank … it doesn’t matter. You can’t win. Even the lotion you put on your child is under scrutiny. Give. Me. A. Break.
Is it just me or has the climate among moms become exceedingly hostile? Aren’t we supposed to be helping each other? In biblical times women would gather in the red tent (the historic version of Facebook groups) and talk about life, relationships and raising children. EVERYONE in the red tent was on their period or pregnant (thus the ‘red’ tent) and yet they all seemed to get along, love on each other and practice enough tact to make that time together valuable and enjoyable. Ehh hem. Could we get with the program, please?
It makes me so sad to see a post pop up form a mom asking for coupons for formula or for suggestions for the best organic formula, etc, and to see the harpies come up from the depths to breast-milk haze the poor darling until she is most likely in tears and feeling spectacularly crappy about her ability to mother her child. News flash, not everyone breast feeds. Get over it and help. Also, these people are asking. They are trying. They care. Extend grace or shut the heck up.
Being a mom is incredibly hard. Try approaching your country-life husband who thinks it should be legal for kids to ride on hay bales in the back of pickup trucks and suggesting that he needs to invest in ANOTHER $300 convertible car seat so he has one in his vehicle instead of the forward-facing booster seat that the carseat Nazis told me is the safety-equivilant of a soiled pizza box.
I’m up against it already, ok?
So when I finally get the seat and get it in the truck, take a picture and ask for your help, just be nice to me and tell me what I need to do to be sure it’s as safe as it can possibly be. In fact just be nice.
Just. Be. Nice.
Let’s all start there and see how big of a difference that makes. As moms we are all familiar with this little gem of wisdom, “Treat others as you would want to be treated.” Here’s a suggestion for Facebook: Let’s program in a “time out” button. If my experience is any indicator, there are lots of social-meida mom-shamers who could use some “time to think about what they’ve done.”
All those in favor?