In our parent-driven, mommy-guilt culture, there is always a bevy of blogs, articles, and Facebook posts talking about what makes a “real” mom. Things like:
While many moms do these things, there are many moms who are not able or who do not do these things. Real moms also:
There are also many, many women who are fighting every single day to make the dream of motherhood come true. They may not have lost any pregnancies, but they lose every time they see a negative pregnancy test. These women who are fighting so hard to become mothers, whether they have lost babies or not, are still mothers at heart and should not feel as if they're disallowed from the mom club.
Mother’s Day is just a greeting card holiday, anyway, and while there are many sweet things that can come out of it, there are also many hurtful things. If you're a mom, you should not feel guilty about celebrating your motherhood — but don't forget that it isn't universal, it isn't easily achieved for many, and it is a point of extreme pain for 1 out of every 8 couples going through infertility and pregnancy loss.
And regarding “real” motherhood — you wouldn't think there would need to be yet another reminder that there is no single, universal way to birth a child, feed a child, or raise a child, and yet — here we are. Moms who love their babies, attend to their needs, and nourish their bodies are good moms. End of story. The continual theme that seems to frequently pop up is that if you don't do it XYZ way, then it's not the right or “real” way. That is ignorant and annoying.
Let's stop judging each other and ditch the perfectionism and insecurity. At its heart, I think those are the two roots of all this motherhood shaming and judgment. Moms secretly worry that their way isn't the best way, and to be assured it is, they find others who do the same things they do and communally decide it is the only way. Instead, how much better off would children be with moms who raised them in confidence and without comparison? You may not do things as I am, but I am making decisions for my son’s wellbeing, as you are doing for your child(ren), if you're fortunate enough to have them. No two kids are the same, so really, shouldn't every parenting journey be a little different? If you're not yet a parent, it can be easy to judge or envy those who are parents. Things seem awfully different when you're not in the thick of it, and that is true for those who are currently battling infertility (I've been there), those who are new moms (I've been there, too), and those who are more experienced moms (I'm getting there).
Regardless of your current parental status, Mother’s Day, Father's Day, or other holidays can stir up a lot of emotions. So on this day, as on all other days, let us be kind. Let us be supportive. Let us live our own lives, but let us also remember that our lives aren't the only ones that matter. Let us be ourselves confidently, but let us also recognize that our way isn't the only way. Let us not forget where we came from, but let us live in the present, and have hope for the future. Let us find joy in the good things, but let us also find good in the hard things. Let us take care of ourselves, and let us care for the hearts of others.
Whether you are waiting for that pregnancy test to be positive, or whether you're anxiously pregnant and waiting for the birth of your baby, or whether you're mourning the loss of your baby, or whether you're a new mother exhausted and recovering from birth, or whether you're the mother to older babies or children, or whether you're a mom through adoption, or whether you're a stepmom, or whether you're childless by choice, or whether you're an aunt/sister/godmother/nanny/friend, or whether you're not sure where you stand at all... there is a place for you to celebrate who you are in the lives of those around you.
That is what I hope to see women knowing, understanding, and believing on Mother’s Day, and the day after, and every day beyond.
about the author
Aimee McNew, MNT is a certified nutritionist and a writer who specializes in women's health, fertility, autoimmunity, and the Paleo diet. She is passionate about helping others find success through simplified nutrition. Her first book, The Everything Guide to Hashimoto's Thyroiditis: A Healing Plan for Managing Symptoms Naturally released in October, and has been the #1 bestselling new release in gluten-free diets. Order it from Amazon!
All opinions expressed on this site are strictly that: opinions. Nothing replaces the medical advice of your doctor. You are responsible for your own health.