I remember when I first found out I was pregnant, I saw some Facebook post a woman had shared of a mom who was on her cellphone while her kid wailed “hold me…” in the background as she texted away. The comments were brutal. I mean… brutal. So much that I felt like it was on the brink of cyber bullying. It genuinely scared me. I couldn’t help but wonder if this woman who shared the video even knew the mom. If she knew the circumstances the mother was going through before publicly shaming her on the internet. Don’t get me wrong, this mother could’ve been the worst, but she also could’ve been texting a friend asking for advice because her kid is going through a hard leap and won’t calm tf down. Was it okay for her to make a snap judgement based on thirty seconds of interaction? How many times have we walked passed that screaming kid in Target while the mom just moseys on ignoring them? Does it mean that the mother doesn’t care? No! It may just be that the mom is at her wits end and knows that buying into the tantrum might not be the best thing for HER child’s development. I can’t help but feel like social media is such an easy platform for judgement and shaming. We can hide behind the smokescreen of our cellphones and become armchair revolutionists, deciding how other people should live their lives.
One of my dear girlfriends Megan, is a social media influencer and fashion blogger. I wanted to preface everything I’m about to say with “She is one of the sweetest, hardest working moms I know.” But f*** that. I shouldn’t have to, because although that may be true it doesn’t matter. What matters is how she was portrayed on the internet, based on a five minute interaction with a complete stranger. Another mother, might I add.
Megan works with many boutiques and products and stays quite busy between her FT work and side hustle. She was hired to promote a product – sunscreen I believe – and headed down to the pool one evening with her little girl. Again, not that it matters but Meg had already spent the day with her daughter at the pool, her husband was cooking dinner, it was 7pm (almost bedtime) and she had a deadline. A deadline for her paid promotion. She ran down to the pool with baby girl in tow wearing matching swim suits, made a phone call or two, took some pics (looking ab fab by the way) and then headed back home about her business. Or so she thought. Fast forward a couple days/weeks and she’s being dissected on Good Morning America and USA Today. Another mother observed from a distance, and decided to make a social media post about what she has witnessed. A social media post that was shared 203,000 times. Let me say this… sure I’m biased because she’s on of my girlfriends. But if she hadn’t been I’m pretty sure I’d still feel the same.
Please find the USA Today article below which contains a link to the original Facebook Post.
Okay so here are MY takeaways from this…
1. If the main point of sharing this observation was to educate other mothers not to take things at face value, and to know that there’s more going on behind those Instagram posts… isn’t that a little hypocritical being that there actually WAS more behind that five minute interaction that Flint was not aware of?
2. If the objective of the post was to reassure other mothers to not feel insecure, is she not creating a platform for Megan to feel insecure?
3. Why shouldn’t moms who have perfect curls post Instagram posts? Pregnancy and motherhood can take away so much of our self esteem. We sacrifice our bodies for another human, let me be proud of mine if I’m still in love with it afterward. If my boobs still face upward and yours don’t am I supposed to hide mine in fear that it’ll hurt your feelings? Flint states, “…Mamas, don’t compare yourself. You ARE enough! You are amazing and the very best part is that you are REAL! Your dirty shirt and your messy house and your happy children are real and they are proof that you are doing it right!” I can’t help but feel as though the underlying message here is one of envy. I can understand that maybe her intent was to lift other women, but you don’t lift other women by pushing another woman down. Although Flint never outright said that Megan was less of a mother, the negative connotation of her words left readers very open to assumption.
4. The use of language in this post is a cry for attention. At one point Flint says, “Mama called a friend on her phone and began another conversation while Little One politely and repeatedly asked “Mama, can you come in the water with me, please?” She was ignored. “Mama, come play with me?” she asked 4 more times. Mama glanced over at her but never got off the phone. After 10 minutes Mama ended her call, collected the sunscreen that was never applied, the water toys that never touched the water, and then her daughter and left the pool.” If you’re going to be bold enough to discuss another mother’s interactions with their own offspring, I really feel as though you should be prepared for a massive rebuttal – especially if you put it on the World Wide Web. Flint must have some large cojones to suggest that this wasn’t a major mom shaming moment. The subtlety is lost on me, and I saw straight through this poor attempt to paint my friend as anything but a doting mother.
5. Messy hair and stained shirts don’t equate to being a good mom. Who knows what makes us great moms… I’m sure a lot of us are figuring it out. If being happy and happy in her skin sends a positive message to Megan’s daughter, is that not good parenting? Do we have to settle for constant dirty hair and smelly armpits to be considered a “good mom?” I’m not saying it’s not part of the package, which Meg is VERY aware of. While I am fully in support of exposing our postpartum bodies, stretch marks and all, let’s try to remember that not all PP bodies are covered in marks and that doesn’t make them any less postpartum. Your version of perfect does not reflect mine.
6. Megan was working. If she had been behind a desk and her daughter was wanting her attention, would Flint have been so quick to judge?
7. At one point in her rant, Flint states “Ugh!! She’ll (hypothetical mother who sees the post and is peanut butter and jealous) never know that how she spent her time that day was so much better in God’s eyes and in her children’s eyes than that “perfect Mama” at the pool.” So, you’re telling me that God prefers messy haired mamas than my friend? Noted. Give me a break! Who are you to determine that? Are you God? Sit down.
One day you might see me, either I’m in sweats at Target or in heels at a bar. I might be at a playground with my daughter, or ignoring her while she screams on the floor because she couldn’t get ice cream at 8am. Either way, mind ya business and move on. Listen, I’m all for “See Something Say Something,” but if that “Something” is a fraction of my relationship with my child that isn’t harmful, and you’re making a snap judgement then go on about your day, Karen. Ain’t nobody got time for that… really… I’m too busy being a great mom. Just like my dear friend, Megan.