******In response to the many direct messages I get regularly……
If you are going to call me a bad mother please say it to my face. Come and spend a night with me holding my babies who refuse to sleep in their own beds but instead no matter how much cuddling and rocking and singing always end up squished into our bed with their toes and elbows sticking out in random ways all night long. (Though to be honest I don’t mind because I know they wont always want to sleep all squished up next to me)
If you are going to call me a bad mother and say I favor one child over the other please come say it when I am holding them in my arms Hang out with us for a day and witness the individual needs of my children and the lengths I go to to meet them where they are at. Watch me make three different meals for dinner because Jessamyn wants chicken but Ophelia hates chicken and wants a quesadilla while my husband and I want to eat an actual adult meal. Watch me hold one napping baby while trying to help the other one read a book or color a picture or go to the bathroom because potty training doesn’t care about naps or how many arms you have available to help. Please if you are going to come from a “place of love” actually come in and with love tell me how in the brief moments I share online you have seen me ruining my children’s life and playing favorites…. and how it is obvious that I favor one more than the other. I will let you in on a secret they are NOT the same and there is no cookie cutter approach to parenting that will ever meet their needs individually in the same way AND the moments shared online do not make up the entirety of our life or even adequately capture any of the experiences we have daily AND I would never want them to because some things (maybe most things) are spontaneous and no social media account is ever going to be able to adequately capture all that motherhood is.
If you are going to accuse me of not dressing my children warm enough, not letting them play and be kids enough, or not giving them enough attention please again come and say it to my face. Whisper it to me… no better yet shout it at me while I am trying to talk my four year old into wearing pants with her favorite princess dress (even though it apparently doesn’t match and she swears it is warm outside) or a jacket over her butterfly wings because it is cold outside but even still she wants her wings free to fly and they apparently don’t fly as well over a coat. Come and let me know how bad my parenting is when I am looking at the budget and trying to find the money for my daughter to take a dance class even though we don’t honestly have it but she really really really just wants to be a ballerina… please come yell it at me then. Or when I am up all night with one baby who is sick and then up all day reading and coloring and dancing with the other because she isn’t sick and is also not nocturnal and actually needs someone to hang out with her all day…. please come sit with me then and tell me how I am ruining their lives.
Please know that if you are coming from a place of love your words should speak love, light, and kindness. Please understand I don’t mean this as an attack or an insult but just an observation that maybe what you are critiquing in me isn’t in fact coming from love at all. I mean does love really need to be announced or prefaced as “loving”? Maybe instead of judging the mother online who posts one child more than the other (maybe thats the only one she can get to sit still) , or is only sharing small snippets of their life via stories (maybe she doesn’t want to have her phone out for every moment of every day), or any number of scenarios that you might feel like judging…. maybe look for the love. Maybe instead of coming from a “place of love” just share the love you observe. I may not be a good mother but I have found in my few years of parenting (which are very few my oldest is only 4) that a well placed compliment and words of encouragement go a lot further than anything i have ever said in judgement from “a place of love.”
Maybe the only place of love we should be coming from is a place where we look for the positive and look for ways to help each other on the crazy journey that is motherhood. Maybe Instagram and blogs and Facebook shouldn’t be places for finding people to judge and critique but places for community and an outlet for us all to build each other up. I am not the perfect mother, I will never be the perfect mother…. and I know that. What I also know though is that I and every other mother I know don’t need more voices telling us how much we suck. I already spend 90% of my day worrying I am not giving my kids enough, worrying they are missing out on experiences and opportunities what I don’t need is more outside voices “in love” critiquing my parenting. What I do need and I am pretty sure every mother on the planet needs is someone to sit beside me and support me, cry with me, and encourage me… no announcement of love needed.
So if you are going to call me a bad mother please just don't … instead maybe take a moment to scroll a little further, sit a little longer, and hold some space for the moments you don’t see online. Know that your brief encounter with any mother is just that a brief encounter…. it is completely impossible for you to see it all, know it all, and experience everything she has been through or is going to face. So maybe instead of adding to her worries and feelings of insecurity… maybe take a moment to listen to her, see her and the heart that so desperately wants the world for her babies and actually speak words that are loving and positive.
Maybe if we all actually saw and spoke what is love we wouldn’t have to say things like “I am saying this in love.” It is just a thought and if you are reading this and have been called a bad mother please know you aren’t alone and also one persons judgement of you doesn’t define you or the way you are raising your babies. Love doesn’t have to be “said in love” it just is loving and motherhood doesn’t have to be a lonely place where we all live in fear of each others judgement… or at least that is what I am choosing to believe.