Enough already with the mommy shaming

Amy Fenster Brown

Mommy shaming, as it’s currently called, is nothing new. During this period of self-quarantine, a term that is sort of up for individual interpretation, mommy shaming has become a sport of Olympic proportions. And you don’t have to be a mommy to take part. 

Judging each other is a favorite pastime of moms (and non-moms) far and wide, which is how the term came to be. In fact, it probably could be the great unifier of women from different cultures, varying economic statuses and opposing political viewpoints. We all do it. Sometimes I do it just to get my heart rate up. Judgy gossip is my cardio.

But today we are in a time of crisis, and we are all just doing the best we can, with nowhere to turn for answers to calm our anxieties. 

When will this be over? When can we go back to work and school? When will life go back to normal? WILL life go back to normal? Nobody knows. Nobody.

One fail-safe fallback is to criticize someone else to prop yourself up, to feel that you’re doing the right thing or that your choice is better than someone else’s. If you make a schedule for home-schooling your kids, and it involves a wake-up time, chores, school subjects, lunch and snack breaks and a bedtime, mazel tov. If you are choosing a laid-back approach of letting the kids get the schoolwork done at their own pace while wearing their pajamas and eating chips, mazel tov to you, too. 

Let’s just accept that we all need to do what works for us, not what someone else posted on social media. Why would it matter if your neighbor doesn’t follow a strict schedule for her kids? It’s not harming you. Judging her, whether to her face or behind her back, is a terrible tool to make yourself feel better, to justify your own choice that, by the way, is probably a horrible choice for someone else. Can’t we all just do an old-fashioned eye roll and move on with our own lives? 

For some reason, judgy gossip seems to make some of us feel good. Maybe it’s because it justifies our own choices. Do we feel better if we think our way is the best way? Now we’re just judging ourselves! We are letting someone else’s opinion dictate how we feel. So now it’s twofold. I say “we” because I am just as guilty of it as you are. 

Fiction: Lying on the couch scrolling through Instagram and seeing someone’s quarantine craft project of eco-friendly lunchboxes made out of wild mushrooms and a ball of twine means you are a failure for using your self-isolation to watch “Tiger King” (Carole totally did it, you know).

Fact: Someone else’s success doesn’t mean there’s not enough room for yours. Reread that sentence.

Quit judging other moms’ choices that work for them, AND quit worrying about what other moms think of you.  

As the inimitable Cady Heron says towards the end of “Mean Girls,” calling someone stupid doesn’t make you smarter. So when it comes to dealing with self-quarantine and school at home, how about we mind our own beeswax and do what works for us, with confidence, and stop worrying that someone else thinks it’s a bad call? It’s your call. Own your call. 

I hope you’ll join me in looking forward to when we can get back to basics and judge each other for what really matters: what we’re wearing.

Amy Fenster Brown is married to Jeff and has two teenage sons, Davis and Leo. She volunteers for several Jewish not-for-profit groups. Fenster Brown is an Emmy Award-winning TV news writer and counts time with family and friends, talking and eating peanut butter among her hobbies.  Email Amy [email protected]