Ladies, I am completely loving the entire woman empowering, survivor believing, standing strong together wave that we have been riding high on for awhile now. It seems like a long time coming, doesn’t it? It truly gives me hope and fills me with a sense of pride to be raising a strong and kick ass baby girl. It is my sincere hope that my daughter be an outspoken supporter and truthfully that my son is as well. There is one thing that has been weighing a little heavy on me though, I have noticed that while we are participating in so much woman empowering Moms are often not included.
Sometimes it seems that when we become mothers we become two different people, a woman as one and a mother the other. While we as women often feel like the only side that is visible is the mom side we try our hardest to still show the world, our children and most importantly ourselves who we were before they came along. While there has been an uproar in banning body shaming, slut shaming, and victim shaming, why does mom shaming not make the list? It is often difficult and disheartening to hear it from other mothers, but I have to be honest with you it is often frustrating and at times infuriating to get it from people who aren’t parents. I have always said, I was a much better parent, when I didn’t have children.
My family is preparing to make a trip out of the country this week and while I have a lot to pack before the trip, I am most anxious about the flight. Yes, I want to make sure that my babies are as comfortable as possible but my biggest stress is other people. Where the mom shaming ties in to all of this is my recent interaction on a Girls Love Travel board post. Now let me say that I think this site is an excellent resource and I have seen women from literally all over the world ban together to help a girl they don’t know traveling alone abroad who felt uncomfortable with how they were being treated by a man in a hostel. A woman on the site tagged another who was close by, and in a very short period of time that girl was picked up in a taxi by another member and safe! THAT is GIRL POWER. inspiring right? They also have rules in place that they call #GTLKindness which is so great in theory, but mom shaming is excluded from this “kindness” why?
I didn’t really follow the board much anymore but I did happen to catch a post written by a woman who clearly had no children going on and on about the huge inconvenience of having to sit next to a 5 year old, and the real kicker, it was solely because the parents wanted the “luxury” of extra leg space and didn’t want to be bothered with their child. Now, I can not speak for all parents but I have never met a parent that would leave their baby unsupervised with a completely random stranger for an unspecified amount of time for their own luxury and comfort. I was really upset by this post because I have seen so many like it. So I did what I usually don’t and commented. I truly had to, I felt and still do! that this was something worth speaking up. I did give a disclaimer and my comment went a little something like this, ‘ I don’t usually comment but this one made my blood boil a little. Moming is HARD and when traveling with babies we are STRESSED. We see the eye rolls, we hear the loud exhales as we are walking down the plane aisle. I promise we are doing everything in our power to keep our children entertained and quiet. BUT at the end of the end of the day they are KIDS they don’t know any better, you should! Also! unless the parents explicitly told you that they weren’t seated next to one of their children for their own “luxury” you should shut the F up (I didn’t actually write the word) and stop assuming and shaming the parents. You do not know their circumstance or reasoning and it is not ok to publicly assume. Parents and our children are people too and we have as much of a right to be on that plane as you do. Next time you should consider charting a private plane so you don’t need to be bothered with other travelers.’ A bit harsh? Maybe. But I stood by it then and I absolutely stand by it now. Her post seemed obnoxious, entitled and not even remotely kind or considerate to people with children. Like I stated in the comment, WE GET IT. You don’t want to sit next to us or our babies on a flight. I cringe the whole way to my seat and try not to make eye contact. I have an entire carry on devoted to making sure they are quiet and entertained, and someone who doesn’t know a parents circumstance goes on and on about HER inconvenience.
My comment was met with many “likes” I’m assuming from other mothers who felt the exact same way, and some who touted that it is not anyone else’s responsibility to babysit your children on a flight, a comment that I agree with. It was also tagged with a #GTLKindness from a moderator. Imagine that? I am the one being unkind! I quickly responded that I didn’t think this mom shaming post was at all kind, and I hoped she was speaking in general as a reminder to all. I also have to note that I had seen several comments from various mothers noting that the site has become such a mom shaming hub, and that we should be considerate of parents as well. I was in the midst of explaining why we shouldn’t mom shame and while I would feel uncomfortable not having my children next to me at any time, but especially during flight, I am not going to pretend to know anyone else’s circumstances. It did not take me long to write the response, but I did not want to come off as ‘angry’ a term given to firm and outspoken women, and make sure that I hit every point. As I hit post, I realized that my post had been deleted. No warning, or anything other than the #GTLKindness that had been posted before which I had already responded to. No other negative word had been spoken by me and I didn’t even have a chance to respond, before being completely silenced. What was still standing strong? that mom shaming post. What does that say about woman empowerment? What does that say about where mothers stand on the ‘woman’ spectrum? Needless to say I immediately left this group extremely disheartened with the moderators and the female empowerment they say they stand for.
This post is not to shame or to call out only Girls Love Travel. It is so much bigger than that. This is not the only avenue in which I’ve seen people, places, and sites that scream woman empowerment stop short of extending that empowerment, kindness and consideration to mothers. We’ve got to do better as women. Just as we empower and support ALL women, don’t forget that behind the diaper bags, and food spit up stains, the dark circles under our eyes and children in our arms, stands a woman. We are worth empowering too.