Thursday, 14 June 2018

Equal Opportunity Mom Shaming

Last October, I had an incident with a Mom at Kate’s gymnastics class, who I felt Mom shamed me a little bit. I started to write a post about it, got half way though it, became too busy to finish, then wasn’t sure how I wanted to conclude it. I resurrected part of it into a new post, which is still in progress and I really intend to complete. Basically, the mom was critical of the crackers I brought for Kate’s snack. I spend most of the class gathering evidence to validate my hypothesis that she is a bitch, but it sent me into a spiral of harsh self criticism. The next week, Kate dropped the F-bomb on the way to class and I was finally able to laugh off her judgement. If she though I was a bad mother due to my snack selection, just wait until she heard my daughter’s potty mouth!

Fast forward to Memorial Day weekend. Kate and I went to the Farmer’s Market and to Tar.get. Then we had lunch at Chip.olte and I needed to make an additional trip to the Container Store to find a hamper as I didn’t find one I liked in Tar.get. As we were dragging the hamper back to my car, I sensed she was starting to fade. As she slept later that morning, I was hoping I could push her nap out a little bit, but now I was getting close to the danger zone. I really wanted to hit the sales at Old Navy and the G.ap and I had hoped that her lunch would fuel her for a while, but I could tell we would need reinforcement. So I bribed her to do a little more shopping with the promise of a frosted cookie. Ideally, I would have offered the cookie after she had exhibited good behavior at the stores, but logistically we passed the bakery before the stores. We had to queue for over half an hour, because yes you have to stand in line behind people ordering sandwiches, even if you just want baked goods.

We finally emerged from the bakery, cookie in hand, and I tried to steer her into G.ap, hoping that with busy holiday shoppers, employees wouldn’t notice a little girl eating a cookie in their store. Kate insisted that we eat outside. It was a beautiful day, the first warm day in quite a while, so I decided to follow her lead and take the time to slow down and just enjoy some time with my daughter. Kate was trying to eat her cookie as carefully as possible, but the icing was melting quickly and was getting all over her face. I was waiting until she was finished before wiping her face and hands. Just then, a couple in their mid 60s came walking toward us. The guy was wearing an Old.Navy shirt celebrating the turn of the century in 2000. As he passes us, he commented “Can’t get enough candy” in a gruff tone. He never made eye contact or smiled in my direction, so I’m pretty sure it was a remark to his wife and not to me.

I really wanted to react. I wanted to explain that the cookie was a special treat. That I don’t buy cookies, candies or any sweets to have at home. Yesterday at a friend’s birthday party, I was the mean mom who didn’t let her keep the candy she collected from the piñata. I no longer give her peanut butter crackers and she just licks the peanut butter and discards the crackers. Recently, she grabbed her snack bag and opted to eat her fruit first over her rice crackers and granola bar.  She takes swimming lessons, gymnastics and soccer classes, oh and by the way she was doing burpees with me at the gym this morning.

But I didn’t say anything. When I recounted the story to a friend the next day, I explained that there were a lot of people with smart phones and I feared they could start recording and then next thing you know, I’d be showing up in your feed “Angry Mom goes off on stranger over cookie” as we’d go viral. That was my outward explanation. The truth is that I didn’t have the nerve, because he hit a nerve. Seriously, did he have any idea how much Mom Guilt went into the decision to buy the cookie? “What message am I sending by bribing her with food?” “She’s not a dog, I shouldn’t use food as a reward” Does he think I’m not aware of her size and weight? Which by the way is a concern between me and her pediatrician. Am I not mortified by the fact that I’m needing to buy 4T pants for my not-yet three year old daughter and they look ridiculous as they’re bunched at the ankles and she still has a plumbers crack!
Just as I did with the gymnastics mom, I quickly moved into he phase of discrediting the source. He was wearing a shirt from the turn of the century. Seriously, his shirt is almost old enough to vote now. Plus, he had a gut that shows that apparently he can’t get enough candy either. Fuck you. Yet, I couldn’t quite move on passed the ‘why am I letting this bother me so much?’ phase. Then it dawned on me, it’s a new day of equal opportunity shaming. Usually mom shamers are other moms who think they have everything figured out or idealistic women without children who are imaging their own reality. Now apparently, elderly white dudes can get in the game. The gender disparity really stings, as comedian Ali Wong points out “there is so little that a man needs to do to be hailed as a great dad, and so little for a woman to do to be branded as a shit mother.”

Please note, I’m not trying to come across as the Thought Police. Think what ever you want; just keep it to yourself or at least wait until I’m out of earshot. I confess I’ve held some shaming thoughts about my cousins’ parenting. I don’t think she’s a bad parent. I know she loves her kids and wants to do what is best, but has made some bad decisions. I just don’t share thought thoughts with her; I wait until we get home and then discuss my observations with Husband. An open mind does not require an open mouth. Especially since that’s the real response to the shamers. Guess what? You can save your breath. There is nothing you can say to a mother that is harsher, meaner or more critical than anything she has already said about herself. Probably in the last five minutes. Now shut the fuck up.

My day was further aggravated by the fact that I couldn’t find my parking ticket and had to pay the $25 lost ticket fee (when I had qualified for free parking). When I arrived at home, I easily found the ticket in my purse. #momfail

I finished writing this post and hit some button that accidentally erased it and I had to compose it again. #momfailagain.


  1. Sorry those remarks stressed you out. It’s hard when you want so hard to do the right thing! Honestly I think as long as sweets are a treat and not what the child eats for breakfast lunch and dinner there’s nothing wrong with them. Who doesn’t like a cookie every now and then? Ok some people don’t, but most do and cookies bring happiness.

    I have a goldfish stash but I save them for the times I need to motivate AJ just a little the walk home from the playground or the trek back to the car after the zoo. If she’s hungry I will give her something healthy.

    I think it’s important to look at the bigger picture and see what you are teaching overall about food. We have family dinners, we eat pretty healthy and AJ is very active so I don’t worry about goldfish or a cookie here and there.

  2. I think you are doing a fantastic job! Your child is loved, fed and well taken care of clearly. Those are the most important things :)

  3. F that guy and F that mom in gym class. People honestly need to keep their thoughts to themselves. If they can't, we need to be better about not giving a F about what they say. We have a bag of goldfish in our pantry closet right now. Do my kids get it everyday? Of course not. But I also don't worry too much about when I do allow treats for the kids because they get plenty of fruit, veggies, and healthy meals at home. Everything in moderation. You are doing great!

  4. Oh gosh, major props to you for rewriting this thing after losing it all. I probably would have cried and ate a cookie. Seriously though, what the hell? I'm curious about this Goldfish cracker thing, because I can't believe there are women out there that would say something to you about that. I totally get the Mom Guilt and dude, I don't know what I would do if I heard a comment like that old man's.