• Sat, Nov 9 - 10:00 am ET

5 Ways I’ve Been ‘Mommy-Shamed’ By Other Mothers

Whether it’s due to the overwhelming pressure to “have it all” put on us by society, or something else, the tendency to shame other mothers is something I see a lot. Every. Single. Day. I’m sensitive to it, as I’m sure all of you are, and honestly…it sucks.

Personally, I think part of the problem is that when we someone whose parenting style or methods differ from our own, we fail to see this as simple variety of life. No, instead we see this as an indictment on our own choices, and for some mothers, that just won’t do. So instead of looking at things with an open mind, we see then in black and white; if what *I* do is “right,” then what *you* do must be “wrong.”

It isn’t always about parenting choices, however. Many of us have these ingrained ideas about what women, and mothers specifically, should do. Don’t be a slut, but you can’t be a prude either. Don’t be too loud, but if you’re quiet, then you’re a stuck up bitch. It seems like no matter what the eff we’re doing, it’s fucking WRONG to someone. Below are the most common ways I’ve been shamed by other mothers. I’m sure your milage may vary.

1. Don’t be a slut, you slutty McSlut-Slut

mommy shame

I think this one is pretty universal. There is nothing society hates more than a slutty mom. Which is hilarious to me, because we all got here somehow, and for most of us it was through sexy, sexy boning. You don’t even have to sleep around to get shamed for this. Remember Peg Bundy from Married With Children, and the running gag about how horny she was? Silly Peggy! You can’t want sex with your husband, you’re a MOM. You whore.

2. But you can’t be a frigid bitch, either! 

mommy shame

There are two sides to the slut-coin when it comes to mommy shame, however. It’s just as important not to be a frigid, sex-hating harpy as it is to not be a slut. I was shocked when I became a mom and I realized how often this type of shaming would come from other mothers. If your partner cheats, it’s often not seen as his fault. Nope, it’s your fault, for not being more of a lady in the streets and a freak in the bed (or whatever). I think it comes from the desire to think “This can’t possibly happen to me.” Hate to break it to you, but if your man (or woman) is going to cheat, they’re gonna cheat. Doesn’t matter if you have sex once a month or once an hour. Some partners are just douchebags.

3. You can’t have fun, you’re a MOM

mommy shameWhen my oldest child was a baby, I worked constantly. Between being the main breadwinner, putting myself through school,  and spending time with my husband and baby, I had very little free time. Occasionally I would go out with my girlfriends to partake in some adult beverages (as one is wont to do). It never failed, one person, at some point would say the magic words,” Don’t you want to be home with YOUR BABY?” It was like once I popped a kid out, I ceased to be a living, breathing woman with the need to let my hair down. NO, I was a MOM.

4. You had a BABY not a Volkswagen, you fatty! 

mommy shame

This one ties into the whore/frigid issue in that as women, we’re expected to be ornamental and sexually attractive. At. All. TIMES. Failing to do so seems to break some kind of unspoken social contract, and surprisingly, plenty of other mothers are willing to let you know when you’ve broken it. My sister in law (whom I am no longer speaking to) LOVED to let me know she thought I was a fatty McFaterson. Never straight out, of course, but by trying to push diet products down my throat all the time. No, I won’t buy your friend’s ViSlim shakes, and yes, I do know what you’re doing. Bitch.

5. Being a mom is THE MOST IMPORTANT JOB (but not a “real” job, silly!)

mommy shame

Don’t get me wrong here, parenting IS important. And I fully support any woman’s (or man’s) choice to be a stay at home parent, or a working parent, or whatever. The point is that no matter what freaking choice you make, there will be other moms in the peanut gallery judging the ever loving crap out of you. Your kid is in daycare? You must HATE being a mom! You’re a SAHM? You lazy cow! We just can’t win.

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  • Julia Sonenshein

    Although I have yet to pop out a child and be shamed for that in all of these ways, you are SO spot on about people seeing different choices from their own as an indictment of their choices. For fuck’s sake.

    • SarahJesness

      Yeah. There’s this idea that if you don’t raise a kid the exact right way, s/he’s going to grow up to be a screw-up. So people have this extra need to validate their child-rearing choices, to the point where they have to trash other options, because to them, there are no other options.

  • That_Darn_Kat

    I have 2 kids, they have 2 different fathers. Is that how I envisioned my life? No, of course not, but I love my kids, and my daughter loves my husband (her step-dad). I get all kinds of judged when people find out my husband isn’t the father of both my kids.

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      I have three kids and my oldest has a different dad. I had someone I thought was a good friend make comments about my “baby daddy,” and how I had kids by two different men. I think it was more about her wanting to feel superior than about me, but it still stung.

    • C.J.

      Whoever invented the term “baby daddy” needs to be slapped upside the head. I don’t know why I find that phrase so offensive, both my children are my husband’s. It just sounds so disrespectful. I have many friends who’s children have different father’s, I would never say that to them. They are wonderful mothers, who fathered their children doesn’t change that.

    • Kelby Johnson

      My two kids have two different fathers as well. My husband (The youngest’s father) has been with us since my oldest was 2 though, so he’s ‘dad’ to both of them. I’ve found the worst looks come from teachers because my last name and my son’s last name are different.

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      I get this too. I have two girls right now in the same school and we ALL have different last names (I kept my last name, and my daughters each have their dad’s names). Oh the looks I get. AND they’re in a Catholic school to boot.

    • That_Darn_Kat

      When my daughter was about 8 months old, I went on a trip and had to pass through the Canadian border. I had all our paperwork in hand, including a notarized letter from her dad stating it was okay with him that she travel out of country. When the Border Patrol saw that I didn’t have the same name as her, despite everything I had matching her birth certificate (before Passports were required), they freaked the F out, dragged us inside, and made us call her dad because they were sure I was kidnapping her. All because my last name didn’t match hers.

    • Andrea

      Officially, my name isn’t the same as my kids. Yet I am married (was married before they were born) to their father. This really pisses me off because….what the fuck. Some women don’t change their names you imbeciles!!!!

  • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

    Ugh see, I read this, and it is FUNNY, Frances YOU ARE funny, but ugh, this whole thing made me so damn sad because it’s all so true. ALL of it. And no matter what any of us do, we are wrong in some way for doing it.

    At least my kids like me :(

    • Tinyfaeri

      We like you!

    • Emmali Lucia

      For now…

      Lol just kidding. You’re awesome and your kids will always love you. :D

  • keelhaulrose

    My husband and my girls don’t look much alike at first glance, he’s half native American, so he’s got darker skin and black hair, my girls are porcelain skinned and one’s even a redhead. Look closer and you’ll see their daddy in them, but most people see us together and make assumptions, and the slut shaming look happens.

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

      This is just because you keep wearing your street lingerie in public even though we told you that isn’t a good idea.

    • keelhaulrose

      Lol.
      I try not to show stuff in public, but because I have a thirty pound weight that uses my shirts to keep herself from toppling over when she’s doing back-bends even my turtleneck necklines are down to my waist.

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

      …. slut. Turtleneck slut! :)

    • SusannahJoy

      lol, I’ve given up on the idea that my bras are supposed to be private, and just taken to wearing cute bras all the time.

    • Tinyfaeri

      no, no, I saw something in Shine that said slip dresses are back in.

    • phoenix81

      This happens to me too! My husband has dark brown hair and eyes, I have light brown hair and hazel eyes. Our son is a blue eyed blonde. People always give us “the look” or crack jokes about the mailman, and I feel the need to yell out “He’s half Dutch people, c’mon!!!”.

    • CraftLass

      That is so ridiculous. I mean, seriously, not only do a lot of kids not look just like either parent, but what if they were adopted? Rude.

      I used to preemptively tell people I was adopted before those questions got rolling because I hated those questions so much. I started that around age 5. Why should a 5 year old have to explain her parentage to anyone?

    • Rachel Sea

      I had a middle school science teacher basically tell me that my mom must be a cheating whore, because it’s not possible for two green-eyed people to have a brown eyed child.

  • Alicia Kiner

    My husband and I got married after both of our children were born. They are both his, but when people find out, that’s their first question. Are they both his? I’m always shocked first that people have the balls to ask, but then that they’d even think to. Then there was the woman who saw me shopping for baby supplies when I was pregnant with my son and walked right up to me and said ‘You should be focused on your studies, not worried about boys. What kind of life will you give that baby?’ She thought I was in high school. I told her that I was 22, had a full time job, a place of my own, and that I may not give him the high life with private school educations, but he’d have a good one. So far, I’m living up to that. People need to worry about their own kids and lives and stop worrying about others unless there is obvious danger.

    • http://twitter.com/mariaguido Maria Guido

      Ew. That is so annoying. Like it’s anyone’s freaking business to begin with. People can be so gross.

    • AP

      I was 27 when I got married. I’m 29 now. I *still* have people telling me I’m too young to be married, that I should be “out having fun,” and that I’m prematurely old.

      I don’t get it…what am I supposed to be waiting for?

    • Elisa Probert

      I was 33 when I got married…had people implying it was “too early.” Same people were saying I should have a baby by now. Wait, what?? LOL

    • SusannahJoy

      I got married when I was 29 and was told that I need to have babies ASAP cuz I’m clearly way too old for children.

    • Kelby Johnson

      This. When I was pregnant with my oldest, I was 20 but I looked 16. I was waiting tables and let me tell ya, the judgiest people always got seated in my section! It amazed me at the things people would say to me… “Oh you poor thing” “Do you even know the baby’s father?” “Sit down, let me pray for you”

    • Alicia Kiner

      OMG, do you even know? What on earth would possess people to think it’s okay to verbalize that?! I’m afraid I would have spilled their drink over their heads for that one.

    • Kelly

      I had a woman tell me off when I was pregnant with my son too. She thought I was 13. I was 20, married and a soldier. Boy was her face red.

  • http://twitter.com/mariaguido Maria Guido

    This is sadly SO right on.

  • KB

    UGH, yes to all of these. Especially the madonna/whore conundrum. Guess what pearl-clutchers? It’s possible to be a mother and a sexual being simultaneously….shock! awe!

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      Right? How the hell do these people think we all got here?

    • Rachel Sea

      If you’re supposed to close your legs when you become a mother, then where do siblings come from?

    • CraftLass

      And the same people who act like a woman must no longer want sex because, you know, kids, also harass the same woman about when she’ll have another kid. Where’s the kid supposed to come from? The stork?

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      The Vagina Fairy

    • CraftLass

      You just made my day. Made. My. Day. :-D Oh, the images in my head right now!!!!

    • Rachel Sea

      I’m totally crafting a Vagina Fairy ornament for the Hannukah Bush.

  • Aimee Beff

    Every day of being a female-identified person is an invitation to get judged by anybody and everybody and it is a steaming pile of bullshit. Don’t enjoy ‘girly’ things like knitting or soap operas, you twit! Wear makeup and paint your nails, you ugly thing! If you don’t get a raise at work it’s your own fault for not being assertive enough! Sit down and shut up, no one likes a bossy bitch! You have a career, don’t you care about your kids? Maybe you’d get paid as much as a man for the same work if you didn’t spend so much time caring for your kids! You really should spend more time around your children if you actually love them! Gosh, since you had kids you’re so boring now, why don’t you ever come out and party with us! What kind of a wife doesn’t cook for her husband? What kind of a feminist cooks for her boyfriend, are you some kind of Stepford wife wannabe?

    I vote we all quit the patriarchy and move to an island. I’ll make margaritas.

    • Mai

      I find it interesting you want to “quit the patriarchy” replying to an article about women judging other women…

    • Aimee Beff

      In my experience, women judge and put down other women to assert their place as a Good Woman or as One of the Guys, Not Like Those Stupid Bimbos – jockeying for position as an acceptable form of ladyperson of one sort or the other.

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      I will bring the wine, Eve will bring the SNAX.

    • SusannahJoy

      I’ll bring wine too, cuz we’re still in 3 wine clubs, even though it costs about $50-150 dollars to ship wine to us. And home-brew. Because sometimes I want a nice smooth pinot noir, and sometimes I want a nice hoppy IPA.

    • Tinyfaeri

      I’m in. I’ve seen enough Man Vs Wild to make a proper lean-to, and I think I have a lobster trap around here somewhere…

    • Elisa Probert

      Can I come to the island even if I’m not a mom? Being a woman with some semblance of a life is a lot of freakin’ work!

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      Everyone who doesn’t suck is welcome!

    • Emmali Lucia

      I love you. I was just drunkenly screaming about this to a really good friend of mine on Thursday.

    • Kelly

      In fairness, men get judged too. My husband doesn’t drink and doesn’t like watching sports. The fucked up things I’ve heard people say to him over those two things…

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      It’s funny, I’ve been trying to get my husband to pitch a “Daddy Shame” article to Eve. You’re absolutely right, fathers (and men in general) aren’t immune for the shame game. People suck in general sometimes I guess.

    • gothicgaelicgirl

      yup, the amount of negativity aimed towards men is unreal. my partner has three small kids, aged 13, 9 and 8. I am 13 years his junior. He gets some horrendous comments thrown at him for us being together (never me).
      He’s a “cradle-snatcher”, “pedophile” “having a mid-life crisis” “selfish for trapping me”
      or my personal favourite “you just wanted to bang a 20-something year old”
      apparently you cannot truly love someone a lot younger than you…
      to top that off, he has multiple tattoos, y’know, on account of tattoo artist being his JOB, and he gets told constantly that he is shaming his children, that he is limiting their futures by how he looks, that he doesn’t deserve them, they should be taken away from him.
      I’ve gotten that too. Once people realised I had three small wonderful children in my life I got the “O you’ll have to stop getting piercings, or wearing fishnet or wearing your military boots”

      In short, despite the fact I didn’t birth these children, they mean no less to me- but I cannot be me.

      I’ve had people come up to me when I’ve been out with the little girls and tell me I look unsuitable to be a mother, and ask my girls are they not embarrassed (wouldn’t mind but I was only wearing a purple dress with skulls and Docs!)
      Which is when the girls inform them I’m their WSM (Wicked StepMother) and I’m “cool”. (yay)

      Because you have to dress in a hoody and leggings and never shower in order to look like a proper parent. (And seemingly because I am “ONLY” a Step-parent, I do not qualify as a parent)

    • Shelly Lloyd

      The funny thing about knitting being a woman’s hobby is that the early guilds of knitters was men only. It was seen as men’s only textile industry.

  • Elisa Probert

    If you don’t have kids yet you get, “Have a baby, RIGHT NOW!!!” But if you have a baby, then it was too soon and you should have waited. *headdesk*

    Ooooh, and you have to have a dog for the children, but if you have a dog before you have children you apparently have to gt rid of THAT dog, because it’s used or something.

    Tommy Lee Jones got it right in “Men In Black,” “A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals and you know it.”

    • lea

      OMG yes with the dog thing. One of the first things someone at work said to me when I announced I was pregnant with my son was “what will you do about your dog?”. Urrr what?
      Continue to love and care for her?

    • C.J.

      I didn’t have a dog until after my kids were born but had someone ask me what I was going to do with my cats when I was pregnant with my first.

    • staferny

      Don’t you know that the cats will smell the milk on the baby’s breath and lay on its face and smother it in the crib… wtf? *eyeroll

    • C.J.

      Yep, heard that one, and what if the cat scratches the baby or the baby is allergic.

  • rrlo

    At this point the only choice we have is to refrain from judging other women (even those that kinda deserve it) and not give a f*ck about what others are saying about us. It’s hard to do but definitely possible…if we try really, really hard. And with time society will catch up and leave us alone! Also, check out this cool speech by Joss Wedon to cheer yourself up:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/11/08/joss-whedon-feminist_n_4240214.html

  • Kelby Johnson

    I’m trying my hardest to teach my daughter to be the best woman she can be when she gets older and prepare her for the judgment that comes simply because she was born with a vagina. It’s not fair at all and something needs to change! Just because we are women doesn’t mean we aren’t worth our weight in gold!!!

  • Blueathena623

    Frances, love, how could you miss the big one that I see everywhere? If you don’t accept help from others (childcare, chores, whatever) you’re an uptight, anal-retentive, smothering helicopter parent, but if you accept too much help (whatever “too much” is) you’re lazy and a bad mother and why did you even have kids if they are just going to spend the night with their grandparents so much?

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      Oh, I am already planning a part two, lol. There were WAY too many for just one post. This might even be a three parter!

    • iz

      I can’t wait! The supply of comments is endless, trust me. And about being a lazy mom – I have lots of help from my parents, so yes, I’m a lazy (single, working) mom. On some days I have a good comeback, other days I’m just dumbstruck by people’s ignorance. Is this their back-assward way of “reaching out”?

  • Rachelxoxo

    There’s another side to the fat shaming too, the mom that is fit and healthy gets shamed because, “obviously you don’t spend enough time with your kids if you are able to put on some makeup and go to the gym every once in awhile.” Really annoying….I love my son and spend 24 freaking hrs a day with him, just because I enjoy getting dressed and looking/feeling nice doesn’t mean I’m ignoring my son! To some women you’re not being a ‘real’ mom unless you look like crap and give up every aspect of your life for your offspring lol.

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      Yup! I touched on this a while back actually. I recently lost a good bit of weight after being taken off a medication that made me gain a ton of it, and I got this side of it too. “Oh, it must be nice to have time to lose weight, I would but I spend too much time with my kids.” WTF is that supposed to mean? Especially since I didn’t really do anything to lose the weight.

      I had a woman say something similar when commenting on a red lipstick I was wearing. “Oh, I used to wear stuff like that, but then I had kids and had to settle down. I don’t think it’s appropriate.” I was like UM, WUT?

    • Rachel Sea

      Oh didn’t you get the mom-palette when you gave birth? You probably didn’t go to the good hospital or you would have gotten the handout.

  • Stacey

    I once got judged hard at the dog park for answering my cell phone while my dog was running around playing. I immediately thought, “Oh my God. This isn’t even a kid. It can only get worse from here.” Now that I have a baby? Bring on the Mommy Shamers. I’m already so over that shit.

  • Simone

    I was so relieved when both my pregnancies resulted in boys. I just couldn’t face having to gradually teach a daughter the entire history of western feminism. With boys I can probably get away with an abridged version. I’ll have so much more leisure time.

  • Yves

    I’m 35 weeks pregnant and last week posted something on FB about can’t wait to drink wine again. Lol this one lady, who I don’t even know well made a comment about oh don’t forget you still can’t since you’ll be breastfeeding. *_* Welcome to 2013… yes, you can drink occasionally AND your child can still eat. I already went almost a year without my wine, once he’s out of my body it’s back on the table!! I told her the wet nurse would be handling all that lol because I just couldn’t deal with her.

  • Yves

    My hubby is going to be the stay-at-home dad once our son gets here. You cannot imagine the judgement he already gets. Way worse than any woman. He is already viewed as lazy and something is wrong with him. Men are supposed to have no choice – they MUST work. And if they don’t then they are losers. Only the mother has the option to stay home with baby. That is what society seems to think!

    • Kelly

      Yep. My husband did a year as the stay at home. I actually had two women (on separate occasions) give me disgusted looks and ask, “What’s wrong with him?” when they found out.

    • Sarah

      Yeah, my husband stays home with our girls, and I couldn’t believe some of the comments I got. It seems to be getting better though. Maybe it’s becoming more socially acceptable….?

  • Paul White

    On the Married with Kids, it worked because it reversed the current stereotypes of the male wanting sex sex sex with a woman that just kind of suffered through it.

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      Very true. But I like to mention Peggy whenever and wherever possible.

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