Mom shaming. It happens. We all know it’s not possible to get through parenthood without making a mistake, but thanks to our world of Instagram and Snapchats, there’s a chance our weak moment will be seen by a stranger who will then spread it around like hypercritical wildfire. It seems we love nothing more than to grasp at other people’s mistakes so we can forget our own and feel better about ourselves.
And when it comes to judging other mothers for their decisions we disagree with, or the mistakes we saw them make, I’m sick of it. I’m sick of jumping to conclusions about a woman or situation we don’t know anything about. It’s got to stop. Because we can literally never know the full story, the full experience, especially if we remain judgmental and critical.
Here’s a great example:
From our perspective, and from the rude stranger who had no right to photograph this moment and share it online, it looks like the mother is neglecting her infant on the ground to (presumably) scroll Facebook. The photo of Molly Lensing, a mother of three, went viral last year and she received thousands of horribly rude comments and messages. It’s easy to get ourselves worked up on the Internet and band together—we call it “mob mentality.” We attack when all we have is an out of context picture.
What people didn’t realize as this circulated was Molly had been stuck in the airport for 20 hours during the Delta computer shut-down with her baby while flight after flight got cancelled or delayed. This is a particular form of hell on earth, people! This poor mom had been carrying her baby all day but anyone who knows even a speck about babies will realize that they can get restless, squirmy, and “touched out.” A moment on the floor, on a blanket, out of harms way, in perfect view and closeness to mom is not a terrible thing. And Lensing set the record straight, explaining she had been trying to reach family to inform them of her travel changes, not idly scrolling social media. The picture alone, with the rude caption, was not accurate.
This example shows that we are too eager to judge one another when we have no way of knowing the full story to be accurate in our conclusions. We weren’t there personally. We don’t know what the offender was thinking, experiencing, facing, or intending. Shouldn’t we just stop making assumptions, expecting the worst from people? In Molly’s case, wouldn’t it have been kinder to give the benefit of the doubt, realizing that maybe she had just set the baby down when this picture was taken? When we have no context for a situation, we have no way of judging it appropriately.
After Molly set the record straight, explaining what had really been happening that day, everyone who had judged her so harshly went running with their tails between their legs. How dumb would you feel if you had been so outspoken against her, to later find out you would’ve probably done the exact same thing if it had been you? Now, her story is gaining thousands of positive and supportive responses. This could’ve been the kind of reaction to begin with if more people were just a little kinder, choosing empathy instead of indignation.
And if there is proof of a serious wrongdoing, why comment at all? Why not mind our own business when it doesn’t directly affect us? Why choose to stop and add more hate to the fire?
If nothing else, since we can’t always know everything in order to be accurate, follow the old saying, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all!”