Motherhood is hard and mom stereotypes are a reality we have to deal with.
Motherhood is hard on it’s own.
Motherhood is hard. That’s the understatement of a lifetime.
Everyone knows motherhood is hard. You ask any person on this planet if they agree with that statement and they’ll vehemently nod their heads, “Oh yeah!” And yet, these same people seem to be OK with making comments about mom stereotypes.
For the moms who didn’t have kids until their 30s, “Aren’t you worried about being older?”
For the adoptive moms, “ Did her real parents not want her?”
For the working moms, “I don’t know how you do it!”
For the teen or young moms, “Life is going to be so hard for you.”
For the moms with a lot of kids (3 or more), “But you’re done, right?”
For the moms with only one gender, “You’re going to try for the [insert gender here]?”
For the stay-at-home moms, “What are you teaching your children by staying home?”
For the single moms, “My guy does everything for me. I don’t see how you do it!”
For the gay mama, “But does she have a dad?”
While some of these are meant to appear as compliments, they’re really not.
They undermine the hard work the mom goes through, or they undermine the dad’s input, or they completely dismiss trauma that could have occurred to put the mom through that.
All we know for sure is that motherhood is hard.
But it’s also incredibly rewarding. It’s like a rollercoaster with ups and downs and sometimes the downs come so fast and so low you throw up, but sometimes the ups are slow and you can see things more clearly. One this is for, it’s an exciting ride, and no one should have to explain themselves or put up with unnecessary comments.
Breaking free from stereotypes
Instead of saying what most moms hear, try the following:
For the moms who didn’t have kids until their 30s, “Congratulations, Mama! Welcome to the flock!”
For the adoptive moms, “Congratulations, Mama! Welcome to the flock!”
For the working moms, “Congratulations, Mama! Welcome to the flock!”
For the teen or young moms, “Congratulations, Mama! Welcome to the flock!”
For the moms with a lot of kids (3 or more), “Congratulations, Mama! Welcome to the flock!”
For the moms with only one gender, “Congratulations, Mama! Welcome to the flock!”
For the stay-at-home moms, “Congratulations, Mama! Welcome to the flock!”
For the single moms, “Congratulations, Mama! Welcome to the flock!”
And if you’re not a parent then a simple, “Congratulations, Mama!” is enough.
Supportive, not destructive
Humor aside — even though these are great responses to any mom situation — there are many ways you can support a mom no matter her life situation.
Think about what you’re about to say before you say it. If you’re not sure if something is appropriate, err on the side of caution and don’t say it.
Always treat moms with respect, even if you don’t agree with them. Remember that they are people too, and they deserve to be treated with kindness and dignity.
Be mindful of who you’re talking to when you’re around moms. If you’re talking to a mom who is a stranger, it’s best to avoid saying anything that could be considered inappropriate.
If you know that a mom is going through a difficult time, be extra careful about what you say to her. She may be more sensitive than usual, and she may not appreciate jokes or comments that she would normally find funny.
Apologize if you say something inappropriate. If you do say something inappropriate to a mom, apologize immediately. Let her know that you didn’t mean to offend her and that you’re sorry for your words.
At the end of the day, it’s not about not being able to speak, it’s about recognizing that stating any form of judgemental statement to a stranger or someone you’re just meeting isn’t the best look. Yes, stereotypes are there because it’s a general consensus on what to expect, but doesn’t mean you should pass judgment on people you don’t know. A lot of these statements can be held for people you know well. For example, I’m sure that the mom with the age gap wouldn’t mind sharing her story with her friends. Maybe she had many failed pregnancies and finally decided on in-vitro. That’s something to reserve for close family and friends. But could you imagine this mom sharing that with a stranger on their first meeting?
Let’s all sit in a circle of kumbaya for a moment and recognize that motherhood is hard and that every mother, no matter their situation is a unicorn and should be revered and treated like the mythical goddess that she is.