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"The school parking lot" by Courtney Vallejo (CatholicMom.com) Copyright 2018 Courtney Vallejo. All rights reserved.[/caption] How many of you have heard of mom-shaming? The first few times that I heard people use this phrase, I was confused. Are you shaming a mom? Is the mom shaming someone? Why are those two words together, and is that a verb or a noun? I decided to Google the phrase to see what would come up. The Urban Dictionary came up on the search and since this seems like a trendy word, I decided to click on their description. The Urban Dictionary definition is, “criticizing or degrading a mother for her parenting choices because they differ from the choices the shamer would make.”  The example given is, “This woman is mom-shaming me for not breastfeeding my daughter.” So it got me thinking about the words criticizing and degrading. Criticizing, I feel like, is a pretty common practice, and one that many of us are guilty of on a fairly regular basis. Degrading, however, gives me a much more harsh sensation. I think of the word grating, which makes me think of a cheese grader. It literally takes a block of cheese and shreds the cheese off the block and into tiny pieces. Are we as mothers shredding our fellow moms and ripping them into tiny pieces? Since school is back in session, let’s talk about the stereotypical school parking lot. We all know the stereotypical moms in little circles gossiping about who knows what, after they drop their kids off at school. They could be talking about the teachers, the school or their kids’ classmates, but they could just as easily be talking about another mom in the class. For whatever reason, that mom is different from the group standing around together. It’s just like any other clique, and for me, has an eerily resemblance to the high school lunchroom. Now let me be clear: I’m sure I’m guilty of this too. And it may even sound like mom-shaming for me to be pointing out the people that are doing this, but I am discussing this for a reason. I want this “mom-shaming” to stop! Motherhood is hard, parenting is hard, and let’s be honest, being a human being is hard. Being made to feel like less than those around you is just cruel, and is not useful at all in trying to figure out how to navigate our crazy lives. Whether you're the mom who brings a homemade crayon art thing with the initial of the teacher (all you school age moms know what I'm talking about), or the mom who is still in her pajamas and barely got her kids to school on time, let's decide this year to support each other. Maybe you’re the mom who volunteers in the classroom every week, stuffing the classroom folders or maybe you’re the mom who’s lucky that her boss gave her time off to attend the class fieldtrip. No matter your school status, you're a mom of school-age children, and that can be a demanding, confusing and exhausting place to be. We are all in different seasons and have different circumstances at home. What if we were more focused on our own selves, and less focused on mom-shaming those around us? What if our children saw us reaching out to each other instead of gossiping in the parking lot about each other? Maybe it would change the way they encountered their classmates this year. Maybe if we showed them how to be empathetic to our peers, then we could help teach them how be more empathetic to their peers. Just maybe, our efforts to be more compassionate could change the world. I mean, it’s worth a try. Let’s vow to make mom-shaming a phrase that is no longer in the Urban Dictionary, but instead one of those long-forgotten phrases.
Copyright 2018 Courtney Vallejo