single mom

Defensive Parenting

“People are telling me I’m selfish because Rori is going to be my only child.”

This was the beginning of a conversation between my friend and I last night. Not only does she have the best name ever (three guesses what it is), she’s an outstanding person and a wonderful new mom. The road to getting pregnant and the pregnancy itself wasn’t a walk in the park for Ashley and her partner. She’s had to face more health issues than any 20-something should have to. It’s changed her life, her career and her person, but she’s a strong person and she’s made it work. (In case you’re wondering, that is why she’s one of my best friends)

And I sit her defending her, which is almost as crazy as the fact that she has to defend herself and her decision to anyone else. What the what?! Why do we have to defend every.single.decision we make as parents? Why does the rest of the world feel they need to weigh in on that? Ack!

It’s infuriating to think that another person would feel they had the right to tell a mother – especially a new mother, in Ashley’s circumstances – what’s best for her family. Selfish for only having one child? It should be some kind of bad joke, but the unfortunate truth is that shaming has become such a big part of our society that I don’t think folks even realize they’re hurting one another any more.

In the world of Pinterest and My Sweet Sixteen, it’s never been harder to be a Mom. The bar has never been set so high. I was damn happy as a kid to get a homemade pizza and store-bought birthday cake, with a handful of friends to play with. My Mom didn’t wear designer clothes to pick me up from school or gymnastics. And it was great. I often wonder if she worried about how she looked when she went to the playground, not because of how her clothes made her feel but how she felt in front of the eyes of other parents.

We’ve got slut-shaming, fat-shaming, and mom-shaming. At least it’s not racism though, right? (See that? That’s called sarcasm.)

 I‘ve been accused of being selfish and a bad mom because I went back to school. Clearly we can all see how selfish I was to want to work towards a better future for my family. It’s ridiculous and unfair and it totally disrupts our lives as mothers, women, friends, people. And I guess I’m selfish, too, for only having one child. Gosh, what was I thinking? *eye roll*

Is it just me, or does that make about as much sense as wearing a raincoat in the shower or drinking decaf coffee on a Monday morning?

Why do we feel like we have the right to tell another mother how to raise her family? When did it become OK to project our values onto everyone else? I would have loved to have had another child, I’d have loved for F to have a playmate – a little brother or sister to share with and teach and learn from, but I didn’t. And do you know what? I’m not a bit unselfish in being glad for that. Selfish would have been having another child that I would struggle to support financially and emotionally. Selfish would be Ashley having another baby and risking her health, wellness and happiness just to make all of those mom-shaming bullies happy.

Selfish is not considering the welfare of your family first.

Last year, I vowed to stop apologizing as a mother, woman, friend. I won’t apologize for going back to school. I won’t apologize for being a single mom, for not lending my clothes to someone, for not driving people around. I won’t apologize for turning down opportunities that didn’t fit into my plan, or accepting the ones that do. I won’t apologize for putting my son before anyone else. I won’t apologize for making my happiness a priority.  I won’t apologize for standing up for myself or a loved one. Don’t apologize for things that aren’t worthy of an apology.

We shouldn’t have to.

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