5 months ago
The Comparison and Judgment of Women and Motherhood on Social Media
I feel good about the decisions I’ve made for myself and know that my honesty puts me at risk of being judged on social media. But not being honest puts other moms at risk. Social media has changed how we feel as mothers – who we are, how things look, what we do, and what we (think we) aren’t doing right. It would have been easier to never mention that I have help cleaning our home a few times a month or that I recently hired a part-time nanny, but that wouldn’t be fair to any of the moms who follow me. We are given these glimpses into how other women and mothers live, and the constant comparison and perfection is overwhelming. I find myself wondering how moms find the time and energy to work out, create these amazing crafts for their kids, and then prep a dinner that looks better than whatever we’re having.
It feels important (to me) to share the why and how. Over the past few years, one of the most-asked questions I’ve gotten is “how do you do it all?” and the answer is pretty simple. I don’t, and I want other women to know that. I am someone who wants to create a sense of community – to lift other women up and make them feel less alone.
It shouldn’t have to be said, but I’m going to say it anyway. This is not about the anonymous person who messages messages from a fake account used only to send hateful messages. This is not about an emoji that was used when describing my having a cleaning lady. It’s about the mom who feels like she can’t keep up. The mom who struggles to take care of herself. The mom who silently suffers from anxiety or depression.
Social media has taken mom shaming and judgment to another level. The constant comparison and feeling judged is toxic. In-feed photos look clean and tidy – something I’m guilty of. In my defense, I am always cleaning my home but still, it’s not the big picture. Someone went after me for getting a vaccine to protect my daughter who has Leukemia – it’s sick and sad. There was zero validity to this person’s claims but the behavior is not ok. I’ve been judged for employing women (who I treat well) to help me with my home and childcare. These are choices I feel confident about, but what about the moms who feel guilty?
Last week, I talked about the wonderful women who help us clean our home. The woman I employ, who I found through a friend, brings two other women who all work together (masked) to clean our entire house in just over an hour. It’s so convenient and so, so helpful. They are amazing and we are grateful for the work that they do. We also hired a part-time nanny even though I won’t be going back to work full-time. It is both a gift and privilege to be able to spend more time with my girls and to have help after what felt like a very difficult year. So much of my identity was wrapped up in my company and pre-cancer, I don’t know that I would have had it in me to walk away, but I know without any uncertainty that this is what was best for my family. After Margot’s diagnosis and treatment, there was no going back to the way things were. I truly believe I’m a better mom for it. Having help and getting a break allows me to be fully present when I am with my girls. I get to work and then take Margot outside for lunch, or get some one-on-one time with Katertot. I say none of this to make other moms feel badly. I’ve done the year of being alone with my girls during COVID with a newborn and Leukemia treatment, so we were really alone.
I’m sure many of you heard about the Rachel Hollis incident. I was shocked and offended for women everywhere. It is a privilege to be able to pay for anything that might make life easier and if you treat people well, I do not believe it’s a problem to pay for help. But to say that anyone “deserves” this help more than anyone else? Not ok. To imply that you have this help because you woke up earlier than everyone else and worked harder? That’s garbage. To call the person who helps clean your home someone who “cleans your toilets?” is rude when they do so much more, and it’s work we’ve all done ourselves.
I am able to employ someone to help with my house and children during a pandemic and am not paying anyone to do anything that I would not (and do not) do myself. I am outsourcing – it’s as simple as that. It’s a matter of saving time when and where I can: curbside delivery, Shipt, cleaning, part-time childcare, etc. Anyone with kids knows cleaning happens daily. I do all our laundry, vacuum between cleanings, steam the floors weekly, and clean the kitchen daily.
Did I work hard and put my time in? Yes. But that doesn’t make me unique, special, or more deserving than anyone else. It was a mix of privilege (having good choices to make), luck (good timing), and yes, hard work. But all parents work hard, whether their job is inside or outside the home and hard work is not always synonymous with being able to afford help. And most people work hard, doing everything they can just to get by. It isn’t fair. This is why I started fundraising to help families in treatment for cancer. Life is hard enough, and struggling financially while going through treatment is just too much.
The expectation that we have to do it all is not ok. Judging or shaming others for doing things differently is not ok. Call it out when someone is unkind or offensive, but also evaluate why you’re following someone who hurt or offended you. But it is also not ok to come across as entitled or deserving. Let’s be considerate of others. That doesn’t mean apologizing, but sometimes, explaining the why and how might help someone else.
I realize I’m all over the place here, but given the year I’ve had, I have given a lot of thought into the meaning of all of this (deep, right?) and what I want my little corner of the internet (or instagram) to be. Ads feel so different than I used to and I’ve made mistakes taking on partnerships that were good enough – ones I could make work. Never again. It’s a hell yes, I love it, let’s do this, or no. Fundraising for childhood cancer and being able to connect with and help moms going through treatment feels big and meaningful. I’ve become close to a few moms who I talk to regularly, and I’ve been able to give them what my friend Stacy gave me when we were in the hardest part of treatment. Hope. Someone who understands. Relating to other women, talking about what matters, and sharing the things I enjoy (design, my girls, organizing, etc) is fun, too. I enjoy it, and making some money via affiliate means a lot because as much as I love blogging, I do need to make something, you know? But it’s not just about that, and most content is unpaid.
If someone you follow doesn’t bring joy to your life, unfollow them. I unfollowed 1/3 of the people I was following this week and am unfollowing more. I don’t want to spend my time mindlessly scrolling and don’t need a glimpse into the lives of 1500 people and brands. Our time is worth so much more than that. Let’s make the most of it.