Mommy-Shaming

I write letters to Ellen DeGeneres. No particular reason. Just because I can.

Dear Ellen,

It’s finally happened. After almost seven years of being a parent, I’ve been shamed.

 

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Well. Maybe I should clarify because I get mommy-shamed by other mothers all the time. Like with my kids and their milestones. My son was a late-walker. He didn’t start walking until he was 21 months old. I was never worried because I didn’t start walking until I was 22 1/2 months old. But when other mothers saw that my child was 19 months old and wasn’t walking, they would comment.

“My precious poopsie ran his first triathlon when he was 7 months old. By the time he was 12 months old, he could recite The Raven in English, Spanish, French, and Swahili. Oh, and I should also tell you that his poop always smells like potpourri.”

Me: Your kid’s poop smells like potpourri? Are you spiking his apple juice with essential oils?

 

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I think my favorite mommy-shaming story was when my son was 17 months old. We were at the mall and we took him to the play area. Another mother saw him not-walking and asked me if there was something wrong with him.

Me: No. He’s just taking his time.

Her: Well, I think there’s something really wrong with him.

 

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I told my pediatrician what she said. (ICYMI – My son was there for his 18 month checkup and no other reason.) His face turned red.

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“I really wish people would mind their own business and let the doctors do the diagnosing,” he said.

 

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On Wednesday, my six year old told me he was sick and didn’t want to go to school. And then he came downstairs, ate a gallon of cheerios, and chased his sister around the living room.

 

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Now for the last few weeks, he’s had a nasty cough and a runny nose. This inspired the following series of text messages between one of his teachers and me.

 

 

For the record, we’ve been trying to teach him how to do those very things for the last two years.

 

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My husband and I were trying to figure out how to best manage our son’s symptoms.

“I think it’s allergies,” I said. “I had miserable allergies when I was his age and I often coughed like that.”

“It’s not allergies. He needs Robitussin.”

“Robitussin won’t do anything for his runny nose.”

“His runny nose isn’t that bad,” my husband said while scraping dried boogers off our hallway wall.

One phone call to the pediatrician later and I won the argument. The pediatrician agreed it was probably allergies and told us to put him on Zyrtec. “If that doesn’t work,” he said. “Then try the Robitussin.”

And that brings us back to Wednesday. I put my son on the school bus with a dose of allergy medicine. Since I had to take the baby to Atlanta for her scoliosis checkup, I sent a text message to my son’s teachers letting them know that I was going to be in Atlanta in the morning and that my son was pretending to be sick. Unless he had a fever or started vomiting, he stayed in school. What can I say? I’m an asshole.

His teacher – the mommy-shamer- responded.

 

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Sure. She could do that. Or he could stay in his classroom and do his work. Don’t misunderstand, Ellen, I’m really not an asshole. At least, not today. Well, not yet. Ask me again as it gets closer to bedtime.

I know he’s only six but I don’t want any of my kids to turn into twenty-something hipsters who launch a movement on Change.org because they’re outraged their employers won’t let them take a sick day for a stubbed toe. As far as I’m concerned, if you’re calling in sick for a stubbed toe you’d better be on your way to the emergency room for x-rays. Otherwise put your shoes on and get your ass to work!

Kids learn their work ethic from their parents. And it’s the small things – like not making your kid go to school because they are congested that can lead to the #stubbedtoe movement later down the road.

If he was acting sick, I’d be more inclined to keep him home. But he wasn’t acting sick. He was running laps around the living room.

I put him on the bus and headed off to Atlanta. You can read about that super-fun adventure here. I got back from Atlanta around 3:00 pm. Just after 3:30 I received a message from the mommy-shamer:

School is dismissed at 3:40. I’m not really sure why she would send me this message ten minutes before dismissal except that she was trying to shame me for sending my kid to school congested. It worked too. I felt awful.

 

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So there you have it, Ellen. I was shamed by one of my son’s teachers.

Sincerely,

Asshole Marie Silver

Calling all readers! Have you ever been shamed by another parent or a professional? If so, feel free to vent about it in the comments!