Getting Real with Shadra Bruce

There seems to be no end to mom-shaming, but really, you should get over yourself. You’re not a better mom than me anymore than I’m a better mom than you. We’ve all had our share of parenting fails. Like the time I was so exhausted while holding my newborn son that he rolled out of my arms and hit the floor and started crying before I even realized I’d fallen asleep holding him. Or the time I lied to Facebook to let my 11-year old have an account because I wanted him to learn how to navigate social media while I still had some control over what he did.

Regardless of how great your mom skills are, it seems there is always someone willing to point out where you’ve gone wrong and what you could have done better. This can be incredibly stressful – and even painful, particularly for new moms who are just trying to do their best. Kids do not come with instruction manuals!!

It can be hard to decipher where helpful advice begins and judgmental opinions that should be disregarded end. It would be so much easier if everyone would just chill out, and let parents make some harmless mistakes along the way.

Mistakes are how we learn, and sometimes, parenting is about survival. There were some days where I happily offered a strong curriculum of ABCs, coloring, and fine motor play. Then other days I relied on Nick Jr. to do most of the work because I was overwhelmed, sick, or simply didn’t have the time. This does not make me a bad parent. I may be a mom, but I’m also human, and I don’t feel bad about the parenting “fails” that happened with my kids.

Too much screen time.

Sometimes my kids watched way more than an hour or two of television. Once they were old enough to navigate a computer, I didn’t hesitate to put on some Sesame Street games and call it educational. In all honesty, some of those TVand computer programs taught my kids when I didn’t have the time or energy, and sometimes, they just kept them out of my hair for 15 minutes so I could get the laundry done. They are all brilliant individuals, so no harm, no foul.

Not enough – or too much – attention.

Life happens in waves, and of course, parenting is the same. There were years I spent as a stay-at-home mom and could dedicate every second to my children, and there were years I was a working mom and only had the evenings and weekends. In both circumstances, I went through different phases. Sometimes I failed to offer enough independence and may have smothered my kids a bit. Other times, freedom was granted because I simply did not have time to balance everything all five kids needed. Should I feel guilty about this? Absolutely not, because every day, I know that I was doing my best.

My kids ate fast food more than they ate organic.

When the kids were young and we were broke, they didn’t eat well. To this day, Kira almost gags at the idea of Hamburger helper, which was a constant staple for a couple of tight years. One of my favorite memories is my youngest son’s first trip to McDonald’s. He was less than a year old, enjoying his first Happy Meal. And when McDonalds offered 39-cent cheeseburgers? You bet we were buying them up in bulk to feed the 7 of us. And the ice cream. Don’t even get me started on the amount of ice cream we have eaten. Today, our kids all eat fairly balanced diets and are healthy individuals. The miles of french fries did not cause an addiction, because at the end of the day, we still sat around a dining room table nearly every night and had a home-cooked meal.

In the end, as long as you do your best and offer love and support, those parenting “fails” aren’t going to doom your children. There will be so many challenges that you will face in parenting, screen time and junk food are not always the priority. Ignore the sanctimommies that demand every kid be fed all organic and limited to 30 minutes of screen time per day. Despite what so many Instagram mommies would have us think, no mom is perfect. If your kids are healthy and loved, you are rocking this parenting thing.