The Truth About Mom-Shame and What We Can Do

Mom-shame choice

The Truth About Mom-Shame and What We Can Do

We each have the freedom to choose between reacting to mom-shame and our choice to rise above. This is a story about when I had my first mom-shaming experience (that I am aware of) and my response.

I like the quote when Michelle Obama said, “When they go low, we go high.”

We cannot always control how others treat us, but we can control how we will respond. What would you do?

I was feeling pretty good

My kids are good shoppers, normal kids with limits, but I enjoy taking them the majority of the time. On this day, we were at Aldi and:

1. We were all fully dressed
2. I had my wallet and cards
3. Packed their waters and snacks (I love these cups! <link>)
4. I had my list
5. Remembered a quarter (for the cart)
6. I brought my reusable bags (These bags are so great! <link>)

If you’re a mom (and know Aldi), you know. You know I had my act together if all of the above was checked off the list on a trip to Aldi – at least on that day.

The Check Out Lane

Checking out, because of how they swap carts to keep things moving, I had to get the kids out. It took me a few seconds because…Littles. And they were now free to move.

For efficiency, Aldi really likes to get you through the check out line quickly (read rush/no time for tiny humans). The cashier started grabbing items from the cart and throwing them over the cart (and the kids’ heads) on to the belt.

The kids were ‘helping’, too.

In the fray, somehow an egg was broken.


The Young Mother

The Young Mother behind us with a baby in her cart will inherit mine because of the Aldi cart-swapping policy. This post at explains it if you scroll down (link). Loudly, she started saying, “you have broken eggs! It needs to be cleaned! These boys are wild! His is ridiculous!” and so on.

Ignoring her, I asked my 5-year-old to take the eggs back and exchange it for another. I continued to unload the rest of my items. Simultaneously, I kept my eyes on my ‘heart walking around’ 5-year-old and my ‘loving helper’ 3-year-old, ‘helping’. It took everything within me to remain unruffled as this person hurdled judgments at me. 

She continued, “he’s going to put the broken carton in the case? You’ve got egg everywhere! You’ve got to be kidding me. It needs to be cleaned up!” And on and on. 

Disgusted with Me

As this was happening, I tried to ignore her, but she was very close and very loud. She also seemed to be trying full force to shame me for all to hear. 

5-year-old returned. Everything unloaded. There was a tiny amount of egg on the seat. I got a wipe from my bag and clean the cart. 

Young Mother started again, “that is disgusting! I’m not putting my baby on that!” And so on. I honestly, did not catch all she was saying. I was trying my best to stay focused on keeping my boys safe and getting through the line. 

It took a tremendous amount of self-control not to say anything to her. At the very least, I wanted to tell her to shut up (shh, I don’t let my kids use that phrase).

But I made a choice.

The Truth About Mom-Shame and What We Can Do

Upon reflection, the truth is my kids were, in fact, not ridiculous. They were well-behaved and being as helpful as could be expected.

The truth is there was nothing wrong with allowing my child to exchange the broken carton while I watched. That is why people check the carton before they take one. He was safe and got a moment of independence. I was proud of his little errand.

Another truth: her reaction had much more to do with how she was feeling and interacting with the world that anything to do with me.

Behavior is Communication

Then I made some realizations. She appeared to be a first-time mother and that is an intense time. I get it.

I don’t know why she felt entitle to speak at me that way — I will never know. But I do know that I cannot control everything that happens to me. I can chose how I respond and I am proud of my reaction that day.

Her behavior was not in proportion to the actual facts of the situation. That is unfair, but behavior is communication. You know what Young Mother was communicating with me?

Without words she said, “I am overwhelmed and anxious. It makes me uncomfortable to watch all that you are managing there. I am too focused on my pain to give you the benefit of the doubt.”

See, Not About Me.

I Choose Compassion

I may never know exactly what was happening in her world. But I do know that no one wants to feel that much discomfort. No one who is happy and healthy set out in the morning to spew nasty things at a stranger. I feel for her.

So I choose compassion. I chose to give her the grace in the moment. Grace that the load she is carrying is greater than my seven minutes of stress in the Aldi line.

I Choose Compassion for Myself

To be transparent, I was feeling guilt and a little shame. Maybe I could have done better? I could have controlled my kids’ busyness or unloaded the items faster? I probably could do something different, right?

Maybe I should have spoken up or asked the cashier for support or something to improve the interaction. Would that have helped?

I started spinning a web of malaise over my mind.

But I chose to stop and make an intentional choice.

I chose to not let those thoughts of self-doubt take hold. Maybe I could have done better in the eyes of someone else, but the truth is I was doing the very best that I could do. That is thriving.

Thriving is living your best For You.

And thriving is also choosing compassion for myself. Compassion is acknowledging that was a yucky situation that I somehow figured out how to come out feeling good about. I was treated unfairly, but that does not mean I need to be unfair to myself.

The Truth About Mom-Shame and What We Can Do

We cannot always control how others treat us, but we can control how we will respond. What would you do?

We each have the freedom between reacting to mom shaming and our choice to rise above. This story about my mom-shaming experience helped me learn what my choice will be when they go low. I go high.

What would you choose?

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About Jaime, the author

Jaime Ragsdale
Jaime Ragsdale, Founder of Altogether Mostly

At Altogether Mostly, you will find grace, compassion, joy, and beauty. I use empathy and a little tough love to bring out the best in people. I live in the Midwest United States with my loving husband and awesome children. For more about me and Altogether Mostly, please visit my about page here.

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