I had just solidified my place in what seemed like a great mommy group filled with smart, professional women who regularly met at a neighborhood toddler play class.
As I positioned my son’s stroller along the back wall and leaned over him to unfasten his seat belt, one of the new moms in the group stood over us watching. Suddenly, she let out a horrified, "Please tell me that’s not Cheetos dust on your son's hands!"
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I felt a red hot flush come over my face. His little toddler paws were covered in the telltale bright orange powder; there was no denying what he’d been eating. I quickly fumbled for a wipe to clear away the mess, not to mention my maternal shame, and slinked quietly into the class, hoping I wouldn’t be cast out of the group as the failed mother who (gasp!) allowed her child to eat junk food.
Snide comments about your parenting -- what you feed your child, how you handle a public tantrum, where you choose to send your child to school -- can feel deeply personal and hurtful. If you are new to the job of mothering (or even if you’re not), you know that a well-placed criticism can cause you serious self-doubt about your parenting skills.
It’s the rare mom who never experiences self-doubt. It’s one of the occupational hazards that come with being a mom. So how do you know if you’re actually being a good mother? Figuring out what works for you and your kids and learning to trust yourself is the best way, experienced moms say. Here’s how to tune in to that self-confidence and own your Supermom within.
Parenting as a Spectator Sport
My Cheetos incident left me feeling inadequate. What kind of mother feeds her kid processed food that leaves an orange stain? But after the shame subsided, I was outraged. Who was this woman to openly chastise me for the choices I made for my son, no matter what they were?
"Motherhood has become like a spectator sport," Jen Singer, mom to two preteen boys and founder of MommaSaid.net, says. "People feel free to comment on other’s parenting skills. Throw into the mix the Internet and it all goes downhill from there."