My Facebook Moms' Group Used To Be My Village, But Now It's A Witch Hunt

Leah Copland's safe space is now full of judgmental moms

I always used to joke with friends that if I misbehaved, I would end up on my local mommy’s Facebook group. Sadly, that’s a little too close to the truth these days.

My mommy’s group used to be such an amazing, supportive group. Now it's full of too many judgmental moms who can't fathom that there is more than one way to be a good mom and that the lines aren't black and white or so well defined.

I love my children more than anything, but yesterday I left the four of them in the car with it running while I used an ATM directly in front of my parking spot. I was less worried that anything would happen to them or on the look out for strangers and scary people, than I was watching nervously for other moms, in fear of harsh judgment and public shaming. I love my kids more than anything, but they eat McDonald's and I don't play with them at the park or indoor playgrounds. I bring wine in a sippy cup to soccer games, I shout when I'm mad, they all “cried it out”. I swear when they can hear (and, yes, sometimes they repeat it). I have given them Benadryl to make them go the f**k to sleep, and I use spray or non-organic sunscreen. My ADHD son is medicated.

I also extended my maternity leave to help my autistic/ADHD son transition to Grade 1. I fought hours and hours each week with admin and the superintendent to get him an IEP (Individualized Education Program) and all the support he needs. I cared for two preemie babies in the NICU while ensuring their siblings never knew how much I was away. I spent months upon months of sleepless nights breastfeeding, worrying, planning, making, nursing them back to health. I cared for a hubby who nearly died, while on bed rest and an IV and my kids never knew the difference. I have spent several hundred hours with medical, behavioral, developmental, emotional health and educational specialists advocating and researching and learning for my kids.

I stand back and watch as they figure out how to advocate for themselves and problem solve with peers instead of hovering and solving problems for them. I send my seven and five-year old into a Starbucks or pizza place to grab our order while I wait with the younger two, watching from the car. I give them the autonomy to choose what they want to wear, even if they're wearing a Halloween costume for picture day or if my son wants to wear a tutu to swimming lessons and the grocery store. They know the proper names for anatomy and shower or dress around both my husband and me.

They have severe temper tantrums and meltdowns in public and I don't give in or just give them what they want. They eagerly know and wait to tell me what they did to make the world a better place each evening. They don't and won't do homework from school. They are told by me when they're in the wrong and held accountable for their actions. They will confidently assert that there's no such thing as a girl or boy toy/ article of clothing/activity unless you specifically need a penis or vagina to operate it/wear it/do it. Even though I know I'm doing what's best for my kids, I still worry for the fear of the judgy moms who might see me not intervene, wondering if it will end up reported on our Mommy Facebook group. 

Sadly, the lowest of the lows I've felt as a mother was not because of anything that I did or my kids made me feel. I cry with embarrassment when my son assaults me when he's 'stuck' on something. I want him to wear a shirt that says "I'm autistic" when out in public so there might be a shred of empathy or support in place of criticism: "My kid would never get away with that" or "He needs a good smack" or "Well, if she was paying more attention to him, they wouldn't be acting like that."

Even when I know I'm doing the best job I can, I cry with embarrassment because of this fear of judgment. It affects me so much, but only because I'm not the only one it impacts. I know those same moms judging me are voicing this disgust in front of their kids, uttering things like "Just stay away from her" or "Don't play with him". The judgment multiplies and is taught to their children and my kids will miss out or suffer because of it. That's where it gets me and hurts so deeply.

It's so incredibly sad for me as this used to be my village. But now I fear that anything I do or say is being judged and evaluated and that nestled amongst the funny memes and witty GIFs, my parenting could fire up yet another mommy war.

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