Motherhood shaming is at an all-time high right now. We've all done it to some extent, and most likely, many of us have been victims of it. It's so easy to unfairly judge a mother without knowing the whole story, and according to the internet, it's ALWAYS the mother's fault when something goes wrong.
Why is motherhood shaming so prevalent these days? Even though we say we don't do it, we all do it at one point or another. Just step back and listen in your social circles. I guarantee you'll hear motherhood shaming. Is it a way to build ourselves up and make our lives seem better or is it simply because that's what we do to connect other moms? I'm not quite sure, but one thing is certain: It's getting out of control!
I have a personal experience with motherhood shaming. Shortly after Liam was born, one of my posts about having a child with Down syndrome went viral. Bloggers and writers are always warned about one thing, and that is don't read the comments. And it is absolutely true. Although most of the comments were very positive, there were a few from internet trolls just trying to start a fight. There were also a few genuinely hurtful comments. One sticks out the most: "The child is not retarded. The parents are retarded for bringing a child who has Down syndrome into the world. There's prenatal testing for that." OUCH. But here's the thing. That person did not read beyond the title. He judged me unfairly without even reading that it was never detected through blood tests and ultrasounds. I think we can agree that in many cases, we judge other mothers at first glance, without seeing the big picture.
I recently had the pleasure of watching a pre-screening of Tallulah, a movie written and directed by Sian Heder. The story follows Tallulah (Ellen Page) who is a young woman with no direction in life. After Tallulah's boyfriend leaves her, Tallulah finds herself in an incredibly tough situation where a seemingly unfit mother leaves her toddler in the care of Tallulah while she goes out for the night. When the woman returns and passes out drunk on the bed, leaving her toddler to fend for herself, Tallulah makes the decision to take the toddler from her mother. Tallulah turns to her boyfriend's mother (Allison Janney) for help, even though she was the first woman her boyfriend ran away from. I'm not going to give away anything other than the basic synopsis. This incredibly well written and well acted movie deserves to be seen!
After viewing the movie, I had the amazing opportunity to join a Google Hangout with four other Netflix Stream Team members for an interview with Sian Heder, the talented writer and director of Tallulah. It was such a great experience and I loved getting the behind-the-scenes scoop. The plot was loosely based on an experience Sian Heder had as a nanny at a hotel and several of the scenes were inspired by some of her personal experiences and relationships. I loved the movie the first time around and I can't wait to watch it again now that I have the inside scoop on the some of the scenes!
I could go on and on about the incredible actors, the well written script and the way the storyline draws you in and touches your heart, but what I really want to focus on is the underlying theme of motherhood shaming. My immediate reaction was to support Tallulah's decision, because in my opinion, that mother didn't deserve her child. But on the other hand, it isn't morally right to kidnap a child. Was that child better off with her own neglectful mother or better off with Tallulah? If Tallulah hadn't reacted in that manner, would the child's life be at stake? Although I found myself in favor of Tallulah's decision, my reaction and judgment was a classic case of motherhood shaming.
I think we can all agree that it isn't fair to judge another mother without knowing all the details about the situation. I tend to believe that life isn't black and white. There are lots of shades of gray in between. But is motherhood shaming warranted in some situations, like the situation Tallulah faced?
I will say that because of my own experience, I try not to judge other mothers. I believe in offering encouragement and support, and even defending mothers who are being judged unfairly in certain situations. I believe that it's better to offer help instead of jumping in on the motherhood shaming. I believe in unity. I believe in forgiveness. I believe we must always have an open mind. Most of all, I don't believe there are any perfect human beings, that there isn't a right or wrong answer in most cases and that mistakes happen. The storyline of Tallulah encouraged me to see both sides of the picture, but I still find myself judging some mothers in the most extreme cases. But is that really okay to do?
I want to hear YOUR thoughts about motherhood shaming in the comments below. Have you ever unfairly judged another mother? Have you ever been a victim of motherhood shaming? Are there certain situations that make it okay to shame another mother? What do you think we can do to stop it from spiraling out of control?
Tallulah is definitely a film that touches your heart, makes you think, and it just might change your mind about what you believe in the middle of the movie. Tallulah premieres on Netflix and in select theaters on July 29, 2016. I highly recommend watching the movie and I would love to hear what you think!
DISCLOSURE: I am a member of the StreamTeam. As a member of the Netflix #StreamTeam I am provided with a subscription to Netflix and I also receive other products, special opportunities and exclusive information. All opinions are my own.