I wrote a piece on my blog a couple of months ago that, by my standards, went viral.
In my opinion, it was pretty simple. It literally broke down, in a list of 13 items, what it really means when a mom says she needs a break. It included things like “a trip to the grocery store alone isn’t what she means by a break,” and that sometimes, it’s hard to admit when we need a break because we don’t want to appear weak or incapable.
I was overcome by the response that the piece received. In total, it was shared over 100,000 times. It was overwhelmingly beautiful to see how many moms, just like myself, shared my sentiment. They expressed in the comments how badly they needed a break, and some women even tagged their partners, thanking them for providing them with the breaks they need.
Then, different types of comments started rolling in.
They were ugly and judgmental, both from moms and non-moms alike. They were downright nasty, basically telling me that I should never have had kids if I wanted a break from them.
I was called “a terrible mother.”
Someone actually said that they felt sorry for my children.
To say I was taken aback would be the understatement of the century. I literally could not believe what I was reading.
Never, in a million years, could I have imagined the negative stigma that comes with mothers admitting that they need a break from their children or their families. If you even remotely mention you’re exhausted from wiping noses, being a snack bitch, not getting a good night’s sleep in five years, or just from running around like a chicken with your head cut off, you’re perceived as weak or lazy.
If you mention that you’re taking a weekend to check into a hotel, alone, while your husband stays with the kids, you’re perceived as an absent mother.
If you admit that there are some days where you find yourself not really loving motherhood, you are perceived as ungrateful for the children you have and called unfit.
Why? Why is this a thing?
What happened to moms supporting other moms, or women supporting other women?
In all times, but especially in times like this, we need to build each other up, not knock each other down. We need to have understanding and empathy. We need to understand that just because a mom is expressing how exhausted she is or how in need she is of a break, she should never be shamed or told she is a bad mother.
While some mothers are, unfortunately, not afforded the luxury of being able to have some time to themselves, that does not mean jealousy or shame should be thrown on those mothers who do have that luxury.
This ugliness needs to stop. This judgment and this toxicity to others needs to end.
No, a mother who expresses her need or desire for a break is not a monster.
A mother who expresses her need or desire for a break is not incapable of being a great mother.
A mother who expresses her need or desire for a break is not a bad mother.
A mother who expresses her need or desire for a break is not lazy.
A mother who expresses her need or desire for a break is not selfish.
A mother who expresses her need or desire for a break is not careless.
A mother who expresses her need or desire for a break is not weak.
A mother who expresses her need or desire for a break is simply human.
About the Author
Dana is a Jacksonville transplant and a New Yorker at heart, though she’s lived in Florida for 24 years. Most days, you can find her fumbling her way through motherhood as a first-time mom to Cooper, and being a horrendous housewife to her husband Mark. She also enjoys watching episodes of Daniel Tiger (long after her son has gone down for a nap) eating her son’s leftover dino nuggets that he refused to eat, and binging true crime documentaries on Netflix with her husband. She lives solely on caffeine and parenting humor, with a particular interest in creating funny parenthood memes.