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On Judging Mothers

Yesterday I was surprised to read a headline about new celebrity mom, Chrissy Teigen. What was the ruckus about? Her sin, as judged by the internet and media outlets was deciding to go out for a meal with her husband one week after having a baby. People on the internet, including other celebrities were questioning her abilities as a mom. Part of me was amused that others would feel the need to weigh in on someone's life whom they know nothing about, and the other part of me was seriously disturbed because no one thinks twice about passing judgment on mothers, both new and seasoned, on every decision they make. Couldn't the internet jury just as easily blamed Chrissy's husband John Legend and said he should have stayed home with the baby while his wife took some much needed time for herself? That didn't happen.

The job of mothering is in and of itself selfless and never ending, but should we as women have to give up our entire identity in order to fulfill this absurd notion of the perfect mom? It's true that a baby needs nurturing, often given to it by its mother, but what a baby really needs is a mentally and physically healthy mom. There's a reason when you're on an airplane the emergency instructions given to passengers by flight attendants instructs parents to place the oxygen mask on themselves before they place one on their child. In order for parents to be effective, they need to take care of themselves and that includes their relationships. The stress and exhaustion of having a new child compounds things in a relationship that you once thought of as minor annoyances. How many of us have looked at our partner sleeping soundly while your newborn cried in the same room and thought, "You jerk! Get up and help with the baby! It's your shift!!!" I remember on more than one occasion tossing, hmmm...maybe pelting might be more accurate, several pillows at my husband to get him out of bed to attend to our son since he agreed that he would stand guard for a few hours so that I could rest. I wasn't asking for much. I just wanted one solid 3 hour stretch of sleep. Would the internet jury consider me selfish?

I applaud Chissy Teigen and other moms who are able to get out with family or friends for get-togethers just days or weeks after having a child. Not having family close by, and having a husband who at the time had his own business meant I was juggling caring for a child, household, and myself single-handedly. Those hours just before my husband came home felt like an eternity. I would have given anything to be able to get out of my spit stained pajamas, take a shower, put on makeup, do my hair and have a nice warm meal out with my husband. Even if it's only for an hour, it's nice to look at your partner and remember why you said, "I choose you." It's nice to reconnect and feel like something other than a milk making, diaper changing machine. You don't feel sexy after giving birth. Some days you don't feel human. You feel tired. You feel stinky. The baby needs a diaper change, and when you first get home after giving birth, it sometimes feels like you need to be on that same diaper changing schedule as your child. Am I lying, ladies? What's wrong with a couple who has the means to find someone to watch their child while they get a moment to themselves, to feel like people other than parents? It doesn't make them bad parents. It makes them real. It makes them human. ~HZM

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