It’s that time of year when we can’t seem to scroll through social media without yet another post telling moms to “put on the suit” and “get in the water with your kids.” The internet is filled with advice on how our kids don’t care how we look, only that we play with them. It’s better to be a “fun mom” in the pool, setting aside our body image concerns and splashing with your kids, than to be sitting on the side covered up.
Can we moms just just a break for one goddamn second? Can we high five and fist bump each other without all the “advice” about how we should put on the suit and get in the water with our kids?
Because while I’m all about body positivity and wearing what you want when you want, these posts are really just mom shaming masquerading as encouragement or advice. They are yet another form of one-upmanship and passive-aggressive judging.
Can we please, for a hot minute, stop telling moms what we should and should not be doing?
Can we please stop telling each other how to be what our kids need? Stop implying that one way of enjoying time with our kids is better than another? Stop promoting this mommy martyrdom syndrome that implies that if we aren’t sacrificing our own feelings all the time, we’re somehow failing our kids?
Because there is no right way to be a good mom. There is no right way to have fun with your kids. There is no right way to be you.
Sometimes we want to a rock a new bikini. And we do.
Sometimes we don’t want to put on a swimsuit at all. And we still do it.
Or we don’t.
Sometimes we get in the pool with our kids and jump off diving boards and go down water slides.
And sometimes we park our asses in the lounge chair at the side of the pool reading a book, because holy shit do we deserve a few freaking minutes when children aren’t asking us for this or whining about that. (Of course, this only applies when our kids are old enough and it’s safe for them to be in the water by themselves — and even then, we have to look up from that book continually and watch them like a hawk.)
Maybe when we see a mom doing whatever it is — whether it’s sitting at the pool in a cover-up or splashing around with mascara smeared down her face or looking at her phone for two freaking minutes or screaming her head off on the roller coasters or standing on the side and holding everyone’s shit while they enjoy the rides — we just mind our own business.
How about saying, “Isn’t it great that she brought her kids to the pool even though she doesn’t want to be here and has a million other things going on?”
Or “Isn’t it great that she’s enjoying time with her kids?”
Or “Isn’t it great that she’s taking a minute to herself so she can be a better person?”
If you love doing something with your kids, whether it’s bike riding or swimming in the pool or making glittery Pinterest crafts, go ahead and do it. Love the shit out of it.
But can we please stop telling other moms that they should put their wants and needs and feelings (whether they’re feelings of vulnerability or distraction or sheer exhaustion) aside all the damn time? Can we please stop implying that if you aren’t actively playing with your kids or enjoying whatever they are doing that you aren’t a good mom?
Can we please pretty please stop all the mom shaming disguised as thinly veiled mom rah-rah moments?
Of course, everyone should feel comfortable enough in their own skin to wear and do what they love. OF COURSE. Every body is gorgeous and amazing. And I understand that we all need a little pick-me-up reminder now and then. Believe me, it’s been a decades-long battle for me to stop fretting about cellulite, rolls, and a belly that perpetually looks 5 month pregnant. It’s a daily struggle to not obsess about this stuff. So I understand the intention behind some of these encouraging reminders for us to stop worrying so much about what we look like and focus instead on enjoying this one life and one body that we have. In a patriarchal society that continues to show us airbrushed images telling us what we “should” look like, I appreciate the reminders from others that we’re all beautiful. We don’t need to look a certain way to be entitled to seize joy. There’s no such thing as a “swimsuit body.” There is only a swimsuit on a body. Period.
But let’s just let moms be moms, can we? We’re out here doing our damn best to be the best we can for these little people we love so much, whether that’s splashing around in the pool or sitting under an umbrella in the shade with a book in hand.
Because there is no right way to be a good mom.