Like any human being on this big, blue, spinning jewel, I like to express myself. Just like anyone else, I give my opinion, I sing rather loudly and off-key, I read what I like, write, create poetry. I also dye my hair crazy colors, and I have tattoos and piercings. These are things that describe me, but don't define me.
I don't just have a tattoo and piercing, I have several. There are three tattoos around my ankles, I'm planning for more. Those can usually be covered with socks or pants. The piercings, on the other hand, are quite noticeable. On my ears, I have a helix, a forward helix, a conch, a snug, standard and upper lobe piercings, and that's just my ears. I also have a half-spider bite (one side of my lower lip) and my septum.
I think of this as art. I think of it as cathartic, but many people see it as obscene or irresponsible because I am a mother. I've had doctors ignore looking into a condition because I have my lip pierced and made me feel as if I was just after drugs. I get looks at the store when I'm with my children. Parent-teacher conferences where their eyes are focused on the piercings. There is no way I could be a responsible mother.
This started me thinking about all the things mothers are judged for. Working mothers, stay-home-moms, fit moms, moms with overweight children, moms who go out all the time, moms who lose themselves because they do nothing but take care of their children, moms who nurse in public and those who cover up. There are moms that use a harness on their child, who walk with their children in the winter time. There are mothers who let their children play in the backyard unattended, GASP!
I can remember being a child, before cell phones and video games, my Tia's would gather at my Abuela's house and all the cousins would be sent outside to play. There was a big brick pile that we would play on and an old run down house, a field to run in. All of my cousins are alive today. I used to play on the road outside my house, but I couldn't imagine letting my children do the same today.
When did raising a child become a "pissing contest"? Who can do it better? Whose more supportive, whose more encouraging, whose kid is smarter? I'm no angel, I catch myself doing this more than I would like to admit. What right do I have to judge anyone else when I don't like others judging me? My way of doing things is not the same as someone else's.
In response to this, women are standing up. Breastfeeding moms are refusing to hide in bathrooms or cover while feeding their child. If a man can adjust in public, a mom should be able to feed her baby. If a mom needs to work, she should be able to make money for her family, she is pushing back at the inequality that doesn't allow her to have a career and be a mom.
Fact is, we care more about what others are doing than we should. We compare ourselves to other mom's and this is toxic. There will always be someone out there that looks as if they have everything more put together than you do. They don't! There may be things that another mother can do that the first can't, and she may see her as having it all together.
I know a woman who frustrates me because she looks perfect, and like she has it all together. This woman struggles because she feels she lost herself in motherhood. She doesn't know how to juggle being a mom and being herself. Of all the things I question as a mother, knowing who I am is something that I have never doubted.
So women shouldn't concern themselves with the type of mother other women are. Instead, consider the children being abused in their homes. Think about the children who are being bullied and live this every day. Let us take the energy we use judging other people and use it to figure out how to help the children who don't have it as well as our children.
My tattoos and piercings are an expression of myself, they do not make me a bad mom, nor will I let the stare of others make me feel as if I am. This is a promise to me to stop judging other moms as well. There are two beautiful children that need my attention.