“I don’t know how you [stay home/go to work]!”
If you’re a mom, chances are you’ve heard that phrase before. And if you’ve heard that phrase before, chances are you’re all too familiar with the thinly veiled insults that often accompany it. But when Jenni Friske, 28, a manager of North Branch Bar & Grill in Michigan, encountered judgment as she prepared to return back to work after the birth of her third child, she decided enough was enough.
With the birth of her twin daughters, Braelin and Taegin, four years ago, the determined mother noticed instances of mom-shaming she encountered tended to occur in small digs, like being poked over and over again. She noticed instances such as people discussing the importance of breastfeeding after she was unable to breastfeed, being tagged in posts that opposed her personal beliefs as a mother, or even “tsk-tsking” from other moms at the store when an unruly toddler strayed too far from her cart.
After Friske received yet another comment from someone who thought it was “too soon” for her to return to work after having a baby, she took to Facebook to confront the large and small forms of mom-shaming she knows all mothers face.
“As I’m preparing for my full return to work I cannot help but prime myself for the inevitable: the mom shaming,” she started her post. “People can say it won’t be there, but it will. I’ve been down this road before…”
Friske went on to tackle the many hot button issues that moms face, from having C-sections to working full-time to using formula.
“I just had my third baby girl about six weeks ago,” she continued. “I would say delivered but for those that believe a C-Section isn’t an actual birth I don’t want to insult you. It went perfectly, she was born a healthy 7 pounds, 21 inches. She nursed like a champ, for about two weeks, and then the same thing happened as it did with the twins. The milk stopped producing. For those of you who do not believe this can happen it does. And it sucks, but I refuse to belittle myself as I did before. I’ve spoken to specialist, I’ve taken vitamins and made disgusting shakes. I’ve pumped and I’ve cried. But that’s over, I’ve moved on…so should you. Honestly don’t worry, she’s perfect.”
The hard-working mom tells Babble that her entrance to motherhood was not a typical one. Friske found out that she was pregnant two years shy of the anniversary of her mother’s death from pancreatic cancer.
Friske and her mother, who used to manage the bar the young mom now runs, were very close and her death devastated the young woman, sending her into what Friske calls a “toxic life” — working too much, drinking, and trying to maintain a full course load in college. It was during that dark time in her life when Friske got a double surprise when she and her then boyfriend, Brandin, found out they were pregnant with twins at their 20-week ultrasound.
“[The twins] helped fill a spot in my heart that I thought would forever have a hole,” she says. “They saved me. They restored my faith and I could feel the love they had for me.”
As the Friske family grew, the new mom quickly discovered what worked for her as a new mom and wife. She returned to work soon after each of her babies were born, knowing that they were well-cared for by close friends and family. It was a decision she knew was right for her, as it provides them with income and flexibility as primarily works second shift and is able to make her own schedule.
Being at the restaurant where she first started working with her mother also comforts and connects her to the place she spent 20 years of her life in with her mom.
“I need to identify myself separate from being a mom, that’s who I am,” Friske explained in her post. “I envy my stay-at-home-mom acquaintances… it’s the hardest job in the world and some of you make it look easy. I can’t. If I stayed home I would come to resent my husband and my children. But don’t think, for one second, that I do not love my children just the same. I love them so much that I can admit my shortcomings. This is what works for us, and although everyone may not agree with my choices, they’re mine to make. I will not come at other moms for their parenting decisions, so please do me the same courtesy.”
Friske points out that she felt the need to tackle mom-shaming in her post, because in the end, none of the small things matter when it comes to how we choose to raise our families.
“The root of a good mom is their love for their children, with the ultimate goal being their children’s safety and well-being,” she added. “We have rights as mothers and parents to parent as we see fit, and I think that’s a beautiful thing. I took my girls to the park the other day for an end-of-the-year school party and you know what? I couldn’t tell which ones were breastfed or bottle-fed, vaccinated or not-vaccinated, born ‘naturally’ or by C-Section…I could only see children being children on a sunny day at the park.”
Moms everywhere nodded their heads when reading Friske’s words and encouragement to end the shaming and judgement.
“I’m usually late, I’m definitely not always put together, I lose my patience, I choose to vaccinate my children, and *gasp* they get spankings and put in time out,” she wrote. “These may be the things I’m judged on, but man do I love them. They quite literally saved me, from such a dark time in my life. They give me purpose, but so does my job. Even if it is just managing a bar. So please do me a favor and leave those comments out of our conversation and just ask me to see pictures of my gorgeous daughters. And do yourself a favor and never question my love for my children because I won’t be so cordial.
Here’s to all my mom friends…do what you think is best for you and yours. That’s all we can do. #StopTheMomShaming.”