Mom-shaming in the Face of Type 1 Diabetes

Mom 2

At one time or another, many of us have been mom-shamed. Whether it’s breast-feeding vs. bottle-feeding, working vs. staying at home, or conventional vs. organic food, this recent phenomenon of judging one another’s parenting choices, especially on social media, makes an already tough job even more difficult. But what happens when you add type 1 diabetes into the picture? With myriad ways of managing this disease for a child, there is definitely the opportunity to judge and be judged within the T1D parenting community.

I’m relatively new to this world, having just passed my son’s diabetes anniversary in late October. And while I’ve never been directly and openly mom-shamed about his care (the rest of my parenting is another story), I can’t help but feel like there is a delicate balance between supporting other parents with advice and being critical.

Some kids are on pumps, CGMs—really, every piece of technology available—while others are fine with MDIs. Diabetes dogs are very popular, but not everyone wants or can afford to care for one. There are moms who log every carb, every bolus, and every blood sugar in a binder, spreadsheet or smart phone, and those who don’t. Some advocate for a cure and fundraise religiously, while others stay relatively quiet and keep their type 1 lifestyle hidden.

We are lucky to have so many available products and options for managing our kids’ illness. But in this culture of mom-shaming, it’s not always easy to chart your own course when surrounded by others in the same T1D boat.

I don’t have a binder with all of my son’s medical information organized alphabetically by color, as suggested by one mom at the monthly parents group. I tried logging his food in a notebook like the very organized mom of five at the same meeting, but failed to keep up with three kids in my kitchen at every meal. One mom I met had one child, whom she homeschooled and she never left her child’s side. Me? I send him off to school every day and trust the school nurse and his teacher will communicate with me regularly. Another diabetes mom on Facebook posted constant pictures of her CGM-in-the-Cloud readings, and I wondered if we were missing out by not jumping the gun on technology sooner.

These experiences have definitely brought up feelings of judgment, insecurity, and doubt. While I feel like a failure for not keeping up with technology or logbooks, and guilty for trusting other adults with my son’s care while I work or enjoy a night out with my husband, I know I have judged others for their choices as well. It really seems like it’s in our nature as parents in 2014 to succumb to this mom-shaming, whether consciously or not.

Being engaged with the Glu community has shown me that there is no correct way to live this life with T1D. Every child, every parent, and every family is different, and the most important thing is that we all love our kids and would do anything to take this disease away from them. If only we could also put our judgments and insecurities aside, we’d have a lot more energy for dealing with T1D every day.

Amy Bevan–GluMom

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