Let's All Stop Mom-Shaming Each Other When We Travel, OK?

Let's All Stop Mom-Shaming Each Other When We Travel, OK?

Insulting another parent's style is anything but worldly.

By Bryce Gruber

A written-to-go-viral essay titled Yes, I Judge Parents Who Dump Kids At Hotel Kids Clubs During Family Vacations is the latest installment of The Internet versus The Internet, and I'm over here in my crayon-scribbled corner with a bucket of popcorn rolling my eyes.

Before I even get into the level of absurdity it takes to pen an article with the words "I judge" right there in the title (isn't parenting at least 10 percent about teaching our spawn not to judge others?), you should know that the article was spread far and wide — and even major newspapers are having a field day with the mom blogger who wrote it.

So let's pretend for a minute that mom blogging is a pleasant space for encouraging and loving moms. Now go ahead and read the above-linked piece author Christine Coppa wrote about how she likes to travel with her son as a single mom, and judge all the other moms who don't parent exactly the way she does. I hope you're sitting with a beverage while you read — then stay with me as I'm about to explain why it's so important for moms to high five other moms and get off each other's backs.

The author starts by detailing her busy life as a single mom of one son and how she wishes for more quiet time to do things like playing board games with him. I feel you, Christine, and as a former single mom of a little boy, I'm totally on board with that sentiment, but I'm also on board with the bold reality that everyone's lives are different and require different things, which is why the next paragraph in particular made the little hairs on the back of my neck stick straight up, grow little eyeballs of their own, and roll them so hard the hairs actually withered and died.

"There were so many kids in the hotel kid club; I couldn't count them all. I wondered what their parents were doing: A quiet lunch? Massage? Parasailing? Afternoon delight? Getting drunk? Whatever they were doing, I decided they sucked immediately."

Oh did you? Did you decide that hardworking parents suck for having a moment to unwind, potentially work on their marriages, grab a moment of sanity, and secure the base of their family tower? Let me paint a picture for you so we're clear: I'm 33, now married, and have four children ages eight and under, and I love the rare opportunity to eat a quiet lunch with my husband. We're not talking about massages, room romps, or shopping jaunts. Parents with more than one kid literally revel in the the sheer idea that a quiet meal without someone tugging on their pant legs can be had.

Perhaps the parents you saw, the same ones you decided "sucked" were taking a brief moment to collect their emotional thoughts — you know, sort of like a vacation — and return to their children a short while later as better people. If a couple sends their kid(s) to hotel kiddie camp so they can make time to rekindle their flames, unwind from the stress they face at home, or take a much-needed minute to find their independence and reclaim some self-esteem, why exactly is that a bad thing? I've had close friends take family trips after losing loved ones, to help give their expensive and emotionally-challenging IVF treatments a boost, and even to help bridge nearly failed marriages. Families are living, breathing ecosystems. Happy parents make happy children, and happy children remind parents what life is all about. Happy children do not appear out of thin air, though, and parents need to do what they can to protect and build their own happiness and let it rain down on their children daily. 

Now let's address that a lot of those kids clubs offer genuinely fun activities for children, and give little ones the ability to mingle with other kids their own age. If you have only one child (which is great, so happy for you!), maybe there's a small chance he may enjoy time hanging out with peers, doing kid stuff instead of mom-time only? Is there a possible balance? Isn't vacation supposed to be about enjoying yourself, letting go, and making the most of your time? My children, ages eight, four, three, and eight months literally live from playdate to playdate. Other kids, new toys, sports, and age-appropriate games are their entire joie de vivre.

While I'd love to tell you they want me and nothing but me every moment of every day, they're independent souls with minds of their own and love every type of camp they can get their hands on. Matter of fact, I've just landed at Atlantis in the Bahamas and have already booked some kiddie club time for the oldest child traveling with me, because I think he'll go nuts if he doesn't get time to play with other children around his age. Sitting with my by the pool 24/7 simply won't be as fun as a couple hours painting dolphins and going on nature walks designed specifically for children. The whole point of camp is community, and giving my kids a sense of community and social skills is right up there on my priorities list with reading, writing, and peeing in toilets without leaving splatter.

Literally impossible to get them all to look in the same direction at the same time, but I tried 🤣

A post shared by Bryce Gruber Hermon (@brycegruber) on

Coppa delves deeper in her story about giving her son all the best and healthiest life experiences, going as far as to specify that the frozen pizza she occasionally feeds him is organic (does it matter?), aside from the great gift of accepting others: "I have trust issues and will not leave my son with strangers in a different country near large bodies of water." Is it just me, or is that tinged with American elitism and maybe, just maybe, a smidgen racially charged?

Based on the details she provided about her observations of a resort kids' club — a waterpark, warm weather, ocean access, tropical drinks — there's a decent chance her trip was to Mexico or the Caribbean. So an American-accented babysitter would rank higher than one with a foreign accent of perhaps equal qualifications? Noted. I'll use that logic the next time I argue with my foreign-born husband over something and we're near a near a body of water.

What the author fails to realize here is what travel is all about. It's is about seeing new things, new people, new cultures, and new sides of yourself in a non-judgmental way. If you don't want to genuinely explore yourself and new surroundings, why schlep yourself and your kid to a resort to begin with?

If you want to judge the way other people travel (and parent!) you're probably better suited for a quiet movie night at home with a tropical-flavored snack. Do us all a favor and stay in your yoga pants if you want to keep mom-shaming though, because the open-minded people of Earth are out there looking to taste life and let their kids have a nibble, too.

High fives and cheers to all the moms packing sunscreen, swimmies, and snacks for their next big trip to anywhere. And however you choose to do it is fine to me!

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