Before there was I Thought It Was Just Me, there was Women & Shame - my attempt at self-publishing after receiving 6,432 rejection letters that all read:
Dear Dr. Brown,
As sexy and marketable as a book on shame sounds, we're going to pass.
And these were rejections from agents - not even publishers. The only exception was an agent who asked me if I was willing to "reframe" my research to "women's most embarrassing moments." Seriously.
I eventually found an agent and sold my self-published book to Penguin. Then things got really hard because my publisher, editor, and agent quit the publishing industry the week my book was released. It's a long, sordid, shame-shit-storm story that's the focus of an entire chapter in Wholehearted. But let's get back to the illustrations . . .
The self-published book was full of these simple illustrations that I used in the classroom. I forgot about them until this weekend when I was looking for something on my computer.
I thought it might fun to share them on the blog. For the next couple of weeks I'll post an illustration with some thoughts about the topic or an excerpt from I Thought It Was Just Me.
After spending last week with my sister and her new baby, I thought it would be perfect to start the series with this illustration.
It's been a long time since I've navigated the new mom hall of shame, but I remember it well. I just wish I knew then what I know now: We really don't care how and what other mothers are doing when we feel good about what we're doing. However, when we feel unsure or vulnerable or fearful, we judge. And, OMG can we be tough on ourselves and everyone around us.
Research shows that we judge in areas where we fell vulnerable to criticism and shame, and we pick someone who is doing "worse than we are." This is why motherhood and parenting are shame minefields.
The biggest lesson for me? Stop comparing and don't take someone's decision to do it different than me as a criticism of my choices.
I hate that parenting has become a competitive sport. It's tough enough without the eye-rolling, whispers and self-doubt.
I'd love to hear your thoughts!