When was the first time you were judged as a mom? Do you remember?
Was it when you discovered you were pregnant and said; “I’m going to try my best to quit smoking as fast as I can”?
Or how about when you announced that you were pregnant and everyone said… “oh, wow… again?? Another one?? How… nice…”
Was it when you shared your list of baby names and your favorites made people roll their eyes, giggle condescendingly or even reply, “oh honey, you can’t name your baby THAT,they’ll be made fun of and no one will know how to spell it!!”?
Was it the wrinkled nose and look of confusion you were given when you told someone your theme for the nursery or your colors for crib bedding, that you wanted a round crib instead of a rectangle, or told someone that you planned to decorate/paint the room yourself? ( I was repeatedly told, by MANY MANY PEOPLE… “well, I’ll believe it when I see it.. you don’t have time or energy for that.. maybe you should scale back your ideas and just do something more simple”.)
Or maybe it was something more serious like when you told someone you were going to deny the right to genetic testing, or possibly when you decided not to have as many “routine” sonograms as the average person, maybe you decided to opt out for the glucose testing or try for natural childbirth or Hypnobabies instead of getting an epidural, or home birth instead of hospital, choosing breastfeeding instead of bottles (or even the opposite!)… were you judged then? How about when you dared to eat sushi because your doctor told you it was okay, or you were brave enough to drink a pint of Guinness in your 3rd trimester as many, many doctors and midwives recommend all across the globe.
Maybe it was your level of fitness or that you are active, maybe a runner or you do crossfit and were told you were endangering the baby by continuing to work out.
How about your opinion of vaccinations or public school vs. home school?
Did you receive any of the following utterances when talking about your parenting opinions that stung just a bit and you wondered if you were actually being judged or if maybe you were just being “too sensitive”? Maybe you were even told, “oh this doesn’t bother you THAT much, you’re just hormonal”.
“mmhmm…(eye roll or eyebrow raise)”
“well that’s… interesting…”
“This MUST be your first, right?”
“Let me guess, you are reading all those pregnancy books?”
“You know reading those is a waste of time because they’re always wrong anyway”
“I guess… if that’s what you want…”
“That’s so cute that you worry, I’m sure you won’t care as much when they’re older or once you have another”
“My, aren’t YOU ambitious!”
“You’re such a YOUNG mom… you will change your mind after you’ve had experience, don’t worry”
“You only have one and you think you are tired?? Wait till you have THREE- you have NO excuse!”
Let me answer this for you.
Yes. You were being judged. For all of those things. Even if you didn’t know it, somewhere in the background, or possibly someone right in front of you… was secretly (and for some of us unfortunately NOT so secretly) judging you and disagreeing with your choices. Maybe they weren’t doing it out loud and maybe you never even knew it, but trust me- it was happening.
Why do I know this?
Well, now to answer that question, let me ask you some more questions.
Have you ever, before OR after you had children…
Wanted to speak to/yell at a parent that seems to deliberately have no clue?
Had a time when you saw a parent doing something that you JUST read about being dangerous or damaging in some way and had to bite your tongue as your first impulse was to share with them that you learned it was bad to do whatever they were doing?
Said to yourself, “this is none of my business, it’s none of my business” like a mantra, taking a deep breath and walking the other way as a parent did something “questionable” ? (like handing their toddler a soda or a candy bar at the park or a party)
Wanted to correct someone’s parenting in a public place such as a waiting room, passing them in the grocery store or walking down the street?
Ever worried for another child’s well being after listening to the nasty way they are being spoken to by their parent as they are rushed to the car with a hard grip on the arm after leaving a store because someone wasn’t following directions?
Ever shook your head in shame, questioning what kind of terrible adult a child might become because of a parent’s lack of, or questionable parenting?
Saw a mom at the grocery store with a cart full of junk food and babies and your first thought is “wow, that’s sad”?
Spent the day with someone and their children, then went home to tell your husband/partner/friends all about how your friend does things with their kids you would NEVER do?
Raised an eyebrow on a pregnant woman buying alcohol at the grocery store?
Automatically judged a mom as superficial because they had a fancy diaper bag or a really nice stroller?
I’m pretty sure you have. Maybe not maliciously, but you know you have.
The reason I know you have felt judged is the same reason I know you can answer “yes” to at least ONE of these questions. In fact, there are many millions of scenarios I could have written here, because it happens so often- I had to stop myself. In fact, if I were to write down every scenario in which I KNOW I had been judged by someone, let’s just say if it were published, it would rival the likes of War and Peace on the shelf.
We are a culture of judgement and moms I’m afraid, are probably the worst offenders. We are living with these monsters of judgement inside us and even the best of us don’t always do the best we can to keep the cages locked. We tend to believe that because we think we know what works for our families, we have the secret to success and anyone who does things differently is missing the mark, putting their children at risk and we absolutely MUST tell them for the sake of their children.
We watch programs like “What Not To Wear” and read columnists like Perez Hilton, idolize characters in TV shows like Desperate Housewives, 30 Rock, Revenge or Cougar Town, fill our heads with this perspective of superiority and allowance for judgement and then we go outside with a clouded version of the world surrounding us and we actually believe that behavior is acceptable. It’s FUNNY and cute, even sexy to be snarky and sassy. It’s considered alluring and mysterious to stand aloof and superior to those around us and it gives people a rush of power. What we are not considering, is that when it’s a MOM doing this, all it does is teach cruelty. It breeds meanness in our children- creating entitled, snobby brats who look down on their peers just as their parents look down on other parents AND their children. We are breeding generations of mean people and then wondering why bullying is such a problem!
Sure, it’s pretty common, human behavior to draw comparisons. We have a strange way of seeing the world that somehow naturally pits us against our neighbors. We judge our own performance based on the performance and mistakes of those around us. Our obsession with judging others is also seen in our “comedy” TV shows devoted to watching people make mistakes and hurting themselves, or winning money for getting the most laughs for our mistakes. There is a show about how stupid people kill themselves, winning them the “Darwin Award” and another that showcases the bad decisions people make and the pain those decisions cause- and we watch this as entertainment. The skeptics say, “oh it’s harmless fun- it’s just TV!” But is it? The mean, snarky comments and biting at one another on the playground like a pack of starving dogs after a steak is perpetuated by all these things and has created generations of people who believe it is acceptable to treat one another this way.
I have yet to meet a single woman who hasn’t felt the sting of judgement for a choice she has made with regards to her parenting. That being said, I have yet to meet a single woman who has not judged another for the same thing.
The reality is that it hurts our society and causes rifts in the human community- most especially the parenting circle, when we should be banding together. So many mothers (and fathers) get trapped by this lifestyle of judgement, they feel justified and superior with no concern for others and somehow even find comfort in causing others pain. Hearing a grown woman talking trash to her friends about a 5 year old’s outfit in front of her own children is truly one of the most disgusting displays of this truth I have ever been witness to, and yet it happens all the time because after a while, they can’t see outside their tiny world to realize there is anything wrong with their behavior. Everyone around them is doing it, so it becomes common. A lifestyle, a culture even- only strange to those who grew up with compassion instead of hate and those people are typically considered weak.
The first time I ventured into a park with my baby by myself, I was hoping to find other moms to connect with because I was lonely. I left a career surrounded by friends to raise a baby and I was happy to do it, but I was sad to be alone and I missed my friends, so I thought going to the park would help. I got there and was terribly nervous because I had heard about “mommy judgement” and I wanted to avoid that if I could. I’d dressed casual, but nicer because I was going to a park on the upper side of town. Liam looked adorable and I made sure to be extra nice and smile at everyone. When I arrived, there were three moms with about 5 children between them, all friends, probably around my age, maybe a little younger. They seemed nice as they looked in my direction, so I kept walking forward and said hello as I put my baby into a swing. One mom completely ignored me and walked away. One mom politely smiled and sort of “huffed/snorted to herself” at the same time then started talking to her child and the other just pretended she didn’t see me there. I was disappointed, but I kept on because the baby was having a blast.
I heard them talking to one another about how some friend of theirs was pregnant and about to choose the baby’s name. They were bickering back and forth and being all “hen house” about it. One said, “can you BELIEVE she had the nerve to name him Brayden?? I mean… that was going to be MY son’s name, but just because I had a daughter she took MY NAME and didn’t even ask! I told her that was MY name and we will be trying again this year! I’m so disappointed, now I have to find a new name!” Another mom said, “well what are you going to do? Not talk to her anymore for sure, right?” She replied, “well obviously. She has no respect at all and besides, she’s a weird mom anyway.” So they were willing to abandon a friend because she was “a weird mom” and because she had decided to name her baby a name that her friend who didn’t even have a boy had “claimed”?
“Interesting…” I thought, “wow, so these people really do exist…”
I caught them looking at me several times, judging my clothes and my hair, my stroller which was a Chicco brand and not as fancy as their “Phil & Ted”, or their “Peg Perego” and my diaper bag got a few raised eyebrows too, because sitting next to their Petunia Petal Bottoms and Eddie Bowers, my amazingly convenient, light and easy to carry and organize military ammo bag just looked… strange. One even moved her bag about a foot away from mine… I guess she didn’t want my bag to get the wrong impression and think it had a new friend. None of them ever said a word directly to me, they spoke to their children about being polite and careful around “the baby” meaning, my son, and they were super respectful of him, even cooing over him a little then smiling sharply at me as if to say, “see?? I’m being polite!!” but NONE said a single word directly to me or looked me in the eye even once and I was there for over an hour before they left. It was almost a year before I was willing to bother going to the park again.
The modern parent culture seems to delight in judging others in a constant comparison war. Instead of giving ourselves a break, allowing ourselves to focus on our own processes and what works best for our OWN families, we judge ourselves against our peers and make decisions based on what we see in THEIR families, feeling like we come up short. Then, we take those comparisons, those self-judgments- and we go out into the world , picking apart what others are doing wrong so we feel better to gain some kind of validation for our own processes. It creates a situation where people actually delight in seeing others fail! It’s not rocket science, it’s just human psychology. We feel better about our shortcomings when we see others have the same ones or worse ones than we do and it’s a relief when you are always trying to do more, to know that someone else doesn’t and that we at least, don’t do THAT. I mean, how many have you heard or said, “whew! I thought I was the only one!” The truth is, we like to know others fail. If we didn’t, magazines and shows like TMZ that showcase airbrushed celebrities in their sloppy clothes with no make-up and cellulite at the beach wouldn’t be so wildly popular.
I like to think people who are that indulgent with their judgement of others are really just dealing with a terrible case of low self-esteem rather than a true belief of one’s superiority. It helps me to have compassion for them if I believe this. Unfortunately, the reality is some people are just snobby brats who hate anyone that intrudes on their personal space if they think the other person is “less than” them because they probably learned it from their own parents. Don’t believe me? Try walking onto a snotty upper-class, suburban school yard wearing clothes from Wal-Mart and see how many friends you make. Not many, trust me.
Well, I’m going to be the one on the playground to raise my hand and remind everyone that this is not okay. If you judge my kid, or judge me, act like a snarky, snotty brat with ZERO information about my life or situation, I WILL call you on it. I will embarrass you in front of all your fancy sun-glass wearing, perfect hair at 8am because-I-have-a-nanny-to-dress-my-children-for-me friends. (which of course they probably don’t, but that’s the judgement we pass on them because NO ONE can look that put together with multiple children by 7:30am unless someone is doing their job for them, right??) That’s about how fed up with this I am. I’m tired of being judged and I’m tired of hearing my friends hurting because the world seems to have stopped developing after the 8th grade and it’s like a damn high school special out there for parents who are just trying to do the best they can for their kids.
Whatever the reason or cause, I can tell you that from the moment I became pregnant, I learned a very harsh and valuable lesson. Probably one of the most important ones I’ve learned so far as a parent and I’m sorry, but there is just no nicer way to say it.
The average mom is kind of a bitch.
She is a judgmental, holier-than-thou, nasty “Heathers” club wanna-be that thinks she knows better than you, looks better doing it and can mother circles around you from the moment she lays eyes on you. Every topic under the sun from the way you dress your child in the morning, to the way you put them to bed at night and every moment in between from pre-conception till the child is grown and on their own, she thinks she can do it better.
Picture this; A quiet afternoon at the local park. Happy children playing, laughing, running and parents attentively watching, playing with them and being engaged with their families on a brilliant, sunny day. Seems ideal, right? Here’s the silent storm beneath that picture-perfect image…
While you’re silently judging that mom who just handed a piece of candy to their 6 year old on the playground making every other child jealous thinking, dang it now I have to explain to my kid why he can’t have candy, you can bet she’s not overlooked the fact that you just popped a bottle in your new baby’s mouth instead of breast feeding, assuming it’s because you must not want to or you are too selfish to do it. The mom across the way with her Petunia Petal Bottom bag and her BOB stroller with twin boys and matching fancy shirts, playing war games pretending to shoot each other, is eyeballing another mom’s choice of low-cost shoes for her 2 year old (because, you know… proper spinal alignment with hard soled shoes is just impossible and if she wanted healthy children, she’d spend a little more and buy the Pedipeds) and her $15 Dora umbrella stroller from Wal-Mart thinking, “I’m so lucky I can afford to give my babies better things, that mom obviously doesn’t have a committed attitude toward making sure her baby has the best of everything”, while a dad is helping his 4 year old down a slide, he is watching those twin boys and how violent they are- blaming the mom for absent parenting and assuming they’ve got a bad dad, because clearly, they’re being exposed to things they shouldn’t be and there must not be any discipline at home- which is probably why they have such nice things, to make up for the fact that dad is never around and obviously his job is more important. The grandma pushing her grandson on the swings is eyeballing the mom with no wedding ring, assuming she’s an irresponsible single mother and feeling bad for that poor baby who has to “endure” a life of a broken home… she probably isn’t even “saved”.
Yay, for today’s park special; Judgement all around with a side order of guilt!
Think you’re exempt because you parent “main stream”, you buy your children name brands so they won’t get made fun of and you always make sure they look nice? Heh… guess again, normal mom. Or, maybe you think you’re above the judgement because you’re an “alternative parent” and you have lots of references and scientific data to support your choices? LOL sorry, bookworm… Think no one judges you because your kids are well behaved or that people seem to like them when you are out in public? No such luck, mama. You assume people aren’t judging you because you always get a lot of “likes” on your photos posted to Facebook, or because you were married BEFORE you had kids, or because you genuinely respect everyone else’s parenting and just want to get along? Oh, don’t I wish that were true!
Before I had children, I assumed the hurdle was going to be the people who didn’t have kids. The ones who call us “breeders” who are content to sit in their couples-only lives, looking down on everyone who has children because we’re tied down and strapped to screaming, festering, fluid excreting little monsters. I expected the childless ones to be mean because I was actually WARNED about them and I’d seen it in my friends who didn’t have children.
There is the saying “I was a better parent before I had kids” and it really is true- before you actually HAVE children, you have no clue what it’s really like. All the books in the world, all the babysitting in the universe, nor a BILLION nieces and nephews, NOTHING can prepare you for the relationship you create with your own child. I understand that when you don’t have any children of your own, you simply cannot understand or truly empathize, so you think it all makes sense and it does!
Y’know, just like Communism makes sense…
There are some incredible, rare gems- women who bind one another together, sharing their differences as stones in a colorful crown of motherhood. These amazing women are the glue that can hold together women of different perspectives and help to ease our differences with love and compassion. Unfortunately, these mighty oaks are few and far between and while I do my best to BE one of them, even I fall short sometimes. People are mean to me first and it puts me on the defensive. Sometimes, I feel bad for a baby who’s mother has chosen to be selfish instead of doing what is best for them and it makes me sad and that sadness turns into judgement. Is that RIGHT? No. Do I admit it? Yep. The problem is, most people don’t admit it, they’ll just act superior for no reason and try to hurt one another through a passive-aggressive display reminiscent of a child’s game of dodge ball, keep-away and red rover all in one. I’m not saying I’m above it. I’m saying I know it’s wrong and I fight every day to help support women and their right to be the mothers they want to be, whatever that looks like, even if I would not choose that life for myself. Part of the fallacy of today’s culture of “everyone has to be nice to everyone else”, is that we are forced to LIKE what others do, or else we’re just the big bullies on the playground. That’s not what it’s about though. NO one is saying we have to LIKE another’s choices, but we do have an obligation to respect that they are not OUR choices to make or to like in the first place. It’s about our right to do our own thing and to be respected for it. To be given the benefit of the doubt by our peers that we might have a good reason for our choices or that there may be a story behind what someone is seeing that they are not privy to.
The reality is, everyone is different, every child is unique and reacts differently to any given situation. That is what makes reading books or judging parenting based on how you babysit your nephew is NOT a good way to understand how to actually parent your children or how your family member or friend parents their own children. There is no one, right way, no cookie cutter solution that works for every human. Just because you take a few childcare courses or work in a daycare, does not mean you understand what it is to parent MY children (and yet- every social worker who doesn’t have babies will tell you exactly what you are doing wrong because, well… the BOOK says so and science says so, too!). So, yeah… before kids, everyone is an amazing parent who will NEVER let THEIR kid do those awful things that terrible mom in the grocery store allowed their evil children to do!
Riiiiiiiight….. good luck with that. Come back and have that conversation after your child turns four and I DARE you not to be able to sympathize with that poor mom struggling to keep the toddler in the cart.
So, the truth is, it doesn’t matter whether or not someone had kids of their own- they’ll all judge you. Moms, dads, grandparents, friends, random strangers, everyone. The moment they’re a smidge annoyed with anything your child does, they begin to analyse and review everything they know about you and they begin to imagine they know how you think, why you made the choices you must have made that created the behavior they’re seeing. It couldn’t possibly be that the child is a toddler and that just comes with it’s own healthy measure of insanity because that is its nature while the growing mind deals with obstacles and problem solving, no- it’s because you’re doing something wrong.
Case in point; A dear friend of mine who is about to have his first baby, looked at my crazy two year old who was struggling to relax while waiting to be seated in a restaurant and was amazed at his “energy”, he said in the most polite voice he could muster, (In reality, what he was actually saying was, holy crap can’t you control your kid?!) to which my husband says, “well, he’s two… it just comes with the territory” a statement that was then reiterated by my friend’s wife and I as sort of a matter of fact. A sudden shocked look crosses his face and he says, “wait, you mean this is every two year old, it’s not just him?” He was genuinely serious and concerned. I couldn’t help but laugh for a moment, but at the same time, I felt bad for him. He is in for such a wake up call and I don’t know what I can do to help him because he is such an analytically minded person, I doubt very much he’d trust my more “touchy feely” methods, even though I’ve got a degree in psychology.
His dear wife, such a hero, LOL… (who has a teenager already) just takes it in stride and knows that her role will be to parent to a newborn and educate her husband on how to deal with a newborn because he really has no clue. (Apparently the conversation of “well we won’t have those problems because our kid will just sleep through the night” has actually happened in her house and while she laughs, he seems genuinely set on that just being the way things will be. I LOL’d mightily at this)
This is not uncommon by any means and does worry me a bit for them, simply because he is in for such a shock, but he is an amazing person and a good man, so I don’t doubt that he will understand as he experiences this for himself. I trust that he will adapt, learn to adjust and accommodate for his child’s needs. For now, however, I know he judges me, my children and my parenting because he doesn’t know, and that’s okay. I don’t take offense, because he doesn’t understand. He will, and he’ll find a system that works for his family.
I think in most cases, people genuinely do want to do the right thing by their children, and they come up with solutions to make home a happy place. I say MOST cases, as I do believe there are specific issues that really do only have one right answer and it’s only misinformed or uneducated (and I mean that as in, not educated on that topic- not saying anyone is stupid) people who don’t know and perpetuate incorrect methods of raising their children out of stubbornness, tradition, or being bullied or shamed into it by family or friends.
Oh come on now, I see you taking in a sharp breath here, ready to fight me on this- but you know I’m right. How many idiot parenting decisions were standard when we were kids? In the 50’s, 60’s & 70’s, people thought it was totally acceptable to let their kids ride in the back of a pick-up truck on a major highway with no seat belts. They didn’t even consider helmets for bike riders, they fed babies corn syrup in bottles to “sooth their tummies” and their babies didn’t HAVE to be strapped into a car seat- ever. In fact, if you wanted them to sit in front, or on your lap to see better or to nurse them while you were on a road trip, there was no issue with that, either. Doctors smoked during surgery and daddy could light up their congratulatory cigars right in the baby wing! It’s not being mean to state a fact, and the fact is- people, parents included and no matter how much we love them, were kinda stupid.
Okay, so does all this have a point, or am I just ranting?
Well here’s the deal, mamas- The bottom line is we are all being judged because we judge. So how do we stop it??
People have too much information and are too quick to question their own choices and research everyone else’s choices on the internet the second they hear about them. I have always believed that if someone is snapping at you because you ask them WHY they made a decision, it’s because they are defensive. If they’re defensive, they are probably questioning their own decision. You asking them to explain themselves puts pressure on them to come up with a justified reason for the choice that they, themselves already feel guilt about. This pushes them to defend their choice so they don’t look or feel stupid. How can we fix this? By trusting our decisions. Trust yourself- if you made the choice, stand by it. Believe in it and act accordingly. Don’t go back and look it up 75 times on the Internet to make SURE you’re doing the right thing. Just know you are and know that if someone comes up and tells you why they do things another way- don’t automatically think they’re judging you… maybe they just really want to share how they do things differently. By LISTENING to people instead of questioning their motives every time they say something, we may actually learn a little.
When another mom who bottle feeds their baby and supplements with formula comes up to you at a party and says, “so… you’re STILL nursing your baby?? Too bad, I’d have made you a cosmo, too- guess you’ll have to wait a few years” with a snarky grin of superiority on their faces… You can smile and say, “YES I am! It’s wonderful and I’m totally okay with not having a drink tonight, thank you anyway!” No anger, no bitterness, no judgement- just the facts, because you believe in what you are saying. Period. Just because they’re full of vinegar doesn’t mean you have to return it. Rise above it, mama.
Same goes for those who bottle feed or formula feed. It’s your right and your choice. No one has to agree or do the same for their children and it’s none of anyone’s business why you made that choice. If you believe in your choice and you KNOW you made the right one, there is no reason for judgement because you don’t have to defend anything. Life simply is the way it is and there is no reason to justify. You don’t HAVE to defend yourself and if anyone makes you feel that way, first make sure you are not making YOURSELF feel that way, and then, compassionately remind yourself that you are a smart and loving mother who has made the best choice you could at the time. Period.
We also need to remember that we don’t know every single detail of someone else’s life story and to assume that we do, then pass judgment on a situation we don’t have all the facts for, is honestly, well… it’s just stupid and can even be cruel.
Another example for you;
A good friend of mine has three boys, one is autistic. He struggles with transition, change and expectations. Meltdowns are a regular part of daily life for her family, anytime something that has always been, is suddenly gone or changed. When that occurs in public, people glare at her, call her names, roll their eyes, look at her and her family in disgust, some even telling her directly to “get that damn kid under control” or to simply, “if you’re not going to parent your child, at least go somewhere else so people don’t have to see your screaming kid”. They don’t understand his needs and they are approaching the situation from a place of vicious judgement. She has done an amazing job advocating for her son and his rights, but that does not take the sting and pain from her heart when she sees people misjudging a situation they don’t understand.
The question then becomes, how can she make them understand and is that even her job? I mean, what is she supposed to do here? Put a sign on her kid as they walk down the street that says, “my child is autistic, please don’t judge his outbursts with hate?” How pathetic of a society we are that the thought would even cross her mind- but it has because of idiots who judge a situation they do not understand based on what they see from the outside.
She worries for her son because of how mean people are and rightfully so. Even parents of other young children will look at her and clearly judge her, they will keep their babies away from her son, worried his “bad attitude” will rub off on their precious, perfect children. This child is very sweet, loving and compassionate and she worries that the judgement she feels and takes the brunt of, will someday be his to bear and when that day comes, it will devastate him and confuse him, that he will lose faith in the world and it could hurt him terribly. All those fears are a very possible reality with the way people treat each other these days.
So why the meanness? Why the hate and bitterness? Why the cruelty to children and to parents with not so much a consideration to find out the back story of an issue?? Is it “ageism”? Maybe. Is it a selfishness and ego problem? Maybe. Is it that people forget what it’s like to have toddlers so soon after their babies are past that stage or are SO miserable themselves, that they judge anyone who they perceive as having it “easier” than they did as lazy? I think that’s a possibility, too.
I think it can be one or all of these, and probably more that I’m not thinking of right now but each of these issues- every one of them- has the same root.
It all boils down to a sense of vulnerability and lack of complete self-confidence in ourselves as mothers. We feel the need to show others, people we don’t even know, that we know better than them or at LEAST as much as they do because being a mom is hard, scary and makes you question everything you thought you knew about yourself and the world. We need people to know that we are not just sitting around on our butts all day drinking coffee and playing video games, that we are actively and creatively engaging our children in educational play, creating happy homes, cooking perfect meals and making excellent decisions every moment of every day to make sure they turn out decent, successful adults.
Every mom worries they are being judged because they judge themselves. Then they turn around and judge others, putting us all on guard around one another because a simple question like, “so how many hours does he sleep through the night?” can turn into a mommy war over who lets their child sleep in a crib vs. a bassinet vs. bed-sharing vs. co-sleeper and who has more success at hours of rest will win- but ONLY if she is doing the best for her baby and not being selfish with her time.
UGH… it’s exhausting just typing it!
Sometimes judgement is a completely passive-aggressive thing that is masked as “you’re so cool” but in real life, they’re just saying you are less than they are. For example;
Mom A- What a cute dress!
Mom B- Oh, thanks… I bought it at Burlington and saved a few bucks.
Mom A- Oh you are so much more patient then me! I never have good luck there, I’m shopping for hours looking at flawed clothing and it’s so hard to find ONE decent outfit- you’re lucky you found something nice, I just don’t have the time to do that, so I spend a little more to save myself the time because I have SOOO many things to do for my family we end up in the drive-thru at least a few times a week. You only have one baby, don’t you?
Mom B- Yes, just one baby so far, but I’d rather take the time to look a little harder at the store and save a few dollars on clothes so I can spend it on organic food when I go shopping. I know it’s easier to spend more, but buying organic is really important to me.
Mom A- Just wait till you have another, THEN you’ll understand how hard parenting really is! You’ll never have time for ANYthing!
So here in this scenario, mom A is justifying why she spends more money to do things conveniently and is blaming it on multiple children. Mom B is having to defend her choices to buy discount clothing and pulling up the organic food issue as her good reason for “wasting time” as the other mom called it. So mom A believes she is better because she buys GOOD clothes. Mom B believes SHE is better because she saves her money and feeds her baby organic food. Each has pitted themselves against one another in a silent mommy war that no one can win and all because each felt their decisions were being threatened and judged.
The worst of the monsters, I’ve found, is not someone with a perfect life, it’s someone who knows she is as imperfect as everyone else and is terrified of what others will think of her if anyone found out. The saddest part of all, is that we are each uniquely flawed and beautiful and make great and horrible choices. We each do what we think is right, which we may learn later, wasn’t the best choice possible. We don’t lift one another up or celebrate what we DO do well, we tear each other down to make our own poor choices seem less terrible.
We need to own up to our judgement so we can learn to accept our decisions and be confident in who we are as parents. If we feel threatened by someone else who might be doing it better- suck it up and do better- but stop trying to convince people that your decisions are right. Show them by LIVING them and by KNOWING your decisions are right for YOU! Do whatever it takes to feel as confident in your choices as you think they are. Don’t allow someone else’s judgement to rule your roost. It’s YOUR roost. Rule it with confidence and pride and allow other moms the same right.
But what about those mean girls? How do we handle them, their snide remarks, their apathetic raised eyebrow at the uncontrollable meltdown or the annoyed sighs of being inconvenienced by a child’s innocent behavior? What do we do with the judgy breast-feeders who scold you with their glances of disgust at your bottles or the “career moms” who laugh at your extended breastfeeding toddler and how you wasted your life away? How can we reconcile how mean they are, how biting they are? How can we show them that we don’t care?
Well first, we have to actually NOT CARE. We do that by knowing our choices are solid, correct for OUR FAMILY and our lives. Then second…
Just love them. However hard that may seem…
Love on them hard, lay it on thick and mean every single moment of it, no matter how difficult it is, no matter how nasty and horrible they are. Tell them what they are doing right. What you see that they do well. Ask them how they do it, tell them you support them. End the guilt by ending the silence. Bring nothing but love with you to a guilt war and everyone will win.