I didn’t think I was a judgemental person. I always saw the good in people, gave them the benefit of the doubt or said to myself “you don’t know what they are going through so don’t judge their decisions”. I’m pretty awesome, eh?
But somewhere inside me, I seem to have been casting a disapproving eye at the child having a tantrum on the floor in Sainsbury’s, the child who had snot smeared across his face, the child walking around with a dummy in his mouth, the child eating chicken nuggets and waffles for dinner, the child pushing another ‘innocent’ child, etc, etc, etc. I’d rarely verbalise these judgements. I wouldn’t sit with my friend or sister and say, “did you see that child doing xyz, what kind of mother must he have?” So maybe that made me feel like I wasn’t doing it. But, nonetheless, somewhere in my mind I was judging the hell out of the mothers of these children. Interestingly, not the children themselves, but the mothers. Not the fathers. Always the mothers.
It’s taken me stepping into the world of motherhood to open my eyes and acknowledge the subtle judgements I’d been making all these years about others and their parenting methods and choices. More importantly, it’s opened my eyes to the scrutiny we put on mothers and the damage this can do to their self esteem, confidence and parenting abilities at a time that is so developmentally important for this children.
Who made us the judge?
I don’t know if there is any psychological theory behind why we judge others. I’m sure there is and I suspect it stems from our own childhood, our own issues and insecurities or maybe it’s just about giving ourselves a boost knowing we are doing better than someone else – an ego trip?
We spend a lot of time ‘thinking’ don’t we? Thinking about how we would be in a given situation. I think this has a role to play in why we are so sharp and quick to judge someone else. We already have our own ideas on how we think we would be in a given situation, so when we see someone else doing something different, we pounce on it and think they must be wrong, because clearly only we can be right.
Before I became a mum, I had it all sorted. I knew what I was going to do.
Before becoming a mum, I had all these ideas about what kind of mum I’d be – I’d breastfeed, there was no way my baby was having a dummy, I was going to embrace messy eating, I was going to be a chilled out mum and not force my baby into a routine, my baby would be eating balanced colourful meals and nothing beige would be on the menu. I even thought I’d be able to implement controlled crying if she started playing up at bedtime – Supernanny taught me well!
The reality was just so completely and utterly different that it really shocked me and made me question everything I thought I knew about myself. I only breastfed for a few weeks and even that was a struggle. I gave Simran a dummy. I wasn’t as open to the idea of messy eating when I had to contend with cleaning the entire kitchen and floor after every meal. I realised I needed a routine, so that meant Simran needed one too. I do make colourful balanced meals for Simran but sometimes she just doesn’t want them and just wants her go-to food of a cheese sandwich. And no, I wasn’t able to do the whole controlled crying thing either – I now question some of Supernanny’s methods too!
This experience has taught me that you can ‘think’ all you want, but until you ‘live’ something for yourself, you never really know how you will be.
To the mother who gave her child a dummy – I salute you…
P.S. get a dummy strap to save you picking the dummy off the floor every 2 seconds (you’re welcome!)
To the mum who breastfed until her baby was 2 – good for you!
To the mum who chose or had to formula feed – good for you too!
To the mum who’s baby puts themselves to sleep – good job!
To the mum who cuddles her baby to sleep – good job to you too!
To the mum who brings her child in to bed – good job to you too!
To the mum who manages to get her child to eat broccoli – great result!
To the mum who’s happy when her child eats anything as long as they eat (even if it is the beige stuff) – great result too!
To the mum who runs a tight ship and manages to get to places on time – you rock!
To the mum who has given up ever being on time – you rock too!
To the single mum – you are superwoman.
To the working mum – you are superwoman too.
To the stay-at-home-mum – you are superwoman too.
You get the picture right? We don’t have to agree with the choices other mums make. And they don’t need to agree with the choices we make. It’s not a competition. No one is right. No one is wrong. No one is worse. No one is better. We are all doing it right. And that’s because we are all doing what’s right for us and our children given the individual circumstances we are in.
You are a real life superhero with the code name ‘mum’
So mums, lets give each other a break. Let’s stand side by side. Let’s lift each other up instead of bringing one another down. Let’s offer a hand of support rather than a cutting judgement. We are in this together. We are all doing our absolute best.
And finally, to every mum out there, doing it her way, doing the best she can – I take my hat off to you. You are your child’s hero. So keep going. Never give up. And never give up on being you. F*ck what anyone else says!
P.S. To the mum who wishes she knew what she was doing and had her sh*t together like the other mums – I’ll let you in to a secret, none of us really know what we are doing. Some of us are just better at hiding it than others.