The realm of motherhood is wrought with feisty extremes and high tensions. Let’s face it… it’s a pretty high stakes job. We’re raising entire human beings – populating the world with the next round of assholes (or not.) There are many different paths to walk on this journey but essentially they all lead to the same place…private Facebook Groups, of course. Where we can all argue about breastfeeding, carseats, vaccines, spanking, and who looks best in their yoga pants.
KIDDING. Sort of.
Motherhood is something that we all want to get right. We want to do it to the absolute best of our abilities. So we pursue it with passion and conviction. We decide that spanking is wrong; and therefore any mom who does it… is wrong. It leads to this toxic element within the motherhood community. It’s like we’re all novice pilots and we’re not really sure if we know how to safely land the plane, but we sure know that the next mom over shouldn’t have pulled out of the gate without checking that damn chest clip first! (I’m the carseat mom 😉 )
But there are many lessons to be learned from other moms, no matter which realm of judgy they come from. Whether your hangup is breastfeeding and organic nontoxic baby soap… or carseats and gender roles… you’ve probably been the judgy mom. And you’ve probably been the judged mom.
So whichever side of the coin you’re on…there are some lessons you can learn from judgy moms.
1. Walk with Confidence on the Path that You Choose
Basically, fake it ’til you make it. Moms only judge others when they’re 100% confident that the way that they do things is the right way. And they’re damn ready to let you know it. But I’m here to tell you… I’m three kids deep and there ain’t no “right way.” But the mother that’s judging you is so so sure that she is right. So I say throw caution to the wind and walk with confidence and do what you know is right. That’s all she’s doing anyway.
And when it inevitably comes your time to play the role of the condescending bystander, as we all do, remember that your own shortcomings are many… and walk confidently on with your own perfect children who would never behave in such a manner. 😉 And realize that in that moment you actually felt pretty sure of how great of a mom you are. Now just learn how to feel that way about yourself without requiring comparison.
2. Practice What You Preach
There’s nothing like leading by example. Don’t be a “Do as I Say, Not as I Do” mom. You tell your children to be kind, that everybody is different, to use manners, to help others… basically to be perfect exemplary citizens and members of their community. So what would you have your kids do in this situation?
Manners still apply in motherhood, lest we sometimes forget. Sometimes during our confident strut down our own path (see number one) we forget that not everyone shares that same path. I positively cringe when I see a forward facing one or two year old in their carseat or an infant seat being dangerously misused; but I also understand that there is a time and place and tone for approaching matters as delicate as telling a mother that she is wrong. Publicly shaming a mom in the comments of her facebook photos (when you never even speak to her otherwise) probably won’t render her very receptive to your corrections. Nor is it likely to yield the desired results.
3. Remember that We’re All Doing it Wrong… and Right
It’s so easy to correct others when we’re so sure that we’re right. But I know we all go to sleep at night questioning half of the things we did that day. We know the vast gray area in which our role exists, right and wrong is not so simple here. There are no perfect moms because there is no set model of success. There are no perfect adults, no perfect kids, no perfect moms.
So on any given day, we do a million things wrong. Maybe we wash our kids with the cheap soap, laden with toxic ingredients some blogs assure you will cause cancer. Maybe your kid has never had McDonalds in their life. Maybe you’ve been in a terrible car accident and you rank car seat safety high on your list (ahem, raises hand.) Maybe you’d rather die of polio yourself than expose your children to vaccines (puts hand down.) But at the end of the day neither of us are doctors (I mean, unless you are, a doctor, then I’m not talking to you 😉 ) and we can only make the decisions we find to be best with the information that we have.
We’re all wrong, and we’re all right, all damn day long.
Motherhood is funny in the sense that we all hate the judgy mom and we all are the judgy mom. As with most human interactions I suppose. But also as with most things, there are always lessons to be learned and empathy to be practiced. I think it would serve most of well to recognize just how often we fill each role and remember what it feels like to be on the other side.
Everything in life is a lesson, I suppose. I won’t pretend to be a person free of judgmental thoughts. But I am working on it. Momming is hard enough without being dicks to each other. So I’m working real hard on reining in my inner bitchy mom. Wouldn’t the world be a cool place if all of us did? 😉