It’s been kind of a crazy week.
It was “Nurse Appreciation Week” and “Teacher Appreciation Week” and also, the controversial “Dear Mom on Her iPhone” post was circulating again. And, well, it’s almost Mother’s Day too. So there’s been a lot of mommy judging going on. And general judging.
I saw a meme that said “Yes, we do make bets on when your doula will leave, your birth plan will go out the window, and you’ll beg for an epidural. Happy Nurses Week!”
I don’t have time to respond to all that nonsense individually. There isn’t time. I did already write “Dear Everyone, Stop Judging Moms on Their Phones.” That, thankfully, seems to have struck a chord this week also. Moms need that message, and I encourage you to read it if you haven’t yet.
The best response I can give you to all of this is simply this: I don’t mock other moms at all (anymore). I encourage you to do the same.
I have to be honest: I used to mock other moms. Haven’t we all?
I feel really strongly about the choices I’ve made for my family. And I feel passionate about teaching others about some of those choices, especially the ones that are a little less common, which moms may not know they have. And yeah, sometimes I used to wonder why other moms weren’t as enlightened as I was, or why they would do “that” to their children. I even sometimes struck out of a place of hurt and feeling misunderstood — ‘alternative’ mamas aren’t always treated very nicely and by speaking ill of others I was trying to make myself feel better.
One of the most memorable times when I mocked other moms was when I had been called every name in the book for my stance on vaccination (which is, we choose not to). I was feeling so hurt that I got into a (public) conversation with some friends about it, and I said that mamas who vaccinate are abusing their children. I got into a big fight with other mamas and lost several Facebook friends over it. It’s not something I ever should have said, and not something I even really believed — I was just feeling hurt.
There have been plenty of other times that I’ve (privately) mocked moms who chose not to breastfeed, who chose hospital/medicated birth, who choose to vaccinate fully, who chose public school, who let their kids eat junk food, who were too strict about organic food, who let their kids run wild, who watched their kids too closely, who were sharp with their children, who were too “cutesy” and perfect with their children, who were too slovenly, who were too perfectly put-together, who…
You get the idea.
It was born of a feeling of being judged. Out of insecurity. Out of sheer exhaustion over all the decisions that I have to make as a parent. Am I making the right ones? Is she (mom-who-is-near-me) making better ones than I am? It’s easier to feel that I’m right and I’m not totally screwing up this mom thing if I can find a reason to put other mothers down.
But I don’t do it anymore.
Don’t Mock Other Moms
I think we all feel that way — like somehow other mamas might be better than we are, and we need to find reasons why we’re not screwing it up. And in some cases, we just plain feel passionate about a particular issue and we get caught up in it and wonder why others can’t see the truth that we know.
The thing is, regardless of our motivation, there’s no excuse for mocking other mamas.
When we’re mocking others, we’re caught up in how we feel. We forget how they feel. We forget that they are real, valuable people who have real feelings. We forget that they have complicated lives and complicated reasons for the decisions that they make. We forget that the snapshot we see is only a tiny bit of their lives and we can’t know what role it plays — whether it’s the norm or a very unusual day indeed.
As we walk through our own days, we’re aware of when we feel on top of things, and when we feel like we’re drowning. We’re aware when we feel peace over a decision and when we’re in turmoil because we have no idea.
Other mamas have those same feelings.
Mocking people, therefore, belittles and ignores those feelings. It reduces others to a single belief or experience. It ignores what a rich personality they have, what a valuable person they really are. And you may not agree with them and you may never be friends. That doesn’t matter.
It really just comes down to the Golden Rule: Do Unto Others As You Would Have Done to You.
Do you want to be mocked for breastfeeding (or formula feeding)? For choosing to homeschool (or send your kids to public school)? For trying out infant potty training (or having a child who isn’t quite there yet at age 4)?
I can’t imagine anyone would ever want to be mocked, for any of their decisions, their failings, or their situations. Return the favor — don’t mock others.
Advocacy and Education are Lost in Mockery
I feel very passionate about educating mamas.
I’ll never stop trying to help mamas learn. I’ll never stop helping mamas find the resources they need to do their own research. I’ll never stop challenging the accepted ideas and beliefs and sharing alternative information and perspectives.
And I’ll never stop supporting mamas, whatever they choose.
If you honestly want to talk to another mom about something new, or you really wish she had information that you do, then your message must be covered in love and grace. You must believe, at your very core, that she’s doing the best she can and that she loves her child more than anything. You must believe that even if she chooses something you wouldn’t have, she’s doing what is best for her.
When mockery enters the picture, advocacy and education are lost.
We don’t learn from those who mock us. We don’t trust them, we don’t take them seriously. And that’s true even if we’re just “blowing off steam.” We can’t sit and say “Gosh, these women will never get how important breastfeeding is. [insert insult about women who don’t breastfeed.]” We can’t ever feel that way, and we can certainly never say it.
(And yeah — there are days that advocacy is frustrating. Be frustrated with the situation. Be frustrated that mamas don’t have access to good information. Be frustrated that mamas don’t have the support they need. Be frustrated about those who would try to stop your advocacy. Don’t be frustrated about the mamas who don’t know.)
To help others, we have to trust them and they have to trust us.
Over the next few weeks, we’re making some changes here. Our goal will be to bring you more help, more support, and more knowledge. We’ll be providing more research-based articles, and opening up more discussion surrounding important issues. We want to be here for you, as you examine all sides and make the decision that is right for your family.
A Message of Understanding
Let’s change the world, one mama at a time.
Be confident in who you are. Be confident in what you do. You’re beautiful and wonderful, just as you are. You are not perfect and never will be, but you’re doing your best. Your family loves and appreciates you, even if they don’t say it. You’re a valuable person.
Believe this about everyone you meet.
Offer mamas help. Offer a smile, a kind word. Offer understanding.
You won’t be perfect still. You’ll have a bad day, snap at someone, you’ll mock someone’s parenting (hopefully privately, at least). We all have those days occasionally. But dust yourself off and remind yourself how good the world is and try again. Apologize to anyone you may have hurt. Carry on.
This Mother’s Day, love on yourself and other mothers. Quit the judging and the mocking and just celebrate mamas. Whether you’re old, young, fat, thin, short, tall, black, white, natural, mainstream, married, single, or — whatever you are! You’re a mama, and you’re worth it. 🙂
How do you feel about mama judging?