Let me start by admitting: I’m guilty. I have judged my fair share of other mothers in the past. And since I am only human I will probably judge a few more in the future. I’ve been judging them for the way they took care of their health during pregnancy, for not choosing a natural birth when they had a choice, for the kind of toys they bought their children, for not breastfeeding, for letting their babies watch TV, for… so many things.
Writing this down is hard, because this is not the kind of person I want to be. The kind of person I strive to be. Not only do I want to stop judging other mama’s, because I don’t want to be a judgy person. I also need to stop, because I know how it feels to be judged for your parenting choices. We need to stand together as mothers, as women, as humans. Because parenting is hard enough without being undermined, questioned and put down every step of the way.
I realized this when a friend, who is not a mom, came to visit. After dinner I put Isaya to bed and we sat down on the couch for some long overdue girltalk. After half an hour my daughter woke up and absolutely, under no circumstances, no way, wanted to go back to sleep. I tried all my tricks, but I was in a rush because I didn’t want to keep my friend waiting. After a while I just took her downstairs and put her in the sling. I feverishly tried to keep our conversation going, the way I could before I was a mom. I saw my friend sitting on the couch, looking at me. And even though she loves me and I love her, she was judging me for not being able to get my baby to sleep. I don’t blame her; I was judging myself in that moment. But that’s just what it was: a moment! I felt rushed and uncomfortable and Aya felt all that, so no way was she going to fall asleep under these circumstances.
I honestly don’t believe I have all the answers when it comes to taking care of a baby and raising a child. I also have no illusions that my choices are The Best Choices when it comes to parenting. Nor do I have any intentions of preaching my way to other mommy’s, on a quest to convince them to do what I’m doing. I truly believe that as a mom, you are the expert on your child. In my experience showing your vulnerability helps. It takes down the protective walls we put around us, in order not to let all the judgement get to us. If I let my guard down, hopefully so will you. So here are some of the things I have been judged for since I have become a mother.
It started during my pregnancy. When I told people about raising my child TV-free and not wanting to give her plastic toys, they laughed and told me I was denying her things. When Isaya was born, there were some complications. I was able to have a natural birth, but afterwards she had to be admitted. I had to fight the nurses not to give her formula, because I wanted to feed her myself. Still bleeding and exhausted, every conversation in the hospital was a battle about how much time I could spend with her and wanting to feed on demand. I was so relieved when we finally were able to go home.
And then came the meaningful looks, the questions ‘asked a certain way’, the unasked advice and the downright insensitive opinions. I don’t want to let my baby ‘cry it out’. It’s crazy how many times I have had to defend my instincts as a mother on this point! I want to wear my baby in a sling, instead of put her in a pram. Why do people have a problem with this? I wanted to give her pure, organic, vegan food, for at least a year. The undermining, insinuating questions on this point were so hurtful there were times I thought, ‘well I’ll just let it go’. But then I realized I really believe this is in her best interest and I must offer her the best until she is able to think for herself.
From all of this you will get an idea about what kind of mama I am. What my values are, what I deem important, how I raise my baby. I hope you won’t judge me for it. Because it does not mean I don’t appreciate other values, priorities and ideas. It actually helps me a lot to hear other moms’ opinions and thoughts on subjects, as long as they are shared in a respectful way, because it either makes me broaden my horizon as a parent or strengthen me on the path I am on. I truly believe we must help one another: momlife is no piece of cake. But we are also blessed with such a great gift. Our babies bring so much love, beauty and wisdom into our lives. It would be crazy not to share this with other mothers.