As a grown-ass woman, I feel confident saying Iw as pretty prepared for motherhood. I read the books and I did the research and I joined online forums and I asked my mom (and every other mom I knew) endless questions. Honestly, and for the most part, I was ready. I knew what I needed to do to keep my newborn alive and healthy and safe. What I wasn't prepared for, however, was the judgment that comes along with parenthood. Yikes. Thankfully, it didn't take me long to learn the things every grown-ass mom does when another mom judges her; things that can give a mom some much needed perspective and understanding when you're on the receiving end of a few raised eyebrows and subtle head shakes.
I'd like to to tell you that it's super easy to deal with someone else's judgment, but that would be a lie. As human beings we're conditioned to seek out a community and validation and feel connected to, you know, other human beings. So, when those human beings essentially hurt our feelings, we're affected. You want to feel like you're part of a larger collective and you want to feel understood and supported and when you don't, you get bummed out (for lack of a better word). At least, I do. I know that I like — and usually do — pretend that shame and judgment don't bother me, but they take their toll and they make me sad and they can fill me with self-doubt that, in the end, is totally unnecessary.
However, as a grown-ass woman I know there's a right way and a wrong way to deal with judgment and shame. Someone else's judgment might be unavoidable, but how we respond to that judgment is entirely in our control. So, if you fancy yourself a grown-ass mom, here's how I'm guessing you deal with potential judgment and shame.
She Remembers That She's Judged Other Moms, Too
It's easy to point fingers, but it's important to stop and wonder if you've put someone in a position that required a little finger pointing in your direction, too.
I've been judged by mothers both publicly and privately, but I've also done my fair share of judging. Is that easy or comfortable to admit? Nope. However, it's important to remember so I don't try to climb up on a high horse I have no business being on.
She Realizes That Judgment Usually Stems From Self-Doubt
Our culture is pretty sh*tty to moms, to be honest. The expectations placed on the shoulders of already exhausted mothers are outrageous, so feeling like you have to be "perfect" is palpable and hard to avoid. At the end of the day, every mom just wants to feel like she's being the best mom she can possibly be. Sometimes it's hard to feel that way, however, when you watch someone making different choices than you do.
And, of course, sometimes it's easy to side-step self-doubt by changing the conversation entirely, and making it about someone else. If someone is putting you down by judging you or shaming you, I'd venture to guess it's because — in the end— they're in need of a little boost. Does that make it right? Absolutely not. However, sometimes it's nice to know why someone seems hellbent on being judgmental.
She Knows That Every Mom Just Wants To Feel Validated In Her Own Choices
That unnecessary pressure and those high expectations are why every mom just wants to feel validated in her choices. I don't know about you, dear reader, but I definitely feel better when someone compliments my parenting or tells me I'm doing a good job or simply asks me for advice, because they think my parenting style is one they could use, too. That's an amazing feeling, right?
Well, that feeling is difficult to harness when you watch someone doing something differently than you, and doing it well. I know that whenever I find myself judging another mom it's because I'm really and truly just afraid she's a better mom than I am, and I'm terrified that I'm failing in all the ways she seems to be effortlessly succeeding.
She Takes A Step Back And Evaluates Her Choices...
Is being judged fun? Nope. It's kind of the worst, especially when the thing you're being judged on is as important and personal as parenthood. However, you can also learn from some people's judgments.
For example, a mom friend judged me on social media for letting friends know that my then-baby boy and my family cat weren't getting along, and we were contemplating whether or not we should find our cat another home. She attacked me with memes and status updates, calling me a "helicopter parent" and a bad pet owner and saying that I might as well put my kid in a bubble. While I didn't appreciate any of that, whatsoever, and she definitely could have simply talked to me or shared some of her hard-earned wisdom instead of shame me, I did look into alternatives and found ways to help facilitate a better relationship between my son and our cat. Now our 2-year-old toddler and our family cat are the best of friends. Was her judgment warranted or at all necessary? Nope. However, it did give me the opportunity to look somewhere else for advice (like friends who don't judge and shame me on the internet.)
...And, If She Can, She Learns From Another Mom's Judgment
Not only have I learned about some parenting alternatives because of a few moms' judgements, but I've also learned what not to do. I mean, there's really no better teacher than experience.
I'll never forget how I was made to feel when my friend (who I trusted) so callously judged me in front of mutual friends. While it just plain sucked, it was also a poignant reminder that even when something is important to you and you're passionate about a specific topic, judgment and shame don't do anyone any good. They don't make your point easier to understand and digest, they don't make you look like someone that can be trusted or confided in, and they don't make the person you're judging feel great. At all.
She Reminds Herself That She Knows Her Baby Better Than Anyone Else
No matter how "seasoned" or knowledgable someone believes themselves to be, they don't know your baby like you do. They don't know your family the way you do or the unique situations you all face, both together and separately. A grown-ass woman knows to take someone's judgment with a grain of salt and a smile on their face because, in the end, what do they really know about you, your baby or your life anyway, right?
She Doesn't Let Someone Else's Judgment Affect Her Decision Making Process
Is it good to evaluate your decisions from time to time, and assess whether or not they still make sense as your child (and you) grow and evolve? Of course, and I highly recommend it.
However, don't make someone else's judgment or shame the reason why you're second guessing yourself. In fact, if you can, try not to second guess yourself at all. Taking pause to make sure certain choices are working for you and your family isn't the same as feeling so uncertain that you're afraid of making any sort of decision. Someone else's feelings about your parenting choices have no business being part of any subsequent decisions you may or may not make.
She Reminds Herself That She Has Other People Who Support Her
When I find myself on the receiving end of someone else's judgment, I remember that I have so many people who love me and support me and value the choices I'm making. When in doubt, just focus on your tribe and remind yourself that you'll never make absolutely everyone happy.
She Remembers How It Feels To Be Judged And Thinks About That Feeling When She Feels Herself Judging Someone Else
I'm a flawed human being (so, so flawed) so I know that I'm not above silently judging someone else. However, when I do find myself looking at a mom and thinking anything other than something supportive, I remember what it feels like to be judged. That flashback keeps my judgmental ways in check, and reminds me that instead of judging another mom, I can help her or at least show her some solidarity and remind her that she's not alone.
After all, I know I would much prefer that reaction to someone's shameless judgment.
"When They Go Low, We Go High"
When in doubt, just do whatever Michelle Obama would do. After all, she is and will forever be our collective #GrownAssWomanGoals.