I sometimes wonder if anyone has ever done a sociological study on the most judgmental groups of people in our society. Surely mothers would be somewhere near the top of the list. It isn't an inherent thing, of course, but there's something about the way society treats moms that encourages unhealthy competition. Sanctimony replaces understanding and, before you know it, you're writing an article about all the times you've judged other moms and why you should admit it.
In retrospect I must admit that my judgement of mothers started way before I ever became a mother myself. The first mom I judged was, of course, my own. Then I started looking around and judging my friends' moms. Eventually I started meeting moms close to my age and the judgements grew harsher. I wouldn't say anything about it to others, but I definitely had some fairly negative opinions of, and biased assumptions about, these folks who had chosen to keep the species going.
So why all the judgement? I can't honestly give any one specific answer, except that it must be something learned and reinforced by a culture that expects all mothers to be "perfect." So perhaps the best way to begin advocating for and supporting all mothers is by recognizing all the times I've judged them, so that I might better understand then instead.
My first reaction was, “You're going to hurt your baby’s ear drums!” Followed by, “All the other people there will hate you!” Then I realized it's not my call where someone takes their baby. And you know what? My friend's baby never even woke up from his nap, and she gave him tiny ear plugs.
My mother was (and still is, really) an overprotective parent. If anyone could find a reason why an activity could be deemed dangerous or scary or inappropriate, it was her. I used to hate it. I still kind of do, but after losing my daughter and nearly losing my son, I totally get why you would want to protect your babies from all harm and at any cost. I still try to find a balance between overprotective and ultra hands off, though, for my son’s sake.
This judgment reared its ugly head prior to me becoming a mom. I used to have this antiquated notion that you had to change your wardrobe and haircut (and everything else) once you became a mom. Moms didn't dye their hair purple or get tattoos or go dancing or wear knee-high boots, right?
Now I know this is all totally bogus. We can all be cool moms if we very well feel like it.
I won't lie, this still upsets me at times. I go to story time and the playground pretty regularly, and will frequently find a mom (or dad) who is completely focused on their phone while their child runs rampant. Aren't they scared someone will steal their kid? What if their little one gets hurt? Then again, I check my own phone occasionally so who the hell am I to judge?
Also known as Moms Who Appear To Prefer Their Career Over Their Child, Part 1. I always just felt bad for these kids. Wouldn't they develop some abandonment issues? Yeah, I've been judgmental as heck.
Maybe they just need to work. Maybe they want to show their kids what it’s like to work hard and be financially independent. Whatever, who cares?
Also known as Moms Who Appear To Prefer Their Career Over Their Child, Part 2. Except I don't know people's finances. I do recognize that maternity leave here sucks and that many folks depend on two incomes to remain afloat. This could very well be less of a choice and more of a horrible necessity, that puts the mom in danger.
Either way and even if it is a decision the mom makes for herself, why should I judge someone for this?
I know we're all proud of our babies and we all love our babies. However, it can get tiresome to only ever hear about how cute and wonderful and smart your babies are. That said, I don't know what every parent has been through. Some struggled for years with infertility or child loss. For some, finally having a baby is a much bigger deal than you might think.
When I was pregnant with my son, I got involved with a group of very crunchy moms and doulas, many of which were constantly talking about the negatives of vaccines. And with all my Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from my first loss fresh in my mind, I actually almost considered not vaccinating my son, too.
While I do agree that pharmaceutical companies have plenty to gain from the administering of medications in general (because all companies want to sell their products and that’s nothing new), I do not agree that vaccines are horrible, terrible things. I never thought they caused autism (still don’t, because they don't), and I much prefer having a child vaccinated against things like polio and mumps and measles instead of avoiding shots and gambling with their health.
All that said, I know what it’s like to be terrified of everything, to the pint that you're afraid things that should be good for your child might actually turn out to be bad. Simply belittling and berating an anti-vaccine parent is not the right way to go about spreading factual, necessary, and important information. Instead, start a productive conversation. Provide them with good resources on why vaccines are so important and why they can help protect their children. This is an extremely important and delicate situation. Treat it as such.
I’m not talking about spanking or hitting (which I am vehemently against). I'm talking about when a kid is trying to get their mom’s attention and the mom is just visibly worn out and, as a result, maybe shouts a little too loudly at her kid. I used to tell myself I’d never do such a thing, but sometimes you’re exhausted and you've been through some sh*t and you just can't. Plus, as moms and human beings, we're not perfect.
So yeah, it happens, and I don’t judge quite as harshly anymore.
OK, sometimes I side-eye the moms I see giving their kids lollipops and gummy bears and cupcakes to their kid the entire time we’re hanging out. Then again, I think I’ve just lucked out to have a kid who doesn’t really enjoy sweet treats as much as he enjoys savory ones. Plus, I grew up eating Doritos and Little Debbie Cakes. Why the hell should I judge? I don’t know what their kid eats the rest of the time. Ain’t my business either anyway.
This is tough, but it’s a real thing. Just like some dads don’t stick around, some moms also can’t stick around to raise their kids, too. Yes, it may appear entirely selfish (and hell, it could be to some extent). However, you don’t know what’s going on in that person’s mind, or how they even became a mother in the first place. Maybe they suffer from extreme mental health issues that prevent them from being a safe and loving parent. Maybe they’ve experienced abuse, or were forced into giving birth when they really did not want to. The most important thing is that children are raised by people who love and care for them. If a parent, even a mom, cannot provide a safe and loving home, it’s best for everyone that they are not present.