I don’t normally post musings, but lately this has been on my mind, particularly when I’m at my son’s playschool at pick up and drop off time. It sometimes feels like a multi-way competition over who manages most with the most gruelling schedule and challenging kids. I have noticed the ‘looks’ (the smiles that don’t meet the eyes, the topic change) when they realise I won’t be jumping through the vicar-hoops to get the boys into a ‘good’ school, and when I won’t give into my son’s demands for attention by pulling on my clothing and whining, (I don’t know where he picked that up from) but this does not mean that I am innocent of being judgemental.
I know that I too mentally roll my eyes and shake my head, as they make rods for their own back by indulging the whinges while out in public, even though I promised myself I wouldn’t turn into the typical school-gate mum (mum-zilla; like bride-zilla but far more scary and overbearing) and after spotting the below post on the Netmums blog I have linked back to my source, I gained at least some comfort that I am not on my own.
It’s stressful enough trying to engage with other mums (without coming across as the bossy/opinionated one), because lets face it, all we really have in common is that our children are roughly the same age (If they went to another school it would only mean other mums so our connections are purely coincidental), why add extra pressure of trying to out-do the rest? Why do we disapprove, when we often have no desire for the approval of other mums? While I will admit there are occasions when you get on with someone enough to call them a friend and you meet up at times other than the school, it doesn’t happen often and mostly I feel that when I try to chat what I’m really doing is imposing on their space. I have already said, I can tell when I’m being judged but I also know my children and I know what’s best for them. I don’t need to justify every decision concerning any more than they do, and I am sure its the same for other mums, but we still do it.
I might well be stricter than the latest pop-parenting ‘super-nanny’ trends ‘believe’ is necessary (I’m less strict than my parents were with me though), but my boys are happy, clean, well fed, warm, inquisitive and outgoing so I can’t be doing much wrong. I thought I’d left the office-politics well behind me in 2008, but next time you’re at the school gate, look at the faces and listen to what is being said. Office-politics has NOTHING on school-gate politics, precisely because of our own emotional investment in our children and the wrong word can cause some very hurt feelings. It’s just human: we have evolved to care deeply for our children and the thought that we might actually be, however unintentionally, acting out of our own selfish interests rather than our children’s is rather upsetting (it is to me anyway).
Behind me is where the parental-politics shall be staying because as of now I’m going at least try to stop the mental dressing down of the other mums for being indulgent. It’s not fair on them and just because I know I am being judged, it does not mean I have to indulge in it myself. I know how draining it is being the primary carer, and the other mums work every bit as hard as I do to do the best by their children. There is no one right way to do it, it’s a case of finding what works for each of us and rolling with it.
Reblogged from Netmums Blog Of the Week, Posted on February 1, 2012 Blog of the Week (picked from a great selection on our Parent Bloggers Network) is from Katherine who blogs as Mummypinkwellies. Why do mums judge each other? Food for thought.
Being a mum, to me, is the most important role I will ever play in my lifetime. The one job I always wanted to do, and obviously I want to do it right.
However, all mums (and dads for that matter) are thrown in at the deep end. You don’t have lessons at school on how to be a good parent, there’s no manual that shoots out of your birth canal between delivering your baby and your placenta, there’s no safety net training course you must do before you “get the job”! And yet we are overwhelmed by information, usually conflicting, on pretty much everything to do with parenthood.
Some mums, like me, do their research and then choose the way that works best for them. Others “wing it” and do whatever is best at the time and are far more organic in their approach. However, there is one thing it seems that all mothers have alike, and that is that all mums judge. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure there are some perfect mums out there who just get on with their own business and don’t judge others, I had hoped to be one of these. But apparently I am not!
What do mums judge each other for? I think the more appropriate question is what don’t we judge each other for?
Everything from method of feeding – breast or bottle?:
A friend of mine was pregnant, I met up with her and went shopping when she was 8 months gone, she was stocking up on formula. I asked her if she was going to try breastfeeding, she said no, she didn’t want to. I judged her.
To sleep training:
Another friend lets her baby cry himself to sleep every single night, no matter how long it takes. This little boy cries a lot during the day too. I judged her.
To breast feeding length:
Someone I know is still breastfeeding her 2 and a bit year old. I judged her.
To feeding your child “junk food”:
A lady I know regularly gives her 18 month old coca cola and chocolate. I judged her.
To how clean your house is:
Someone is coming round and I do a mad dash tidy and clean so they won’t judge me and my house.
And particularly on the NICU, mums really judged there. I really judged there. It doesn’t make me feel good when I look back at it.
How often different parents were at their child’s cot side.
Method of feeding, who was pumping who wasn’t.
I could go on.
But, what gives me the right to judge? I honestly didn’t think I’d be ‘that’ person, but I find I just can’t help myself. It’s like motherhood is a competition, a competition where the winner is the one that does it right.
Is the reason we judge others because we judge ourselves first? I am always sat thinking “am I doing this right?” “she’s doing it different to me, is her way better?” “I wonder if she thinks I’m doing this all wrong?” I project judgement of myself onto others, when half the time they’re probably really just getting on with their day, or horrors thinking the exact same things in reverse.
But who says what is right anyway? It seems there is no right and wrong way to do this. No one will give a definitive answer on most things, not even the NHS and our beloved Health Visitors. Some things are obvious, giving an 18 month old coca cola to drink can never be a wise move, but other questions such as how do I sleep train my child and how long should I breastfeed for, there are no final answers to. No one seems to know. Most resources say “do what feels right to you” or something along those lines.
We all want to be best at what we do, we constantly compare ourselves, consciously and unconsciously, to all mums we come across. All of our biases come from a need for reassurance. Maybe that’s why we judge then. Because we don’t know the right way to do it and it makes us feel better, in a sick kind of way, when we think we’re doing it right where other mums are doing it wrong.