I am shocked when a friend or peer tells me she’s been mom-shamed by her own kind. How the comments struck right to her heart. How she felt defeated by her decisions. I’ve been the third party in the conversation when they put up their proverbial dukes and defend themselves against a no-longer-present enemy.
“And then she decided to tell me ALL about how she breastfed ‘til 18 months and how it was the BEST experience of her life. Doesn’t she know we used formula??”
“Congratulations if you’re screen free. But I’m not a monster for letting my kid watch Daniel Tiger while I get some dishes done.”
“She actually LEFT the party, didn’t even let the kid have cake. All because she only lets them eat organic, or whatever.”
So despite endless screw-ups, an overly lax attitude towards safety, and some decisions I never want to have to make again, how come I’ve never felt judged by another mom?
I’ll tell you why – because it’s not about them. It’s about me.
It’s about how I process reactions to my choices or actions in such a way that I don’t take on the burden of judgment. Because you know what? That is exhausting. By feeling people’s words as an attack, whether they were intentionally harmful or not, I would be vulnerable to second-guessing how I mother. I’d be opening myself up to the spinning wheels of “what if” and “how come” when the best way to break free of that burden is to make a decision, and OWN IT.
Wanna feel the same freedom? Start there. Start by doing whatever background research you need to do. Read books, blogs, ask friends, ask your mom, whatever. Then, LISTEN TO YOUR GUT. Come to a conclusion, and stick to your guns. This doesn’t mean you can’t pivot when something doesn’t work. This doesn’t mean you can’t toss your kid a pack of Goldfish even though they’ve refused meals for the last 3 days, or let the big kid back into your bed even though you drew the line at kindergarten. It just means that when you’ve figured out what is right for your family, don’t let anyone else’s input make you waver. When you waver, you open yourself up to feeling the judgment.
Looking back, I can come up with just a couple of instances where someone spoke up about the way I chose to parent. In all cases, it was a stranger. Know whose opinion really doesn’t matter? A stranger’s. Unless they’re the kind of strangers who hold your baby on an airplane while you run to pee, they aren’t the kinds who are worth your time. Laugh, smile, thank them for their advice, and move on. Tell a friend about the incident if you really need to get it off your chest, but then let it go. Resist the urge to leave your cart in the blind spot of their car, because I KNOW you were at a store when you had to listen to their crap. I swear 92% of all judgy stranger incidents occur within 25 feet of the grocery store or Target. Someone check the stats on that.
I’m not suggesting we become soulless robots who feel no feels and force down emotions in an effort to appear stoic. No. I’m just saying we should consider how we filter people’s words through our brains. How we can take advice into consideration, but let anything negative be expunged. Color me crazy, but I really do believe the majority are just trying to help. Maybe their delivery is bad, maybe you’re already unsure about something, but you don’t have to let it get to you. Take charge of the narrative, and make it an opportunity to pat yourself on the back and reinforce your confidence in your choices. Make it about you, and not about them.
If you came here looking for a “How To Be Perfect” list, let me redirect you to hundreds of other blog posts that would be happy to tell you how to be a better mother. But why bother? That sounds like so much work. I’m all about cutting corners and acknowledging what a fantastic mother you already are is way easier than trying hard at a bunch of other stuff. Thanks to the subtle art of not giving a hoot, I’ve been judgment-free since 2012. Try it. You’ll like it.