Dads don’t judge each other, so why do we?
Last night I got heavily involved in an online debate on an online parenting forum. My opinion on the subject wasn’t relevant… because ultimately I wasn’t getting angry at what the mother had written… I was just amazed at the lack of solidarity among us fellow mums. Wherever you look – from Mummy Blogs and Mags, to Morning TV and Mothering Forums – women are hating on women, mums are putting down other mums. What’s going on?
What’s with the shaming, criticizing, judging and self-righteousness, ladies?
Being a mum is hard work, right? No one could argue with that. So aren’t we all in it together? Aren’t we all expected to make daily choices based on nothing but gut and instinct? Do we, as the child’s mother, not know what is best for them and ultimately ourselves? Surely being the best mother we can be, be it different from the ‘norm’ at times, is the only way we can effectively be a good parent?
In a digital age of 24/7 information at our fingertips it’s too easy to think that there is a right and wrong answer for everything. That there is a Motherhood Exam we didn’t know about, that everyone but us has been revising for. That Government guidelines are the only way to successfully raise children. That the way our friends, mothers, bloggers, forum contributors and millions of Self Help books tell us to do is is the correct way.
Well actually… no!
Children have existed for millions of years and have been brought up in a million different ways, and most people turned out pretty okay. The human race is still here, isn’t it? Except now, all of a sudden us poor mothers are fast losing our instincts and confidence, and it’s only getting worse the more we battle against the way other women choose to raise their offspring.
Mothers have always felt guilty – it’s something every newborn brings with them – but thanks to social media this has now been exasperated to a ridiculous level by the Keyboard Warriors, the Judgy McJudgies and the Perpetually Offended. Some may say avoid going online, I say let’s do what we want and keep our judgement of others to ourselves.
Are you happy with the way you are raising your child? Then fab, well done, just understand that others will be doing it differently to you and that’s fine too!
Breast vs Bottle, Co-sleeping Vs Controlled Crying, Smacking Vs Time Out, Working Mother Vs Stay at Home, Yummy Mummies Vs Scummy Mummies.
Who even gives a fuck?
Aren’t we all just trying our hardest at what works best for our child, our life, our schedule, our means? Wouldn’t motherhood be a much more joyous experience if it didn’t feel like such a bloody competition all the time?
In the article I was reading last night one woman wrote a heart-melting account of her battle to breastfeed and how she had to (for the health of her child and herself) resort to formula feeding. That’s right, that perfectly okay stuff the chemists sell that keeps millions of babies alive around the world and that third world country mothers would kill for as their malnutritioned babies lie in their arms because their breasts have failed them both. This mother hadn’t given her newborn a bottle of vodka… it was formula. Yet the backlash she received for sharing her difficult story was thus:
“Yes, but did you see an IBCLC? Did you drink loads and adjust your diet to eat things like oats and fenugreek? Did you do Kangaroo Care with your baby and cuddle them while you pumped? Did you seek a prescription to help you produce more milk? Were you using a high-grade pump with correctly sized shields?”
The above has been copied and pasted word for word. I kid you not.
This poor woman doesn’t need to hear that sanctimonious, self-righteous, ‘I’m better than you’ bullshit from other mothers. She needs to hear:
‘It’s okay. We get that you tried your damnedest to do what everyone else is doing, but you ultimately took the decision that suited you and your baby best. You are happy, the baby is happy, therefore you are doing great. Thanks for sharing your story with other women that may be in the same boat as you. Keep going, you are a brilliant mother!’
THAT, by the way, should be the answer to EVERY remark that any mother gives on the way she raises her child. That is what EVERY mother wants to hear ALL of the time because most of it is guesswork and we are trying to do the best we can.
Imagine if men judged each other like we do…
Two fathers sitting in a park:
Man 1: Look at that Dad over there giving his baby a bottle. I hope it’s not formula!
Man 2: Where is his wife? I hope she expressed it fresh for him that morning!
Man 1: Look! Now he’s checking his phone.
Man 2: What are arsehole… he’s not even making eye contact with the baby.
Man 1: And look at his pot belly, clearly he hasn’t been doing his Daddy Yoga. What kind of a father doesn’t look after himself after his baby has been born?
Man 2: Disgusting. Hey, what’s that you are feeding little Billy?
Man 1: Oh, it’s some pureed apple.
Man 2: From a jar! You mean you didn’t make it yourself out of organic apples from your own garden? We only ever cook organic! Right, I’m off to work.
Man 1: Work? On a Saturday? But isn’t the sanctity of family more important to you than a few bucks?
Man 2: Yes, but some of us feel that providing for our family is more important than staring at the TV all day with our kids and showing off on Facebook like you do all day.
Ridiculous, right? Men don’t speak to each other that way, online or face to face. They rarely even remark on what a fellow father is doing. And if we mothers were at that park on that sunny Saturday morning and saw a bunch of Dads feeding their kids, would we judge them? No.
We would probably say what ‘wonderful dads’ they were for being there in the first place (then probably criticize the mother for NOT being there).
Mothers can’t win and it’s our own fault. It’s us other mothers who are to blame.
So women, let’s start a revolution.
Let us keep sharing all our mothering techniques, thoughts, opinions, experiences and life stories – it’s not only therapeutic for us but may also help another bewildered mum out there wondering if what she is doing is okay – and then let us answer every woman’s varied approaches to the greatest gift on earth with support, positivity, encouragement, and praise.
It is not a competition!
You won’t get a certificate of excellence when your child reaches eighteen and you pass each Breast Feeding, Bento Box, Keep Fit, Tidy House, Patience is a Virtue module. We are all different and each child on this planet is different… so let’s give our fellow mothers what we strive to give our own children – respect, patience, understanding, compassion, and love.
Want change? BE the change. Share this message, support your fellow mums and fill social media with #MummyRevolution. Let’s make us all proud to be the best mothers we can.
In my eyes that makes every mother a winner!