Have you tried…..
One thing I think all mothers can agree on is that you are constantly scrutinised and judged for every parenting decision you make, by every person you encounter, be they a parent or not.
Every new mother I know has experienced this. Make that every mother, but for the sake of this article I will talk about the new mummies I am friends with. Our children are all very close in age, only a couple of months apart. One thing I love about my mummy friends is the fact that we all parent so very, very differently. For example, I bed share, one of my friends co-sleeps in the same room, another has her son in his own cot, in his own room. I breastfeed, most of my friends formula feed, whether this was by choice or circumstantial. I baby wear, most of my friends do not. Despite all this, we all recognise that none of us are parenting ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. We do not judge one another for what the other does.
I was speaking with one friend the other day as we now feed our little ones solids between milk feeds. We both thought that any other mother would know that life with a baby is a busy life, and we all do our best to jam as much as we can in to each day but you cannot plan life around a sick child, a whiny child, a teething child or one that just flat out refuses to sleep that day. This particular friend and I both prefer to feed our babies homemade purees where possible, but finding the time to make baby food is a mission. That said, neither of us have an issue with any parent that chooses to feed their baby store bought jar food. In fact, we both have jar food in our cupboard for those times when being the ‘perfect’ mother is just not an option, or for when we need to shove something quickly in the nappy bag, or hey, even for when we say “fuck it” and decide to give our kid some bloody jar food.
My friend recently moved and unpacked her new house in two days, while her son was teething and refusing to sleep. He also ended up having croup over those two days. Needless to say, she was exhausted. She was at the shops the day after moving and feeding her son from a jar when some lady felt the need to approach her and tell her all about her daughter who makes food from scratch, then asked her if she had ever considered doing the same. That was it, my friend let her have it! And good on her I say. Why the hell do people constantly feel mothers want to hear their opinions? At what point was my friend meant to cook her son some fresh puree? What if she were one of those mothers that choose to feed jar food? So fucking what? That same day my friend took to a Facebook mother’s group to vent and seek support. Luckily the majority of the mums on there were on her side (this time), however there were of course some miracle mothers on there that were utterly disgusted that she dare feed a baby food that was not grown organically at home then cooked from scratch. I sat down that night to read her post and scrolled through the comments to see this Nazi mother had passive-aggressively attacked her. She wrote something along the lines of “I am not judging, however I would NEVER feed my child from a jar. It is so dangerous and full of chemicals and sugar. It is so bad for them. LOL”. I love how people add LOL at the end to take a bit of the blow out of the comment, as if laughing at what you wrote makes it slightly less cunty. Here was a tired mum who was venting about how shit people can be and how it hurts to be judged, who was simply wanting a little support and she copped that. On a mother’s support page of all things! I think we can all agree that those mother’s groups are the devil. You will never please everyone and you will never be as perfect as all the mothers on there, whose parenting style is obviously the only style that is correct. I feel I should add a LOL here.
My friend and I were discussing the jar food debacle and other things that we have been judged for as mothers. It made me realise that the list is endless. This list also consists of things that before I was a mum, I had no idea were things I could be judged for. Things mums can be judged for include:
Choosing to formula feed (you are the worst mother)
Having to formula feed (you obviously did not try hard enough to breast feed)
Breastfeeding (wow, you are a good mum)
Breastfeeding in public (gross)
Breastfeeding in public and not covering (you are a slut and grossing me out)
Breastfeeding in public and covering (why are you not out and proud?)
Baby wearing (your child will never learn to walk. Are you planning on wearing them forever? Your child is going to be a pansy)
Feeding jar food (your child is definitely going to die of cancer from all the chemicals)
Feeding solids before 6 months (allergies!!!)
Waiting until 6 months to try solids
Co-sleeping (didn’t have to do that in my day)
Bed-sharing (dangerous!!! You are going to kill your child you know!)
Putting a baby in their own cot before 6 months (don’t you know about SIDS?)
Putting a baby in their own cot after 6 months (how will your child ever learn independence?)
Putting a baby in their own room before 6 months (SIDS SIDS SIDS)
Putting a baby in their own room after 6 months
Letting a child Cry It Out (CIO) (you are on par with formula mums, this is child abuse)
Controlled Crying (CC) (less of a bad parent but your child will be scarred for life and not bond with you)
Not letting a child CIO (back in my day we let you cry and you turned out ok)
Not implementing CC
Attachment parenting (hippy scum)
Baby Led Weaning (BLW) (a child should not dictate their feeding)
Not BLW (your kid is going to choke and die, plus get allergies)
This is honestly just a fraction of the things myself or someone I know have been judged for. It spreads to the brand of pram or nappies you use, your child’s bedtime or routine, what you fill your days with, how you burp them, if you use talc, if you wash them in the first week of being born, how you birthed them, whether you let them watch TV before 2 years old etc. Honestly, the list is endless. As you can see, literally every thing on that list contradicts another. It goes to show there is no right or wrong way when it comes to parenting. You do whatever the fuck you have to do to get through each day without losing your shit. You try different things and learn along the way. You may ask for advice, this does not mean you are wanting judgement and you sure as hell are not wanting advice from strangers when you are sitting at a shop trying to feed your son after two days of not sleeping, moving house and nursing a sick child.
Less judgement, more support. We will all be a lot stronger if we stand together. Come on mums, in the words of the wise Ben Lee, we are all in this together.