Judgment. It’s all around us, in the eyes of everyone we meet, it seems, and maybe even more prevalent and insidious today because of social media. Everyone has an opinion — and not just any opinion, an “informed” opinion. Informed by whatever they read on Facebook.
But no matter how badly everyone seems to get judged, moms get the brunt of it. It starts when you’re pregnant. Every little thing you do is scrutinized– from the way you wear your clothes (too tight so you’re immodest, too loose so you’ve let yourself go) to the food you eat (is that allowed?! How much damage are you doing to your unborn child?!). Then there’s breastfeeding (don’t even get me started), how skinny or fat your child is, to how your preschooler can’t spell or read yet when everyone else his age is already reciting multiplication tables. Then there’s your kid’s behavior. Too confident, too meek, too rambunctious, too immobile. Everything reflects on you, Mama. But, you protest, you’re not the only parent responsible — nope. Reality check. It’s all on you.
Whether that’s true or not doesn’t matter. You will still get blamed. You will be found with fault. And you will hurt. You will feel the pain twice that of when it’s just your choice of footwear that’s up for discussion or your choice of husband even. Because the very children these people are criticizing are your heart and soul. They just so happen to walk around outside you. They just so happen to have their own personalities, their own identities, and their own minds. But maybe because of this, other people judge you more harshly. And it goes hand in hand that you hurt more deeply too.
It’s all part and parcel of being a mom, though. Right? It begins in pregnancy. The discomfort? Nah, the pain. The inconvenience? Nah, the end of your life as you know it. Then there’s labor, sleepless nights, loneliness (acute, searing loneliness), cracked nipples… You get the picture. Are they meant to toughen you up so that you can take the worse things that are going to happen? Is it a rite of passage? Is it meant to bring moms together?
I say yes to all. And also, no. At this stage in my life as a mom (and I know I’m still a novice at this whole thing), I’ve learned that it’s all about perspective. I wouldn’t judge my friend’s sharp tongue because I know she’s suffering from something too, I wouldn’t judge a woman who refuses to breastfeed her baby because she’s 19 and doesn’t know any better, I wouldn’t judge a mom who elects to have a c section because she’s terrified of labor. What has motherhood taught me? That none of us are in any position to judge. We don’t know the full story. We don’t know what’s going on when you’re logged off and the cameras are aimed elsewhere.
What we do know as well as the sound of our own breathing and the taste of our own lips, are our children. The loves of our lives. The high pitched, demanding voices that drive us to the brink of insanity. Yes those. But whose smiles and hugs and tears have found ways to brand our entire being for life. These are the ones we have to focus on.
So let the others talk. Let them judge. And if need be, defend yourself and speak up. But above it all, don’t lose sight of what matters most. Your little ones will thank you for it and your heart will thank you for it too.