I have wanted to write this post for a little while now but I have wondered how it would be received, whether anyone else has felt the same or if it is just me. I need to preface this post by saying that without lots of lovely supportive Mama’s on social media and in ‘real life’ too I could not have made it through the first few months of parenting a tiny human. To those women, you will probably never know how much your kind words and solidarity meant to me but I will always be grateful.
Along the way I have seen and experienced the complete opposite. It is rarely done overtly but more often as a passive aggressive comment such as ‘Oh, I would never do Cry It Out, babies learn to sleep in their own time’ (by the way, using Cry It Out as an all encompassing term for sleep training is also wrong and often very deliberate…). Or ‘Weaning before six months can cause problems later on’. Or ‘Co-sleeping is dangerous, personally I would never risk it’. Some of the comments are tantamount to telling another Mum that they are somehow getting motherhood ‘wrong’.
When Freddie was around three months old to around five and a half months I had a really rough time with his Silent Reflux and what I suspect was some Post-Natal Depression creeping in. During those months, passive-aggressive comments like the ones I mentioned above, judging my parenting decisions wrapped up in a bow of neutrality hurt. They hurt a lot. One particular comment sent me into such a tailspin that I ended up feeling unable to discuss it with my paediatrician for fear that she would somehow judge me. The point is, what is the point of these comments? Why make another mother feel bad for making a decision that is different to yours?
I am definitely not perfect and at times I have felt the resentment bubble up (seeing peaceful babes napping was a definite trigger for me!) and the temptation to make a comment judging that mother for something else she was doing was really, really strong. But then I would remember how receiving comments like that felt and I would pause. How it felt to wonder if you had just taken it the wrong way when actually it was obviously said deliberately. I would stop and think about why I was going to comment or send that message I wanted to send and it would always come back to me feeling inferior in some way. Which is most certainly my issue and not theirs. Making a comment would make me feel worse and so neither of us would be better off. Where is the fun in that?
The point to all of this is, no judgement. Unless you have serious concerns about a baby’s welfare why make the comment? Why tell another mum that you wouldn’t do what she is doing but ‘you do what’s best for you’? As mothers, but also as women we already experience enough criticism and enough scrutiny. We don’t need anymore of it, certainly not from each other. On social media and in ‘real-life’ I am friends with different mums who all have different parenting styles but none of them have ever made me feel bad for the choices I have made. I am stronger now than I was during those tough few months and nowadays when those comments are said to me I won’t back down. I make the decision not to interact with that person anymore and move on. Always take a moment to consider what that mum who appears to have the perfect life might be experiencing in private. They might be more vulnerable than you think.
Something I have found that helps me deal with my insecurities surrounding Freddie or my ability as a mother, is to actively build other mums up. To take the time to comment on a photo or send a message with a genuine compliment. I have yet to feel unable to find some sort of common ground with another mum. And selfishly, it makes me feel good. By doing this I have spoken to some lovely mums and made some genuine and lovely connections. So we both win!
I would love to connect with you over on my Instagram. If you could relate to this post, I would love for you to share it!
Thanks for reading,