(This is the post I wrote after my two glasses of wine – not too bad! Was scared it contained many more swearwords that it did. Am model of restraint. Oh, and much better night last night! Thank bloody goodness)
One would think that after waiting so long, after having so much time to imagine what it would be like, motherhood should have been pretty much as expected.
Instead, motherhood has been a huge shock to me. And not only because of the lack of sleep and the unending relentlessness of the enormous responsibility.
As the babies get bigger, more independent and less frightening, I find myself getting into somewhat of a comforting and comfortable motherhood groove. I’ve found my rhythm; things definitely do get easier.
And as things get easier, and my world gets bigger, I am becoming increasingly aware of just what a high profile, public role motherhood is. Up until now I was too busy mothering to be aware of the level of public scrutiny that is placed on mothers. And sadly, it is not so much by non-mothers, but rather by other mothers. Not even world leaders and presidents are subject to the same amount of judgment and derision as mothers are.
And (like assholes!) everyone has an opinion, it would appear. And they are not scared to share it. Religion and politics hold no sway to motherhood when it comes to the impassioned contention of public opinion.
Whereas for pretty much any other subject of debate, some form of social etiquette will ensure that (most) opinion is passed with a certain level of circumspection and respect; when it comes to judging other people’s mothering, there seems to be no holds barred.
And this surprises me. Greatly. And it disappoints me.
Never have I felt so judged, and as a result, so unsure of myself as when it comes to motherhood. Motherhood seems to have undertaken a level of professionalism that leaves me bewildered. And here I foolishly thought it was a ‘natural’, instinctive state of being. What happened to ‘good enough’ mothering? Has motherhood always been so competitive, so judgmental, so aggressive, or is this a modern day phenomenon? Am I only aware of it now that I am a mother or has it always been this way?
There is stuff I do every day that I think “if some people had to know I do this they would be up in arms!” One can’t do this, one can’t do that. This is bad, that is damaging. You let your kids watch TV? Don’t you know you will ruin them forever, you bad bad mother. They still drink from a bottle???? They will be underachieving social misfits because you didn’t change them from bottles to sippy cups at exactly 13 months.
For a while I bought into that. And trying to keep up, trying to do the right thing, nearly drove me fucking insane. I had stopped listening to my instinct; I was trying so hard to do what the Perfect Mother did.
And now? Now I think ‘fuck everyone else’. These are MY kids, *I* am their mother.
My kids watch TV. Not for long, but my kids watch TV. They love TV. And yes, I know some people think TV is the devils spawn. I tell you what; why don’t you keep TV away from YOUR kids and I will manage mine. And that’s not all! My kids still drink their milk out of a bottle. And you know what is even worse; I hold the bottle for them! And guess what else! I give my kids the occasional snack of a few chips or a lollipop. I didn’t breastfeed (I couldn’t), I did CIO with Adam. I have spanked my kids on the very odd occasion and I will do it again if I think it is appropriate. Shock horror!
And you know what else? I don’t care what anyone else thinks of this. These are my kids. I love them dearly. I mother them the best way I know how. If my kids end up happy; knowing they are deeply, totally, loved, then I have done my job well.
I am amazed, surprised and saddened how judgmental mothers are of other mothers. Before becoming a mother I would have guessed the opposite to be true; that mothers would band together and support each other. But I guess I was incredibly naïve.
I think what surprises me most, is how much the judgment affects me. I would love to say that I rise above the judgment passed by the card-carrying, flag-waving Mommy Judges, but the barbs sneak through. They know how to hit where it hurts.
At risk of doing what I am accusing them of doing; I have to wonder why they do it. Why they pursue their calling with such militant dedication. Do they judge for the sake of the child? Have they appointed themselves champions of the interests of all children, not just their own. Is their motivation truly altruistic; or is the real reason they so readily judge other mothers more to do with seeking to validate their own choices? If what I do is wrong, then it means they are right?
Whatever the reason, I don’t like it and I am not going to buy into it. And I am going to do my damndest not to let it get to me.
You mother your children in the way you feel is best for your family; I’ll do the same for mine.