We know it’s wrong to judge and we know each person has to make their own individual choices but still….
Mommies judge each other all the time. They compare. They pass judgement. And they do it all the time.
I’ve been thinking about this post for a bit now and trying to figure out a way to put it nicely. But there is no nice way. At the same time it’s not necessarily a bad thing if a momma doesn’t let it be.
Let me clarify…. I go to two different mommy groups. Moms get together with their babies and talk about how things are going. They ask questions and share information. It’s great, especially for the first time mom, to hear how things are working (or aren’t working) for others.
Last week at one of the groups a passionate discussion on circumcision began. Actually, it wasn’t a discussion so much as various people talking about why circumcision is bad and how if anyone researches it they would not do it. Finally, one of the moms (who is a regular there, this was only my second visit) spoke up saying that she had researched it extensively and still had her son circumcised. She said it was a difficult decision and that the main reason they had it done was her husbands preference. Now she wishes she hadn’t done it but what bothered her was that she was afraid to change her sons diaper in the group for fear of being judged.
There was some backpedaling and everyone assured her that she wasn’t judged. That she’d done the best she could with the information she had at the time. That many women had to make compromises because of family pressure or other reasons that they weren’t happy with now. Other women spoke up about their reasons for circumcision and subsequent regret. Others felt judged because they didn’t breast feed or co sleep or cloth diaper. Everyone reassured each other that no one was judging.
But we are… and I think it’s ok.
The bottom line is that each mother has to make the best decisions for her child and family with the information she has at the time. What works for one will not work for all. A beautiful quote that someone later posted on the site says:
“I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.” -Maya Angelou
It was a wonderful meeting to be at and very helpful.
But it got me thinking about Momma Judgement.
We judge… we have to, we are all trying so hard.
There is so much information thrown at us. Traditional parenting. Attachment parenting. Grandparents advice. Mothers Advice. Mother in law’s advice. What worked for your friend. What didn’t work for your friend. What you swore you’d never do. What your husband thinks. What your husbands friends think. What the nice lady in the grocery store has to say.
There are a million pieces of advice and theories and ways to do things. Ultimately each mother and father has to go with what works for them as a family. They base it on all kinds of things- research, numbers, what their mom thinks, what their doctor thinks, or just a gut reaction…. and they do the best they can based on that.
And that’s perfect.
But then after you have made your decision to have natural birth, breastfed, vaccinate, not vaccinate, use Vicks vapor rub, don’t use Vicks vapor rub, co-sleep, cloth diaper (the list is endless) you will run into someone who does the opposite of what you do. And they will tell you why they didn’t make your choice.
And for one split second I think everyone…. EVERYONE…. feels “Did I make the right decision? Or are they right?”
I was 100% sure that having LA in the birthing center was the right choice for us. But every time someone expressed a concern I would spend a few seconds reconsidering. Simply because I wanted to do the best thing I could do….so it was natural to hear another point of view and wonder.
And I think what happens is when faced with another persons perspective on what was right for them a mommy gets a bit defensive of what is right for her.
She gathers stories about how her decision was right. She is ready to jump on any bandwagon of people who agree with her.
I think there are different types of moms who judge but I do think we all do it. Here are the types I’ve noticed.
Type One- The Reluctant Judger- This is where I think I fall by the way. This type of mommy doesn’t want to judge. She knows with her head that everyone has to make decision for them and for what works for their family. There may be some issues that she strongly feels are “better” than others… but she’s flexible… in her head. But with her heart she so badly wants to have made the right choice that she does gather examples of why they did the “right” thing. Which I think is normal, I mean we all want to be validated, right? This mom won’t usually be verbal about their judging because they don’t want to judge.
Type two- The Regretful Judger- They went along with a choice that was not theirs. They felt pressured into it or something and now they defend that decision, rabidly. They HAVE to be right because they really aren’t comfortable with their decision. I think these mommies sometimes can get nasty because they really need validation.
Type three- The Righteous Judger- This is the mom who kind of likes to judge. Who HAS to put their two cents in, especially with those that are doing things differently than they do. They want to argue… to be right and to show someone when they have made, what they deem, a “mistake.”
I’m sure we all fall into one of these three categories at any time or another.
It’s great to say (and I do honestly believe true) that each family has to make the choice that is right for them. But we also want to stand behind our own decision… and if our decision is right then all the others must not be. Just by logic. Of course that’s not true but I think it’s why we get defensive.
We are doing the best job we can and we so badly want to be right so we take offense at the idea that we aren’t.
I know that I was thrilled at how our birth experience went. It was right for us. I loved how things turned out. But I really didn’t want anyone to feel that I thought it was right for everyone or that I disapproved of any other way, because I don’t. But when a friend asked how things went I responded that I was thrilled. I was shocked when I got a horrible, nasty email from her boyfriend asking if I thought I was better than everyone else. He took offense because I said I loved it. He thought by loving our birth experience I was saying all others were bad.
I know another mommy whose son was born after my LA who argues with anything I say. We have different styles of parenting for a number of reasons. She is more medical and puts a lot of faith in doctors. I’m more herbal and into holistic and natural. Every time I say something about what we are doing (even in another friends conversation) she has to pop up and say what she’s doing. I don’t know why. I think it’s because she isn’t someone who researches, she trusts her doctor. So if I do something different she wants to know why and when I answer she feels “lectured.” We’re just different. She trusts her doctor- which is great, that is their job. I trust my instinct after I’ve gathered massive amounts of information. Neither is right, it’s just different styles. But when she “argues” with me I feel judged… even though I’m comfortable with our choices… but I still do.
Even my Nana, who I love, sometimes will say, “Well I guess I did things wrong.” This is in response to the fact that I’m doing something different with LA than she did with my mom. I point out to her that information changes and it wasn’t wrong, I mean, my mom turned out ok. I know my mom, who I think was the best mother ever, made choices with me that she nows wishes she could do differently. And I already can see things with LA that I would probably do differently if I could!
So… I don’t know if I made any sense. And I hope I didn’t offend.
I do honestly believe that for the most part each choice that a family makes out of love is right for that family. Barring neglect most every parent does the best they can.
But I’m also confidant that our decisions that we have made were the best we could do (for us!)… and I can’t help it if I feel a little judged when someone challenges me on them. But I also think it’s normal and I have to realize that they may be doing it just because everyone wants to be the best mommy they can be!