I feel like judgement is one of our biggest fears as mothers, (aside from checking our babies are breathing every 5 minutes or Googling pictures of their poo to see if it’s “normal”). Our minds are constantly filled with all the things that other people might be thinking about us, our children and how we parent. It can be quite debilitating for some women, stopping them from partaking in all manner of things from breastfeeding in public to attending a baby class.
So let’s rip that plaster off quick … I can absolutely guarantee that other people will judge you at some point! I know this sounds slightly terrifying but lets face it, it’s an innate human function; we see something and we make a judgement on it. It’s how we survive. Raise your hand if you’ve never judged another mother (this includes those thoughts that spring to mind before our conscious/morals kick in) *waits patiently while not one single person raises their hands*. So if we our selves are judging others – how can we expect them not to do the same? Now I’m not here to send you into a paranoid spiral but simply to get you thinking. Our judgements of others are harmless if not acted upon, they are fleeting thoughts that pass almost instantly. Who care’s if Sandra from down the road thinks you’re not parenting right, let’s take that mental energy from worrying about what she thinks and put it into something more productive (like picking up some chocolate hob nobs on the way home from the school run and eating them all to yourself when the kids have gone to sleep.)
We cannot control other people or what they think of us. However, there is one person who judges you (probably the most), who says terrible things about your parenting, your post baby body, who tells you you’re not good enough and that IS someone we can control, because she is you. Our minds can be right dicks sometimes but with a bit of practice we can learn to manipulate that beast inside our brain, to question what it’s saying and to throw some witty comebacks its way. I recently heard the quote “Thoughts Aren’t Facts” and it’s really stuck with me. Those horrible little things we say to ourselves, the mum guilt that floods in, none of it is fact. But I’ll tell you what is a fact – being a mum is hard. You are doing your absolute best at any given moment with the tools you have available. You’re a good enough mum.
So we’ve considered how to keep the thoughts about ourselves in check but what about those thoughts we have about other mums? Firstly, learning to question the judgements we have could open us up to a deeper understanding of who we are (stick with me here). Often our thoughts of others are a reflection of the feelings or fears we have about ourselves. So make your judgement (as we all do), but let’s take it a little further – Where did this thought come from? Why do I think that? How do I feel if I reverse that judgement onto myself? This line of questioning may also encourage us to be a little kinder. The saying “Always be kind because you never know what someone is going through” plays a huge part here. We rarely know the full picture when these thoughts arise; that mum giving her kids fish fingers and chips for the fourth night in a row is exhausted, it’s all she can afford this week, at least her kids are fed. That mum who looks dishevelled and unkept has three children to get ready and has zero time to herself. That mum on her phone while her little one plays in the park is desperately trying to run a business alongside mothering so she can stay at home. The mum who looks like she has everything together is in a mentally abusive relationship and doesn’t know how she will carry on. The mum with the Pinterest worthy home on Instagram, moves piles of toys and weeks worth of washing out of shot before taking the picture. Either way, it’s nobody’s business how you or anyone else choses to parent. If it works for you and your family, your kids are happy, safe and fed, that’s all that matters.
Let’s stop judging ourselves against others, be that our parenting, our children or our bodies and let’s strive to be kind always (or at least most of the time). You’re going to judge, its who we are, but it’s how you choose to act on that judgement that makes all the difference. Being a mum is difficult enough without us making it harder for each other. So tell a random mum in the street that she’s doing a good job. Share a knowing smile. Offer help to the mum struggling in the supermarket. We’ve all been there and we’re all in this together ladies!