Monday, April 25, 2011
Are You Guilty Of Judging Other Mothers, And Even Yourself?
It's almost like we have a checklist in our heads of "good" mom and "bad" mom moments. We look at another mother and see something she is doing and say "Crap, I don't do that, I must be failing in some way", or "Phew, I do that too so I must be on the right track". I think we play a good game of pretending to do it all and be happy doing it. I think it's taboo to talk about the truth and whether or not we are truly happy in our new roles and all of the choices we have to make in today's world. I think there is so much guilt in whichever choice we make that we are basically set up to fail in our own minds. I think it leads us to feeling as if others are judging all of our actions, as well as to us making choices based on those perceived judgments. Those judgments can come from everywhere, family, friends, colleagues, as well as other mothers. It's a virtual pressure cooker! Whether you choose to be a stay-at-home mom, a working mom or a part-time working mom, we feel like people will have something to say based on the choices we make. And the crazy part is, we're scared they'll look down on us for the choice, rather than praise us!
We judge other mothers for a variety of reasons... one in particular is when we don't know what to do ourselves. I think the "safety in numbers" mentality comes in to play and we look around to see what others are doing so we can figure out the "right" thing to do. But just because something may work for the majority, it does not necessarily mean it will work for you. We have to dig deep to really question ourselves on whether a certain choice is the right choice for ourselves and for our family - having the confidence to do so can sometimes be daunting. Why do you think it's so hard for us to trust our own judgment? In other aspects of my life, I don't hesitate to make decisions, and I do so with authority.
I also think that we tell ourselves that certain things make us happy, because they are supposed to make us happy (and because they are supposedly making other mothers happy). I think we're scared to dig deep and be honest with ourselves about our thoughts and our lives. I think when other moms ask us about our lives and choices, we often tell them what we think we should say (or what we think they want to hear), rather than the truth. I think the truths is often too scary. The truth is, I think we are all afraid of failing our kids in some way. Or even worse, that the choices we have made which we presumed would make us happy, are not in actual fact making us happy.
I've really been digging deep lately and asking myself what would make me happiest? I know that trying to compete with other mothers can only end up making me feel bad. Although it's very difficult, I'm trying hard not to be influenced by what others are doing (or not doing), in addition to what I think everyone expects of me. I don't think we can truly find happiness in the roles we have chosen unless we are completely honest with our deepest thoughts and desires. And once we figure these out, have the courage to make the changes despite our worries of what others may think. It's a fine balance for sure... trying to be happy while still doing what we feel is right for our kids, our family and ourselves. But in the end, if we don't try, isn't that the biggest failure of all?
I know I'm not alone in how I am feeling. There are lots of other moms blogging on this topic. Check out this post by The Mom Crowd - she gives some good tips on how to stop judging other moms. I also recently read I Was A Really Good Mom Before I Had Kids: Reinventing Modern Motherhood by Trisha Ashworth and Amy Nobile. A really thought provoking read.