Criticising mothers seems to have become a national past time. Victoria Beckham has lost her baby weight too quickly, Adele too slowly. Believers in controlled crying are abusive and neglectful whilst attachment parenting advocates are raising needy children with no independence. Stay at home mums are lazy but working mums are selfish. And what’s worse is we are in on it.
I remember recently a friend posting an amusing story on a parenting forum which included the fact her one year old son had a cup of orange squash. What shocked me was just how many of the mums ignored the story and slammed her for giving her son squash. They were incredulous as to why she hadn’t given him water. Her parenting skills, intelligence, and concern for her son’s health were all questioned and many of the comments were what I could consider cruel and bullying. Over orange squash.
This is a woman who is a trained midwife, loves her son more than anything in the world, and is a good mother. But surely that is beside the point. What stands out to me is even if I didn’t know these things about her, who are these women to turn into raging harpees over something so simple as a choice of drink? She wasn’t pumping him full of Red Bull, she wasn’t waxing lyrical about how she was letting him live on nothing but Wotsits and the occasional snort of cocaine, she was giving him a cup of orange squash. Of course, many mums prefer their children only drink water. Some mums want their children to eat no meat, others want them to eat no chocolate, others want them to eat no carbs.
The point is, we all do what we think is best for our children and as long as our parenting choices are not endangering our children why must other mums leap on the bandwagon to criticise in the most unkind ways? Sure, we’re all used to the Daily Mail proclaiming certain mothers are undeserving of children and most of us scoff at those remarks and judge those who automatically believe it to be true. We fight for women’s rights and we fight for equality, yet amongst ourselves we condemn those who choose different choices to our own to be seen as “lesser mothers”. We might believe we’re equal against men but we certainly don’t believe we’re equal against one another.
All the abuse I’ve seen mothers get both in the media and from one another has lead me to feel very nervous about approaching fellow mothers when I’m out, and especially about seeking advice or opinions. I have regularly seen a lovely woman at my gym with a lovely baby a few months older than Miss Rose named Imelda. Imelda’s Mum has gone some way to restore my faith that the sisterhood is not lost. She’s been kind and offered advice without being bossy, she’s recommended things to help with Miss Rose’s teething, congratulated me on still breast feeding without being pushy and agreed that it gets hard. Imelda’s Mum is the model on which we should all base ourselves on for how to treat fellow mothers. We’re all in the same boat and it’s okay if we don’t all do the same thing, it’s okay if we wouldn’t all raise our baby’s in the same way, we can still be friendly, kind and supportive. We can disagree without criticising. Discuss without ranting. Advise without pushing.
Don’t get me wrong, I am in no way perfect and have often raised my eyebrows at other mother’s choices, especially before having had her. I’ve discussed parenting failures made by other mother’s and judged errors harshly, but even when my judgey-pants have been pulled up to their highest I would never give a mother the abuse I’ve seen some receive, and since having Miss Rose I’ve found myself feeling far less critical of others as I witness my own failings day in day out and hope for understanding and sympathy rather than criticism and cruelty.
Please fellow mothers, and those who are yet to be mothers, please can we stick together. Accept our differences and present a united front as we’re facing a world that seems to take such joy in pointing out our failings, whether real or imagined, and seem to be working on the principle of divide and conquer. Stick together, ride out the storm, and come out at the end of it accepting our flaws but feeling supported by those in the same boat. We are all going to screw up our kids, just in our own unique ways, and that’s okay.
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Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!