A few weeks ago, I was given a #Mommitment award – my blog had been judged as going above and beyond to support other mums. I was really pleased – that’s what I’ve always intended to do. I joined the Mommitment group on Facebook, and realised just how important this movement is. There’s so much being said lately about the Mommy Wars and Sanctimommies, and how parenting has become such a competition lately. With debates like breastfeeding vs formula, pushchair vs babywearing and purees vs baby-led weaning turning into mass arguments, it’s not hard to see why there are a lot of moms out there feeling unsupported.
Motherhood is a tough time. It’s a lonely time. There are so many choices we have to make, and our totally valid choices are constantly judged – not just by outsiders, but by other mums too. Being told that you are doing the wrong thing, and potentially harming the most precious person in your life, is awful. It’s little wonder that postnatal depression is so prevalent, when some parents spend so much of their time making others feel like bad parents.
Let’s be honest, we all judge. We all have moments where we roll our eyes internally and think “If I was that parent, I’d…”. I did it the other day in the supermarket. A child of about seven or eight was running up and down the aisles, no manners, not an ‘excuse me’ or a ‘sorry’ when she ran into Daf and physically pushed his arm out of the way so that she could get past. My immediate instinct was to judge. I rolled my eyes and looked around for whoever was with the child, telling myself that I would never allow SB to behave so awfully.
Then I caught myself. What if I couldn’t see head nor tail of her parents, because they had their hands full looking after her disabled sibling? What if the little girl herself had behavioural or emotional issues, and letting her run was preferable to causing a full-on meltdown in the middle of Morrisons? What if her mum or dad are at their wits’ end, feeling on the brink, totally unsupported, and they don’t have the fight left in them to try and stop the girl. To have someone glare at them, or huff loudly, or tell them to control their child is the last thing they need.
Of course, it’s possible that her parents just didn’t give a shit – that they were happy to let her run free as long as it kept her out from under their feet while they shopped. That’s totally possible too – but I’d rather not take that risk, and make someone at their lowest ebb feel even worse.
So this is my #Mommitment – my commitment and promise to all mums, everywhere. I’m not going to say that I will never judge. It’s human nature to judge; it’s almost a reflex action when we see something and think “I’d never do that”. To promise that I’ll never judge again would be disingenuous of me.
But my #Mommitment is to swallow that judgement, and never ever voice it. If I am genuinely concerned for a child’s welfare, I will contact the appropriate authorities, and never tell them that I think they are a bad parent. If I see someone doing something that I’d never do, I will remind myself that we all do things differently, because all children are different.
I will remind myself that I am seeing a page of someone’s life, not their entire story. I will remember that even on the days when I feel positive, and to the entire world, it looks as if I have it all together, to have someone roll their eyes at me or mutter a sarcastic comment about my parenting skills would shatter that strength, and I’d fall apart. I don’t want to be responsible for doing that to someone else.
Please do the same, and make a #Mommitment. Show solidarity with mums across the world, and show kindness rather than judgement. We’re all learning how to be the best parents we can be together – there are no medals and no trophies, and no-one is observing to see who the “Best Mum” is. With support and solidarity, we can all become better parents.