There are so many different reasons why mum’s become stressed, anxious and feel like they aren’t doing a good enough job. I have felt all of these in with both my children separately and both together. People pass judgement on mums (and dads let’s be honest) all the time, without caring how it will make the other person feel or without knowing what they have gone through to get to that point. This is a fairly long post for me and a bit ranty so here is your last warning to grab yourself a cuppa, maybe a biscuit and get ready for the long haul!
First things first nobody really has any right to judge anyone unless they know fully what you are going through and even then it should be silent, never spoken or leave that persons head, as we all judge now and then (we are human after all) but you should check yourself and keep it to yourself.
Recently a very strong, intelligent, hardworking, beautiful and amazing mum I know said that someone had the audacity to tell her she had gained weight. Now in this day and age where body positivity is on the up and fat (or skinny) shaming is being frowned upon, you would have thought that women would be empowering each other not using the one thing that will cut a women right to the core when they are vulnerable….her weight. Now this mum argued back that people only see what they want you to see on social media which we all know is true, then she justified herself which she and no other person should have to do if they have had a fluctuation in weight. This is the same with new mums who straight away feel like they need to lose their baby weight but in reality why the f*ck should they? Their body just grew a god damn human being! They created LIFE! The stretch marks we are told to buy stupidly expensive creams and oils to remove show how our body grew to accommodate the baby we love so much, the weight gain shows us that we ate and gave our baby nutrients. Yes our bodies may not look like they did before especially if we had to have surgery but they have done something amazing, something that no other gender can do.
The how you feed your baby debate is ridiculous! How your baby is fed be it breast, bottle or tube shouldn’t matter as long as they are getting fed. I wanted to breast feed Ra-Ra and I managed once and then just broke down I just wanted her fed, people tried to persuade me to keep trying but the anxiety had already hit by then. 00Steve asked me to keep an open mind when it came to Button and that was more than fair enough in my opinion, especially as breast feeding is cheaper than bottle feeding. You never know why women don’t breast feed and it more often than not certainly isn’t for cosmetic reasons! I envied those mums that could breast feed to the point I didn’t really want to see it but I was never going to ask the mums who could to stop it or go feed their baby in the toilet. I mean would YOU go eat in the toilet? No, so why should a defenceless baby? If you can and want to breast feed you totally should! By the same token other than the immunity you can pass through your breast milk (and then find out through your diet any intolerance) there isn’t much difference in formula and those mums that give you a look of disgust should be ashamed of themselves. We are all here just trying to do the best we can!
No baby comes with an instruction manual although how nice would that be? We mums often find that we are judged on how we choose to discipline or not our children, how we school our children and what we feed our children. When all that matters is that the child is happy, healthy and hitting milestones. I have done baby led weaning with both my babies and the health visitor the first time around thought I was crackers but fast forward four years later and it’s now what they advice you to do. Family members thought they would choke and die, felt upset that we didn’t want to do it they way they did (not that there is anything wrong with they way they did it) But what if you don’t fancy that and would prefer to start with purees? In my opinion just do it! As long as you are observing your child whilst they are eating and afterwards (yep including those stinky nappies) then what is wrong with it?
Not everyone has a stable relationship, or even wants a relationship. Some mums have kids to different dads or the children are being raised by someone that isn’t their dad or mum, or has two dads, or two mums or step parents (see what I did there?) Some family units work better where the parents aren’t together or some work better together, again as long as the child is healthy, happy and the parents have the childs best interests at heart and are willing to work towards that then what is the problem? There is also the step parent to think about who cares about the child like their own but can feel like they are being vilified by the “original” or that they are going to “take over” which for the majority of the time isn’t true; they often want to work in harmony with the family unit and make it stronger – you never know the step parent maybe going through the same thing with their ex having a partner.
What about travelling without your children? Now I understand that some people can’t get their heads round parents going on holidays without their children but we all need a break every so often – being a parent is hard work. I have gone away for 2 full weekends with 00Steve and no kids but usually if we go away they come with us so the odd time for us makes sense just to reconnect as husband and wife. Besides the way our kids see it is they get a holiday at their grandparents so it’s a win win. A holiday for me personally away from the kids doesn’t want to be longer than a weekend but it is different for everyone; as long as the kids get to go too at some point what’s the issue?
One other mum once said that she always thought I had it all together because when we went to toddler group I had make up on. Now what she didn’t know was under the war paint I looked really sick, I was brimming with anxiety and definitely was barely holding it together. It is impressive what wearing make up does for concealing what you don’t want others to know. I wear make up for me; it is the only time I get to myself to focus just on myself so I take it with both hands. Things like this then makes people believe that everything on social media shows perfect lives and that others worry that they aren’t living up to that. Trust me when I say that my life is so far removed from perfect but it is mine and you work with what you have got.
Christ what about those mothers with tattoos? Gawd they must be from broken homes and are clearly going to be bad role models. This one gets bandied about a bit and it’s ridiculous how is the artwork you choose to display on your body, going to affect the way you raise your child? Answer is it doesn’t! My body is mine to decorate with things that make me happy or memories, they may be sh*t or not to everyone’s taste but I couldn’t care less I like them. I try to teach my children that it doesn’t matter what someone looks like, it is what is on the inside that really makes a difference and those that are teaching their children otherwise are the bad roles models and that isn’t being judgemental it’s fact. Be kind people always.
Not everyone wants a football team, whereas some do and some just want to be the cool aunty. Yet how many children you have is often brought up for debate as if it is the whole streets right to know. What if you are infertile, been told you risk your health or life, struggle to conceive or just not want to have children? It may be the reason you don’t have any or not “as many” as others think you should. You may not agree with contraception and see it as God’s will, or just don’t believe in abortion (again which is everyone’s right to have or not have) I myself didn’t want another child after Ra-Ra and she was 2 before I changed my mind, we weren’t sure if it was even going to be on the cards for us with my health, surgeries, then we had a miscarriage and our rainbow baby Button. Although both Ra-Ra and Button are our rainbow babies as we tried for 2 years before falling pregnant with her. Then I made the decision to be sterilised as I was very much done with having children and the fact pregnancy and I didn’t get on.
Many people say that the women who don’t have a natural birth didn’t really give birth at all. What utter bullsh*t that is! There is that stupid phrase “too posh to push” which drives me insane as the amount of mums who have a c-section have actually had their natural birth result in surgery. Mine were down to health reasons not because I necessarily wanted it to work out that way, I was in pain and not just discomfort. No matter how you give birth, how long it takes, how long your baby lives doesn’t mean you haven’t given birth or are any less of a mother. For me I’m a mum of two but also a mum of an angel and I won’t ever forget Bean even if I feel guilty for grieving when they should have turned one, but I have Button so should I be allowed too?
Another thing that women are judged on and made to feel like they shouldn’t grieve for is a miscarriage (medical or otherwise) and still births. These were babies that no matter how long they were here for filled our hearts and souls full of hopes, dreams but left us thinking we failed somehow or that something was wrong with us. We will always have the what if’s or what would’s for the rest of our lives and unless you have gone through it, it is hard to empathise with. But it is such a taboo subject that women (and men) don’t feel like they can talk about the baby they lost yet to them it is the elephant in the room. Nobody can say or do anything that will make it better and I think everyone understands that but allowing the person to talk about the child they lost is a big help. You can’t just move on from that and why should you?
People judge you on your ability to be a functioning parent on your health both physically and mentally. Anxiety for instance is the life blood that fuels most new mums because they cough and you instantly panic, they don’t feed enough and you must be starving them! But having mental health issues does not make you less of a good parent, not giving a rats ass about your child is what makes you a bad parent. Parents with disabilities or physical health conditions also get looked at as if they can’t possibly be looking after the child or get pregnant if they are unwell all the time themselves, trust me we do and will continue to do what we need to so our children get the best of us.
The thing that annoys me regarding dad’s is when you are asked where your child is and you reply “with their dad” and you get those looks of worry and the responses of “are you sure he will be okay?” Or “oh dear!” I want to scream at them instead of telling them that I think that 00Steve is the best person to be looking after our children when I’m not there for whatever reason. He is firstly their dad, he knows them, he knows their likes/dislikes and they love each other. If I thought they wouldn’t be safe with him or he couldn’t cope they wouldn’t be with him would they? There are plenty of amazing dads out there who deserve just as much recognition as the mums get.
I find the people that judge me on being a mum is often those who don’t have children themselves they don’t know what it is like feeling at breaking point, being sleep deprived, being tugged in all directions to hear the baby start crying, to not drink a hot cuppa or eat a meal hot. IT IS FREAKING HARD!! So to all the mums and dads out there that are being judged or feel less than adequate – you got this, you are doing the best you can and it is good enough.