The Rise of the Judgemental Mother
I am a vegan (I haven’t eaten any animal related products today, except for that tiny bit of milk in my half caf, low fat double mochachino but that doesn’t count) fitness fanatic (I went to a bootcamp once about five years ago) naturopathic (I like to burn lavender essential oils in my electric oil burner) mother and I’m here to tell you that everything that you’re doing with your child is wrong…
Feeding your child fruit for morning tea? That’s wrong because… (insert bizarre reasoning here, more than likely something to do with GMO foods)
Allowing your child to play outside in the dirt? That’s wrong because … (something about bacteria)
You send your child to day care? Don’t send your child to day care? You awful person.
Have a nanny? What? You don’t want to spend time with your own child??
The list of things you are doing wrong as a mother goes on and on. Honestly, how do we even live with ourselves, knowing that while our children are outside, happily playing with Lego, we are exposing them to a veritable smorgasbord of RISKS!
I am the mother of two children, who despite my wanton disregard for their safety (they didn’t have a paleo/organic/vegan/pescetarian diet, were always surrounded by animals, played in the dirt, ran around nude most of the time, went to day care AND had a nanny and we never visited a naturopath), have grown into strong, healthy, well adjusted adults. I never knew if what I was doing was right, I just knew what I was doing was the best that I could do.
Thankfully, while my children we growing up, we didn’t have the social media that is around now. There were no blogs, no chat rooms, nothing. Just your basic email and some weird pages that involved flying toasters, VERY bright colours and pixelated diagrams. And if I wanted to join a mothers group, I went to the one at the local play group in town.
The benefit of the face to face mothers group is that it’s very hard to pretend to be a perfect mother when you’re looking someone straight in the eye while your child runs around with half a fairy bread sandwich sticking out of their ear, a juice box that contains… wait for it… FRUIT DRINK (i.e. less than 25% real fruit juice) and you have a big smear of Vegemite on your cheek that no one has the guts to tell you about. Hence, the amount of harmful, vindictive and, let’s face it, incorrect advice being thrown around is minimised. Because we were all there, living the motherhood dream of sleep deprivation, taking joy from the smallest things (like wearing clothes that were both washed AND ironed) and realising that we probably should have gone to the hairdresser about 6 months ago. It was an environment where we could talk about mothering. The awesome bits. The not so awesome bits, and the downright awful bits.
Flash forward to now. Everyone who’s ever had a child, thought of having a child or walked past a child in Woolworths that one time back in 2006 has a blog, they’re on Facebook with the name Jane Supermum Doe, there’s the Instagram account (@imabettermotherthanyou), they’ve got a twitter account where they dole out poor advice to every new mum looking for help or even veteran mothers looking for an outlet.
And what happens when you, the normal mum, looking to make the right decisions about your offspring, asks a question online?
That’s what you get. Nasty, vindictive, passive aggressive responses that finish off with the line “let me know how you go, honey”. Because talking down to people isn’t enough, they have to add the patronising “honey” in there as well.
The sad part is, these know it all mums have (reasonably) good intentions. They want to help. They want to be recognised for their superior mum skills. They want to let you know that if you follow their advice, you too can be a super mum like them.
The even sadder part is that for all their good intentions and illusions of mummy grandeur, most of the time, these women don’t have the qualifications to back up their massive statements. And the only experience they have is being a mother themselves.
So here’s the bad news: being a mum doesn’t give you the right, the experience or the qualifications to judge other mums. We’re all doing the best we can, we’re all providing the best we can for our children.
We are all struggling. All of us. None of us are perfect. None of us get everything right, all the time. We all have good ideas. We all have bad ideas. God knows, I have had some shockers over the years and I specialise in child psychology! Sure, you may believe that only feeding your child organic food is the only way to go, but that person you’re so impersonally lecturing on Facebook or twitter may not have the money to buy organic all the time (and, just quietly, unless you grow the food in your own backyard from heirloom seeds, how do you even know that that overpriced food you’re buying is actually organic?). You might believe that staying at home with your child is the only way to parent. You could be mouthing off to a single parent, or a woman who’s a better parent when she works – believe it or not, not all women are OTT maternal, or she may just want to work. Who are you to judge?
We are all mums, we should all support one another and the point I’m trying to make is – YOU – yes, YOU are doing a FABULOUS job at motherhood!