I don’t usually write posts like this, but this one has been a personal struggle for some time. I know that I’m not the only one who struggles with this and this is my way of reaching out to those other mommas, so here it goes.
This morning I met up with a girlfriend I haven’t seen in months at a cute little cafe. She was going through a tough time so it was a way to get her mind off of things and at the same time show her how much my baby girls had grown since she had last seen her.
As I was juggling talking with my friend, trying to keep my seven month old occupied, and eating, that was my first meal of the day (11 AM) so I was hungry, I could feel the older couple to my right eyeing me and muttering something. I ignored it, but then overheard the older lady of how horrible it was that I was letting my baby girl eat a napkin while I ate real food.
Now usually I would let my baby nibble on what I was eating, however, my dish had raw eggs so she was definitely not going to get any of that. I got a side dish of fruits for her, though, and was giving her chewed up portions while trying to eat. The lady happened to look over when I was eating my already cold dish when she made the comment. You would think she would end it there, well in my experience that not the end of it so I should have known better.
Before I knew it this woman decides to lecture me as she’s leaving about how bad of a mom I am for letting my child eat napkins while I eat.
Well, she didn’t say it exactly like that, but she might as well have because that is what she meant.
Did she have her own kids? Does she even remember herself as a first-time mom?
She doesn’t know that I breastfed my baby before we left for the cafe, which is 10 minutes from my house.
She doesn’t know that my baby will put everything she can in her mouth at the chance of it because she’s teething.
She doesn’t see how much I love and adore my baby girl, putting my life goals on hold just so that I could spend every growing moment of her infant life with her.
She doesn’t realize that I would never let her “eat” a napkin, but if a napkin distracts her a little so that I could eat some to have more energy for her later then why not?
No, she doesn’t, and she, like every other good-intentioned woman (and sometimes a man) that likes to tell me what I’m doing wrong as a mother, doesn’t care that she doesn’t.
In her mind, she is a voice for my baby because somehow she knows how my baby feels or should feel.
In her mind, she knows and cares more for my princess than I, her mother, do. I mean, of course, she does.
In her mind, she has had her own children and she has done a great job, she thinks. So she’s very qualified to teach me, a young mom who probably doesn’t know a thing about parenting, how to be a good mom.
Does this sound familiar, momma?
The hardest part about being a mom, most of the time, isn’t dealing with difficult children, it’s dealing with other judgmental moms!
I will be the last to say that I am a perfect mom. I am not, but I work hard to improve myself every day. I want the best for my baby and I love her tremendously!
I am my harshest critic, so when another mom gives her unsolicited advice, it’s frustrating. Sure if I’m doing something incorrectly, tell me! I am a new mom so I would like to know how to be better! But do so compassionately! Otherwise,
I don’t need your advice. I really don’t and nor does any other mom.
With that said, I also want to step back and say that no, I didn’t give her a piece of my mind and I don’t suggest you doing so either. It’s not worth it. Save your energy, you’ll need it.
I just smiled and replied that she’s eating fruits with momma now, and went on with what I was talking about with my friend.
The reason for this rant is because I have had this happen to me countless times a week. It’s like at every turn, these moms see the one instance when my baby acts like a baby and it’s my fault.
Or maybe I didn’t put on a hat or socks when I should have, but they don’t see that I did just my little princess pulled them off because she doesn’t like to wear them.
Or I forgot our diaper bag with all the extra clothes and it started to get unexpectantly chilly (we live in California, go figure). My husband goes to grab a blanket from the car while I sit holding my baby to keep her warm for a minute or two. All you see is my baby in a short sleeve onesie and start telling me how bad I am for not dressing her up warmer.
I can go on…
Who knows, maybe you were that mom at one point. In my own experience, I have learned that it’s better not to make a judgment about another mom because you don’t know what she is going through. She most likely loves her kids but her day is not going as planned. And sure there is a small percentage of bad moms who are harmful to their children, so do watch out for those. However, the percentage is small.
Most, if not all, moms I meet adore their babies.
I think a mom friend put it best. She warned me that I would get plenty of advice. So she said there are two ways you can inform a mother about her performance. You can either give a suggestion or you can give her advice. They give the same information except in different ways.
A suggestion allows for consideration. It comes from genuine concern and regard for the individual receiving it. It goes by the way of, “Hey, you’re doing a great job as a momma. I noticed that you did this well but you struggled here. This worked for me when I had my own…”.
Advice, on the other hand, expects a reaction, and usually immediate. It usually assumes that the person giving it has some sort of authority, so it is more direct and upfront. From a mom, it comes by as “You shouldn’t do that. You should do this instead.” It can also just be a plain critique of another mother’s action from the stance of I know better than you. You sort of getting the difference?
Therefore, unless I ask for it or you’re a professional I respect, I appreciate your suggestions but I don’t need your advice.
This goes in defense of every mom who has been there!
To the Mom that Always Gets the Unwanted Advice
You are doing great momma! Don’t let what others say bring you down. Most of the time, they don’t know what they’re talking about.
Here is my suggestion, but you do what you feel and know is best. You are the momma!
You could be kind and nod in agreement. Consider what they say and check over if it has any grounds on improving your mothering, then forget about everything else. Don’t let it get to you, otherwise, because it can build up (something I am also considering for myself).
And if you’re dealing with this on a regular basis, it could come from moms close to you or in your inner circle, let them know and/or make some distance and set boundaries. You shouldn’t have to deal with degradation. Being a mom is hard enough!