It could be the first time it’s ever happened to you, or it could be the 15th. It doesn’t really matter. When you feel judged and shamed as a parent it’s a real kick in the teeth.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve faced judgement from the most unlikely of people. A breastfeeding support worker, impatient waiters, shoppers, friends and sadly even fellow mums.
Wherever it comes from, that moment of having someone there telling you with their body language, a not-so-subtle look or even words out loud that what you’re doing to parent your child isn’t right is one that you don’t forget.
The judgement may be because of a particular parenting choice we have made, or because of something we admit to doing to make our lives a bit easier (CBeebies anyone?). But perhaps the most upsetting judgement comes when our child is kicking off in public.
When us mamas have a baby, pretty much every single waking thought is consumed with what we need to do to keep that little one alive and happy.
It’s the maternal instinct, driven partly by love for our baby and partly by the terror that we might f**k it all up.
The trouble is the phrase maternal instinct implies we know exactly what to do all of the time. But we don’t! I don’t have a clue how to handle my kids 80 per cent of the time.
My only solution is to run through what I call “The List” in order to figure out what need requires to be met.
The List of stuff my kids might be complaining about is simple and includes the following:
A simple case of being a little a***hole
I try to cover all bases when I’m out and about to make sure that none these things become an issue. But sometimes I just can’t stop them from planking out of the buggy, throwing a tantrum about not getting any jelly today and insisting on throwing their food on the restaurant floor.
So you see the thing is, we don’t WANT our kids to be anything but happy. It’s just sometimes they cry and cry in spite of everything we try to make them calm the f**k down. That’s just kids.
Most decent human beings understand that kids will be kids. Most get that sometimes we have to cut corners to get through the day, and that we have our own way of doing things.
But some cannot help themselves when they see a small child disturbing the peace. They dive in with little suggestions like, “is he hungry?”, “is it normal to still be breastfeeding”, “you shouldn’t be giving her a dummy”, “still not sleeping through, that can’t be right surely”, and “in my day children were seen and not heard”.
If you’re already having a hard day with one or more kids shrieking at you no matter how many toys, snacks and other tools of bribery you throw their way, you’re going to be feeling pretty stressed out. A judgemental remark or look can deflate you completely.
For new mummies, the baby blues can make these feelings of inadequacy, the constant fear of doing everything wrong, even worse. So when someone chips in with a negative remark or a tut in your direction when you pop a bottle of formula in your baby’s hungry mouth, it can leave you feeling utterly crushed.
To the mamas who face judgement:
There’s only one person whose opinion matters. And that’s yours.
The only second opinion that matters is your baby’s. They think you are amazing.
Someone who observes you for a few minutes cannot claim to be an expert on your child.
While telling Judgey McJudgeFace where to shove it might feel satisfying, the best solution is to just shake it off.
Don’t let people with no clue about your life and your baby make you feel inadequate.
You’re doing a great job!