Judgement. It’s everywhere. It starts the moment you announce you’re pregnant and I’m not sure if it ever stops. I’m a little confused as to why this event in a woman’s life leaves her open to more criticism than anything else. Maybe that’s not true – maybe it’s not more criticism, maybe it just stings more. You’re trying to keep your little person alive, relying pretty much on gut instinct, so when someone comes along (be it either a loved one or total stranger) and tells you your instinct is wrong or stupid, then it just hurts more.
The other day, playground chatter with other first time mums turned to the times others have disagreed with our methods. There were three of us, we all parent differently and apparently we’ve all parented wrongly at some point or another. Which only goes to show no one is getting it right – apparently.
Then I was browsing Facebook and a suggested article caught my eye because the headline referred to showering every day despite being a new mum. I couldn’t believe it! Someone had the same immediate goal as me! I had to read it… obviously. The gist of the article was to comfort new mothers that not everything has to be different after having a kid, i.e. you don’t necessarily have to lose/alter your identity in order to be a good parent. Then I foolishly read the comments. I know the internet is a harsh place. Just last week my husband was reminding me that the blogosphere was not the place to put yourself out there unless you could let the negativity roll off you. I hope the author could. Those commenting berated her for perfecting her eyeliner whilst her baby cried. Did it not occur to anyone that maybe that DIDN’T ACTUALLY HAPPEN? And that maybe the author was using her poetic licence? Embellishing? Not letting facts gets in the way of a good story – whatever you want to call it. All she was saying was that it was important for her to continue to wear make up as it made her feel good. And we all know, that a happy mum (or primary caregiver, if we’re being entirely PC) makes for happy kids. It just astounded me – it shouldn’t have, because – well, it’s the internet – but it did.
All I could think, after the musings of the day, was that it all has to stop. The unsolicited advice has to stop. The open judgement has to stop. Incidentally, I’m writing this whilst watching Bridesmaids and the main character just shouted at her best friend (who just ruined her bridal shower) “why can’t you be happy for me and then go home and talk about me behind my back like a normal person?” I think the same applies to parenting. If you have a problem, and my child’s well being is not in danger – I don’t need to hear it. But you are of course welcome to bitch behind my back.
So to those that have gone before me:
1. I’m sorry for simply not understanding what it was like when you became a parent and I apologise for all the times I was a complete and utter fuckwit/gobshite/insensitive moron (delete as appropriate)
2. Please do not take my decision to parent differently from you as a personal affront. I believe we can raise decent human beings with many different approaches. so just because I do something differently, it doesn’t mean that I’m doing it wrong. Well, it may mean I’m doing it wrong but we’re not going to really understand the full ramifications for another 18 years or so. So for now, could you just give me benefit of the doubt that I’m doing my best in trying to raise a kid that is kind, considerate and not quite as soft as me?
And just to round it off, here’s a list of things that should probably cause more offence than the way I choose to parent (note: this list is not exhaustive):
1. I don’t listen to Radio 4. I know that they have some excellent programs – but radio shows that mostly talk – I can’t, sorry…. maybe one day I’ll grow up but that day isn’t here yet.
2. I don’t appreciate the artistic beauty of classical music or any music without words – unless it’s a movie soundtrack. I like movie soundtracks.
3. Art – total philistine – I like what I like, usually because of the colours but that’s about it.
4. I do not enjoy museums – unless you can touch the stuff or play or there’s a big whale skeleton or a giant gemstone….
5. I eat too many sweets…. if I could eat cake for breakfast I would. It’s entirely my fault that my kid says “biscuit” when she means “breakfast.” Apple… tree….
I could go on but this post is probably already too long as it is. So just to finish it off, could we (being the five people reading this) pledge to be a little kinder? After all, we all have different tastes in music, food, literature, film and possibly even politics – is it any wonder then that we will all parent differently too?