A couple of weeks ago, I shared my 8 Things I Feel Most Guilty About on Monday Mornings. The response was awesome, and it was amazing to hear so many women offering support and encouragement, reminding me that there is no need to feel guilty. But while it’s hard to take the judgement of other people, it is even harder to stop judging ourselves.
The truth is that we are our own worst critics. We feed our insecurities by watching how others parent, and we compare ourselves, often unfavorably, to people whose stories we don’t even know. It’s so easy to look at other moms and dads and think, “She’s got it all together. I bet she never forgets to pack her son’s favorite blanket on their trips out of town. I am sure he doesn’t ever send the kids to bed without brushing their teeth.”
But while we are busy admiring how great she looks only six months after the birth of her first child, she is staring at us and wondering just how we manage to be up and out of the house with three kids by ourselves.
Often the judgement we feel turns us into defensive monsters. We start judging other women because we feel so insecure ourselves. We gossip among our mom friends about the one in our group who showed up with vomit on her shirt and a Cheeto in her hair. We comment on the fact that her kid is wearing the same clothes he wore yesterday. And then we doublecheck our own shirt, hair and kid to make sure we are not being hypocritical, because the truth is that we know that the same things we are judging her for could just as easily be said about us on a different day.
We never know what goes on behind closed doors. I’ve been complimented by friends and family on how I keep my cool when my kids are misbehaving. But if they saw me day to day, they’d be astounded at the amount of times I am pulling my hair out and screaming into a pillow because I am overwhelmed at the constant mess, noise and neediness of my own children. It’s easy to show the world your best for a few minutes or a few hours. But it’s so much harder when no one is looking.
I guess it all comes down to how we see ourselves and what we project on others. When I judge someone, it’s because I’m looking at them through a mirror rather than a window. And I think that is true of all of us. We see our own shortcomings, and before we allow them to notice, we’re on the attack. It’s a preemptive strike against mothers everywhere. Better to point out their flaws than to work on our own sometimes. But we’re really just pointing out what we dislike about ourselves.
It is time to end the judgement. End the so-called “mommy wars” where we’re all supposedly out to get one another. It’s time to look at ourselves and see what we’re doing right instead of what we’re doing wrong. Because motherhood is all-inclusive. You don’t need a license or lessons or a nurturing bone in your body to become a mom. But when you want to be better – when you want to do right by your child(ren), you take all the help you can get. Whether it comes from that mom of four who sounds a little condescending sometimes but has her heart in the right place or from the first time mother who reminds you of something you’ve forgotten along the way. We have our tribe. We are sisters in this journey.
Right now, Similac has created a video focused on Real Parents discussing Real Judgement. I was honored to be interviewed by them back at the end of April, and you can see some of my thoughts in the final version. Watch the video here or check it out on Youtube.
The message is simple. Spread support, not judgement. With the help of the Duff sisters, Hilary and Haylie, Similac wants you to commit to #SisterhoodUnite and share your personal story about your challenges overcoming judgement. Head over to their Facebook page and share the one thing you will do to help end the mommy wars.
For me, I am going to start approaching mothers in public and let them know what a great job they are doing. I am going to start reminding them that they are not alone – we are all in this together. I am going to work on looking at myself with kindness and compassion instead of focussing on all the things I feel I’m doing wrong.
What will you do?