I wanted to wrap up “judgment week” with some thoughts that this series of posts has triggered.
I’m guessing that most of us mums are hardest on ourselves when it comes to judging—I know I am. And that’s probably why we’re just so darn good at it. I realized I wasn’t alone when a friend confessed to me that she was mortified that she’d yelled at her daughter when she was a tiny babe. I can bet it was a lot more traumatizing for my friend (who wishes to remain anonymous) than it was for her baby, and she’s been a lot harder on herself about it than anyone who may have overheard would have been.
And what about the judgments we feel our mothers (and mothers-in-law) are heaping upon us? One person commented that she feels “judged all the time, especially by my own mother. She makes it quite obvious that she thinks I am raising tyrants.” Who among us hasn’t had to defend some of the choices we make around parenting to our own parents? And hasn’t been stung by their criticism, no matter how respectfully they couched it? Things have changed a lot since we were little, and by the time we’re grandparents they’ll have changed again and our ideas around parenting will seem outmoded to our kids. (Which will be very frustrating as obviously we’ll know best!)
I don’t think you can ever really appreciate what it means to be a mother til you become one. It was much easier to understand—and forgive—some of the choices my mum made when I had to start making them myself. And once you become a mother you never stop, ever. Just ask the business fellow I had lunch with the other day. I went to get a napkin for myself and tenderly placed one next to his plate too. Because part of my life as a mum is making sure everyone has a napkin. Luckily he’s a new dad so he took it in the spirit in which it was intended.
I do think we owe our mothers (and grandmothers) respect. They’ve raised us after all, and we’ve all turned out pretty well, but I think they could give us some wiggle room too. I just hope I’ll remember this when and if my daughters become mothers. And if I forget I’m sure they’ll find this post somewhere on the Interweb and remind me.
Finally, what about respecting other people’s choices? It’s definitely easier to do if you feel their choices aren’t potentially harming your children or the earth or other things you hold dear. What a wonderful mothering world it would be if all our decisions around parenting were enthusiastically embraced and accepted by all and sundry. But as that’s unlikely to happen, I firmly believe that one of the best things we can do as mothers is trust our own instincts and know our own children, and give other people a break and hope they’ll give us one in return.