Some of you may be all too acquainted with the realm of judgmental other mothers. I have a theory about why mom’s are like this.
I think each of us find our own way through motherhood. We learn to respond to our children in a way that works, and it’s some sort of equation balancing:
1) the unique behaviors and response of our child
2) our own tolerances, beliefs, and abilities
3) the environment and unexpected hiccups that create a context for it all
So that all mashes up and bam! A parenting style is born. A way. Our way. A way that works.
What happens next is that mothers come to pride themselves on this discovery and deem it the “right” way — because it works and we see the fruits of our labor in how amazing our child is. I don’t think I’ve ever been quite so attuned to the subtleties of another human before, not even DH. I think as a mom I’m programmed to see the extraordinary in my child. I must be doing something, right?
But from this, I think some of that judgmental, competitive mom culture emerges.
I was recently judged for coddling Aria and making her clingy. The statement was brutal and direct and condescending. But context is everything. The person came to these conclusions by observing me during the timespan when Aria had thrush, two ear infections, a cold, a rash, and was pushing four new teeth out. All she wanted for several weeks was mom. When Aria doesn’t feel well, she gets quiet and cuddly and wary of strangers. So instead of coming across as ill and in pain, she came across as a needy momma’s girl who won’t let anyone else near her.
Even still, the judgment isn’t wholly untrue. I have a whole post waiting to be written about the pain I feel when I must leave Aria to cry herself to sleep in the night.
The unfortunate thing is that hours later I still feel the deep need to defend myself.
I’m mildly inclined to sit and mutter about how I’m not perfect and that I have both strengths and foibles and blah, blah, blah.
That’s how we’re primed to talk in this country. Every thing we do must be labeled and valuated.
I don’t know if you remember last year when I talked about learning mindfulness as a sublime way of being. I’m back studying it. With mindfulness, there is no valuation given. You simply step back from the stage of life and describe things as they are.
So this is what I do know.
I love being a mom. And I’m Aria’s mom. She and I are going to fashion and mold each other by the time we’re through. Some of her most and least admired features will probably be inspired by me. Some of the less admired parts she may even manage to shed once she’s self-aware enough to do so. Maybe she’ll be lucky enough to find someone like DH to coach her toward the self she aspires to.
Coddled or nurtured, whatever you see through your lens, Aria will be okay. Life is full of opportunities to define and redefine ourselves. For both of us.