Friday, May 16, 2014

On judging moms...

A friend of mine is expecting, and it's a surprise for her. She didn't plan this pregnancy and had previously planned on never having children. But you know, sex and biology, and baby! She's a really open and honest person and has talked about the difficulties in being pregnant, talked about how her body has changed and how that affects her self-confidence. I love that she is open and honest, because I think that's the best way to be. Sadly, she's also been experiencing some negative comments about becoming a mom. The comments are always something like, "Enjoy the time you have left, because it's so much harder once the baby is here!" She finds these comments to be pretty rude and hurtful, and I definitely agree. Furthermore, they're just not really true. But the sentiment is pretty common, actually. Even after a baby has been around for a bit, there seems to be this culture of whining about how difficult being a mother is. Because I have more than a decade of childcare experience, I've been inside this culture and had to endure so many comments similar to this one. And since it's a week of ranting, then I'm gonna rant about it!

The truth about pregancy and infants and toddlers is that maybe they will make life more difficult or maybe not. Most certainly, life will be a bit complicated, but a routine can go a long way to making that better. Seriously, 99% of the time a child just needs a rhythm to help them sleep better and to behave better. Consistency and rhythm. But I'm not really here to give parenting advice (though I have tons of it from all my years of childcare). The thing that bugs me most is this culture of complaining surrounding parenthood. Women warning other women about the difficulties of pregnancy or going on about the lack of sleep that comes with a newborn or even just the very phrase "terrible twos". It's all so disheartening and shameful. Usually, this commentary is not helpful.

I have had so many friends who have come to me during their pregnancy to talk about what they're experiencing physically but also the judgment they receive from others. It's amazing how a woman's body seems to become a public thing once there is clearly a baby inside. It's ridiculous too. A woman's body is nobody's business but her own, unless she decides to make it your business. Commentary on pregnancy and physical changes are best left kept to yourself!

I've also had so many friends come to me once they have an infant or toddler, sometimes seeking advice, but often seeking a place where they can talk about their choices as a mother without receiving judgment. I'm a good listener who doesn't judge, but I also come with a wealth of on-the-job experience when it comes to tiny humans. I don't know everything, obviously, but I generally have some practical things to say. And it saddens me how often I find my friends in a constant state of defense over their parenting decisions. Whether it's about breastfeeding (or not), cloth diapers, or choices about television watching, there just seems to be so much public judgment constantly spewed at mothers. Especially if it's a mother's first child, this can feel very overwhelming. So again, my advice is to keep it to yourself!

It's interesting to me the things our culture decides to focus its judgment on...like weight or like pregnancy and motherhood. (And certainly other things as well.) And it's frustrating to me to read all kinds of misinformation or to hear conventional wisdom that is just wrong or to console my friends who are experiencing judgment and shaming from everyone...from family to friends to strangers! When it starts to happen around me, if I can't shut down the conversation, I tend to leave the room. I wish that I didn't have to field e-mails from friends about the judgment they're receiving during such an interesting and potentially amazing time as pregnancy. I mean, pregnancy is pretty fucking cool biology happening, and it's hard for me to see people belittling it or throwing shade. I wonder why our culture comes up with these topics that they think are just public territory and they feel they can say whatever they want to whomever. Like, I just want to holler to shut the fuck up, you know?!

2 comments:

  1. Yes, yes, YES! Whether you choose to have kids, choose not to have kids, decide to go through with pregnancy or terminate it, there will ALWAYS be judgment, as if women don't already have to deal with enough shit in this world!

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  2. Word. Why can't people understand that my body is none of your business? I don't understand why we feel it's important to judge everything about a person!

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