Lately, I’ve seen a lot of articles that tell people what not to say to mothers:
What not to say to….
…and on and on it goes.
Sadly, I haven’t come across an article entitled: “You Can Say Anything To Me Because I’m a Grown Up Who Can Deal.” And really, considering what moms do deal with on a daily basis, we really should be able to handle quite a bit, right?
For instance, most new moms (and dads) go without a proper night’s sleep for weeks at a time. Moms dutifully wipe dirty butts, pick boogers out of noses, and clean vomit off of car seats, beds, floors, carpets, and often even ourselves. Moms keep their kids safe during night terrors and sometimes sleep in teeny toddler beds. They clean and tend to wounds, pick hair for lice, and conduct body checks for ticks. Moms sometimes have to deal with school bullies, tough teachers, and those other moms on the playground who play mean girl games.
Breastfeeding moms have to endure the process of feeding or pumping milk in less than ideal situations. Bottle feeding moms have to make sure their gear is clean and ready at all times. Working moms juggle schedules and caregiver needs and guilt, while stay-at-home moms battle loneliness and money woes and anxiety and guilt. All moms deal with nagging, constant interruptions, and thankless task completion each and every day. It’s true that mothering can be humiliating, exhausting, physically challenging, frustrating, and yet rewarding all at the same time.
Considering these clear displays of endurance, tell me, why in the world would these strong women be bothered when someone gives them a condemnatory side glance while breastfeeding in public? Why would these tough moms put much stock in the Crossfit Dad who looks aghast as their children devour a Happy Meal and sugary juice box? Why would a reasonable mom spend any time worrying about the snide remark made by the sanctimonious neighbor after witnessing that mom hauling in tons of formula and the party-size bag of cheeseballs after a trip to the grocery store?
Of course, no one is made of steel. It’s natural to feel uncomfortable when you sense that you are being judged, but why are we encouraging moms to care about something that’s out of their control?
This week, ABC News reprinted a heartfelt Facebook post by mom blogger Laura Mazza, imploring people to stop judging other moms. Mazza explained that we don’t understand people’s individual situations so we should hold off on judging that mom who is breastfeeding in public or that mom who is bottle-feeding, or the other mom that’s scolding her kid loudly, or the one that won’t get off her smartphone at the playground.
It’s a nice sentiment, but let’s get real. No one’s going to stop judging. Being judgmental is as natural as breathing. While Mazza’s post is well-meaning, it might be better to advise women to try to ignore the judgment, side glances, snide comments and rudeness of others and just get on with their busy lives.
Moms walk a tough road that requires a lot of physical and mental strength. It would be nice if the people around us always understood that and tried to make parenting easier. But it’s inevitable that we are going to be met with some jerks along the way that add to our load. We don’t need to wish them away; we have the choice to shrug them off and ignore those who don’t approve.
It wouldn’t be the hardest thing you’ve had to do today. Not even close.