Have you seen this photo essay on mom’s not judging each other? My cousin posted it on her Facebook page. I was sort of shocked by the responses I saw on her feed: a litany of the things that other mother’s have felt judged for: breast feeding, not breast feeding, having an only child, having several children, the list goes on.
The truth is in motherhood we are all by the seat of our pants, even if you think you know things. I’m a psychic. You think that might give me an advantage in mothering. But I agonize over things that other parents do too. (How to get my children to sleep through the night in a way that is comfortable to me, for example. How to get my headstrong son to follow my directives without corporal punishment.)
In mothering, shit comes up. And you don’t always know how to deal with it. I have a fool-proof method for getting answers in my life. I wrote a book about it. I put this into play all the time. I know that it works, and when I give talks on it I say things like, “I don’t care if you don’t believe me. Do this, and you’ll learn for yourself that it works.” It’s true. All of it. It’s also true that sometimes getting the best answer takes time. And as a mother especially, sometimes you don’t have time. You’ve got to think on your feet. You’ve got to make decisions in a flash, and sometimes you are literally too sleep deprived or exhausted to access that part of your brain where higher intuitive thinking reigns.
It sucks to feel judged. Especially if you may already be feeling bad about the choices you’ve made, or how the situation is going, or how your child is acting, or whatever. It’s true that at times we all may be blind-sighted when it comes to our own children and positive solutions too.
But when I think about this I can’t help but think there is a bigger oversight here. Judging others assumes that we should all be the same. Every single person on this planet without exception is unique. It sounds cliché- but it is completely true. There is not a-one-of-us exactly alike. I’m a writer and a psychic. My brother is a clogger and a potter. My husband is a carpenter. Even if we can’t see it or understand it, we all have our piece in the puzzle.
If you’re raising another human being, you are, without realizing it or not, adding to the cacophony of absolutely unique (in every way) beings that populate this planet. That means in allowing for your child’s temperament and adding into the mix your own authentic values and self, including your spectacular successes and walloping failures— you are doing what you as a parent have been called to do: grow a unique person. In truth, there is no other way.
So, don’t think yours is the only way; or on the flip side, that you’ve got to be like them. It’s not, and you don’t. By all means, give advice if it’s asked. Take it if you need it. Have your own opinions and choose to raise your children in a way that suits your values and who you and your family are. But don’t assume that those ways are the ‘best’ ways for everyone. Or even that those options are necessarily available to others. We all have our own ‘bests’. We all have our own lives. We all have our own ways of being. By giving other mothers the freedom to do their job, you get to do yours: screwing up and succeeding on the tumultuous, often lovely, but always wild ride that every parent has experienced since the birthing of beings began.
Good luck! May the Force be with you.