Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Motherhood: no matter what, UR DOIN IT WRONG



I've been noticing lately how I've become more self-assured over time, and care less about what others think of me or the things I do.  I still care some, of course, and always will-- but I'm not letting other people's (usually strangers anyway) potential negative reactions affect my actions as much as I once did.  I imagine some of this is due to the natural process of getting older and more mature... but I also think that a lot of it is a result of becoming a mother.

See, it turns out that moms are judged constantly (I know, who knew??).  All mothers are terrible mothers, to different groups of people.  If you stay at home, you're teaching your children that women are incapable of supporting themselves in the world; if you work, you are abandoning your children and letting their younger years pass you by.  If you let your child "cry it out" to learn to sleep better you're teaching them that the world is a cruel, awful place where they can't even trust their own parents; if you instead go to them at night every time they call and allow them to sleep through the night on their own terms, you are coddling them and will end up with a needy 15 yr old who still needs Mommy to rub his back to fall asleep.  If you spank you are a child abuser; if you don't you're raising spoiled brats who will never learn rules or discipline.

It doesn't matter if you read to your kid five times a day, or sing them songs, or play games with them, or take them to all their doctors visits, or sit with them for as many hours as they need in the middle of the night when they're sick, or that you love them more than anything else in the world and would do anything for them.  No, because of whatever specific actions deemed UNFORGIVEABLE by whichever specific group at the time, you have been deemed a BAD MOTHER.  End of story.

In other words, no matter what, UR DOIN IT WRONG.

As a result, mothers have two choices: either fall endlessly into deep pit of despair and guilt, constantly questioning your choices and motives to the point of crippling your very ability to make a decision; or grow thicker skin and the confidence to know that you are doing what's best for your kids based on the best of your abilities and current knowledge.  Every so often I find myself gravitating towards the former, but for the most part I think I'm managing to do an ok job of tuning out the judgement.

An interesting side effect is that I have become much more open-minded about different parenting styles and techniques.  I am not perfect by any means and still find myself criticizing other parents from time to time, but usually manage to stop myself mid-thought and remember that I don't know their situation or their motives.  Because motherhood and parenting are not one-size-fits-all, and there seem to be about as many "right" ways to do something, depending on what kind of kid you have, as there are stars in the sky.

4 comments:

  1. amen and amen! I found your blog thru twitter (though now I can't remember how, lol) and I just love it! I SO wish other parents could be equally open-minded and kind. As a mom who has been on both sides of the spectrum on just about every.single.issue (and not always by choice) I know first-hand that there just isn't room to judge. period. Thanks for keeping it real :-)

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  2. Have felt the exact same way...and still do!

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  3. Good grief, I think the Google screenshot says it all (type in "bad fathering" and Google asks if you meant "bad mothering").

    I've been meaning to write you to tell you how great I think D is. And not just because he's my nephew.

    Yes, he had cranky times (when he missed you). But even when in the throes of those cranky times, A) he had a good reason to be cranky (he's a toddler, he was in a strange place with people he barely sees, him mommy was gone, he hadn't seen his daddy for almost a week, he wasn't sleeping well because he was in a strange house) and B) he didn't abuse his crankiness.

    I love the way he says "no," and I realized later that he sounds very self-assured when he says it, and it's not a whiny or prima-donna-y "no." It's purely a statement of fact. When he wants something, he finds a way to tell you; since you gave him the tool of sign language he uses that to communicate most of his needs. Except for that last Sunday morning when he really, really missed you, and he cried a lot, I don't think I ever heard him whine.

    So, this is at least one person who thinks UR DOIN IT RITE.

    (Or you have an alien child who naturally is well-adjusted and self-assured and not whiny. Take your pick.)

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  4. funny, poignant, true and sad, but overall i need to think on this some more, forgive me as i do it out load. :0)

    i tend to feel pretty confident about my parenting choices and feel really great about the job we're doing. for the most part i think we lucked out with an awesome kid who makes it seem easy and makes us look good. i.e. we can't take all the credit, she is who she is. one thing that gives me a sense of confidence i think is that we have made, and will continue to make, extremely conscious decisions in terms of our parenting. so right or wrong (and as you indicated, we KNOW it's wrong!) we *thought* about it.

    as for the judgment thing, i feel that judging people is natural, but i feel like i drastically reduced my judgment of other *moms* almost as soon as I was pregnant. it's like i instantly realized i was about to begin the journey all the moms i'd judged before me had already taken and oh $hit, this is huge, to each his own. Not that I don't slip to judgments when i see people acting in major opposition to my beliefs, i.e. yelling, hitting or in general not interacting, but overall i judge way less now that i have my own kid to worry about.

    anyway, sorry for the rant...i may need to reformat this and repost to my blog. you just struck a chord (as usual)!

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