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.