Monday, June 13, 2011

judgement

It has been pretty cold here of late. Cold enough that leaving the house requires a coat and maybe even a warm hat and boots.

Except Willow absolutely hates wearing jumpers and jackets.

We were off to run some errands in our town which required some walking around out main street and it was about 5 degreesC. Before we left I got everyone all rugged up and when it came to Willow I told her how cold it was outside and offered her jacket. She said she wasn't cold. I opened the front door and asked her to test the outside air where there was no central heating to luxuriate in. She did and still refused.

I respect her right to choose no jumper. It's her body. I don't always feel zen about it but I try.

I packed the jacket and a warm hat for if she decided she needed it. We got to the shops and the wind chill factor was brutal but Willow didn't seem bothered. I put the jacket & hat in the pram and off we went.

As we walked towards an older woman I noticed that she was staring in disbelief that there was a child out in that cold without a jumper. She flashed me the FILTHIEST of looks and tut tutted me. I pretended I didn't see her and called out "Willow-do you want your jacket yet?" Waving the jacket at her. Willow refused and went back to skipping along.

Later I thought about how much I felt like I had to prove to this random stranger that I was a "good" mother! That her judgment of me mattered when I knew exactly how the lead up to a 3 year old out in a long sleeve T-shirt in the freezing cold had happened. I knew that the jacket was in the pram and Willow knew it was too.


Why, as mothers, do we seem to feel the need to prove ourselves to other people?


I know I have had moments where, rather that just being with my child in the throws of a meltdown, I have worried more about what other people are thinking of us and put my need to be seen as a "good" mother first. I know when my kids have done things that might not be considered compliant I have felt embarrassed because I worry about how I will be viewed rather than just trusting that my kids are doing the best they can. I have felt the sting of being judged as "too soft" or having "sooky kids" for not forcing them to be independent before they are ready or for taking their fears or hurts seriously.

And the list goes on..

For using dummies, for getting a scan, for birthing at home, for tandem feeding, for not breastfeeding long enough, for using a pram, for using a sling, for co-sleeping, for not having bedtime, for not having unlimited food choices, for unschooling.....and on and on and on...

Luke and I feel comfortable with the decisions we have made around raising our girls. We know the back-story and process that goes into how we parent-and we don't owe an explanation or a seal of approval to anyone. The only people who's opinion should matter is that of our children.

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Thing is there will always be someone who thinks you are doing the wrong thing. Always someone willing to pass judgment on your parenting. Always someone quick to form an opinion without knowing the full story. You have no power over other people's thoughts.

But you do have the power to be true to yourself and your children.


I'm joining in with Owlet for unschool Monday

22 comments:

Caz (The Truth About Mummy) said...

What a great post! Having met your lovely girls and seen how happy, healthy, well mannered and beautiful they are I'd say you must be on the right track!! Funny how there is such pressure - no matter what you choose. Well written and well said!

Glowless @ Where's My Glow said...

You should check out the site "That Baby Looks Cold" - it's a collection of unwanted advice from strangers.

I feel judged for still breastfeeding, and Tricky is only one, so I have no idea how I'll feel if we make it to my "goal".

My friend who her boy EBM exclusively used to want to put a label on the bottle because of the critical stares she felt directed her way.

Deborah said...

Shae, I totally love this post. That is all I have to say.

Lauren said...

Fantastic post, Shae. I think we've all felt those looks which are really just a reflection of the person's own baggage. A little compassion certainly wouldn't go astray.

PlanningQueen said...

I know exactly how you feel. After baby number 5 was born the toddler decide he only really wanted to wear his board shorts and rashie - even when we reached autumn and winter. "Isn't he cold?" I would get asked all the time. I would answer no - on days when he is cold he puts on a hoodie. Even now he still wears t-shirts and shorts most days and I can see exactly what people are thinking. It used to bother me, but I am too busy too let it worry me now!

If someone does make a remark about getting sick, I will generally say something though. Debunk the myth that being cold means you will catch a cold and tell them how healthy my kids are!

Louisa said...

I don't read your blog regularly enough Shae, this is a great post! (So are the many others I've just sat here reading). I get this too and really, life is just too short!

Miss Pink said...

It is hard when you feel the judgement of others. But know that no one knows your full story, they're only judging at a glance and probably not meaning any harm.
Some people need to pass judgement to make themselves feel better about their choices or life. It's not really a nice thing, but it's a human thing.

I find it shocking that people would look at you rugged up, your baby rugged up and not think "Ahhh a toddler being a toddler" Sometimes it's easier to let our children see for themselves we are only trying to give them sound advice and help them out, and if it were me? I'd have done the same thing.

Sazz said...

I hear you and am so glad to hear you say it :) We have a kid who likes to run through rainy streets at night, naked.

One day at the bus stop it was cold and she was in a t-shirt, happily playing. We knew she didn't need the jumper, but the eyes, a crowd of them, watching her, looking at us expectantly. I ended up saying loudly to her "Hey Harri, I know you don't feel cold or want your jumper, but do you think you could put it on just so all these people stop judging us for being negligent parents?" That worked a treat lol, she said no, we laughed, someone else laughed, a couple more people rolled eyes and moved away, and everyone else got to the underlying "please do fuck off" :)

Bron66 said...

Good on you! I so often feel the same. I have such a struggle with them sometimes about silly things I should just let go. Keeping warm is definitely one thing! They were running around in bare feet today and I really struggled not to say anything. At least it wasn't quite snowing!

Marita said...

Brilliant post.

And can I just say I'm with Willow on this - I loathe wearing jumpers, jackets etc, feel constricted in them and would much rather be cold than wear them at all.

I've spent several winters in Melbourne now with people looking at me in disbelief asking 'aren't you cold'. Can only imagine how much harder that would be to ignore when it was my parenting they were judging rather than personal clothing choice.

Grace said...

Judgement *sigh*. It's everywhere, isn't it ???
But you nailed it - we need to stay true to ourselves.
Great post, Shae.

tinsenpup said...

You are so right. I think many of us feel judged regardless of what we do or don't do. The village raising the child has become the village judging, giving disapproving looks and making snide comments. It's a little perverse when you think of all the genuinely neglected and abused children in this country.

Easy Peasy Kids said...

Fab post, Will show it to the mums I work with. No one has the right to judge. . Do what you feel is right.

Tara @ Mum-ments said...

Oh you worded that perfectly hun!
Judgement is such a hard part of motherhood to handle! I struggle with it quite badly
Add speech and behavioural issues and i can forget running for mother of the year in some people eyes! Lol

I dont understand why people especially the older think they are any better then us!
To me you were empowering your daughter with freedom of expression and teaching her its ok to make her own choices! And of course cause & effect
Its a shame many other people out there dont see it the same way, really its all a big life lesson

Great post hun i think alot of people especially mothers will relate
xxx

frogpondsrock said...

Good post hunny bunny. Love to you xx

Lulu said...

This is so true. Great post!

I have a lot of issues here with the way I raise my kids compared to the more Japanese style. Small things like the fact the kids have their own beds/rooms (although they can sleep with us at times- after the big earthquake we all slept in the living room in case we had to get out in a hurry), I bf in public (but cover up), N doesn`t drink juice (He can, I just give him water instead), I speak English to them. A lot more but I won`t go on- basically though I am judged constantly about the way I raise my kids.

It is hard to not let it get me down sometimes but you are completely right.

Megan Blandford said...

Agreed! I'm so over the judgements. Look at your girls - happy, healthy, beautiful. That's it, that's all that matters. x

Aspiring Millionaire said...

I understand this 100% and your post is beautifully written.

I suffered a lot of judgement with my 2 daughters for not breastfeeding at all, little did people know I am medically unable to, my milk is useless and my first daught lost so much weight that despite being born healthy she still looked premature at 2 years old.
My younger daughter does not feel the cold, but gets very hot and sometimes sweats in winter. Rugging her up is not good, so I understand the judgement on that too.

It can be so hard being a mother, but now I just don't let any of it bother me. I know I am doing what is best for my kids and that's all that matters.

@ Sazz, I have done similar, lol. love it.

Dorothy said...

Stuff the others, Shae. You're the mum. You're in charge. Just ignore them.

shae said...

Wow! Have really loved reading all these responses and knowing that I'm not alone :)

Jodie Ansted said...

Well said!

I remember one time a couple arriving at the cafe where I was eating breakfast with my husband and kids. One of their kids had a MASSIVE tantrum. Well, haven't we all been there?

There were two little old ladies sitting at the adjacent table, and they were shooting them filthy looks and tut-tutting away - no doubt assuming the mother wouldn't discipline her child. (Her husband had left to order food.) When the husband got back, the wife said, "Let's just go. This is too difficult." And he told her no - they were going to stay and weren't going to leave because of one child playing up and i thought HURRAY! That poor mother had a newborn too, so you can imagine she probably didn't get out much, and she was going to throw it all away because of two busy-bodies who can't remember what kids are like, obviously.

Do your own thing. You know best for your kids, not that silly judgmental lady!

Kimberley said...

Parenting in public can be so hard. Relating with ANYONE in public can be hard, being that we're vulnerable to scrutiny from strangers - people who don't know our back story - but I find a parent-child relationship is the hardest one to put on display because of the view the majority of people in western society have about children (& also about women).

I am my own worst critic when I'm aware we're going against the grain in public. I speak loudly, I state the obvious, I try ever so hard to win the approval of the people around us, because I don't want someone thinking I'm "bad".

I really relate to this post, particularly now since people sticking their nose in where it isn't wanted & feeling free to express their negative judgement of us has been a hot topic at our place these last few days!

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