Motherhood isn’t easy. Not only do we have the weight of our children’s futures on our shoulders, we have to contend with the opinions of everyone on how to do it. If our kids do anything wrong, we’re blamed. Even if our kids don’t do anything wrong, we’re blamed for not giving them even more.
When I was pregnant with my first child, I wailed to my own mom, “People see that I’m pregnant and they keep telling me what to do: what to eat, what to wear, how to give birth, how to take care of my baby! I don’t want all that advice.”
My mother nodded sagely and said, “Getting advice from strangers during pregnancy is good practice. The only thing you will ever get more unsolicited advice on is how to raise your kids.”
She was painfully right. Advice from strangers is one of my least favorite parts of being a mom.
So I love the guest post at Motherlode from a family law defense attorney who is also a mom. She makes a compelling case for minding our own business when we see other parents and kids out in the world. Not just because it’s the polite thing to do. It also makes for a better society and healthier families.
The constant pressure on mothers make us stressed, and stressed out people are less flexible, less giving, less kind. Most of the big parenting mistakes I’ve made have been in response to feeling judged by my peers. I’ll be forever grateful to the preschool teacher who saw me panicking because my daughter just refused to wear the clean, neat, adorable matching outfits I laid out for her and said, “Let her come to school in a bathing suit and galoshes if she wants. She’s three.”
Judging mothers is a way to keep us in our place. We’re pressured to spend so much time and energy on making decorative little sandwiches for school lunches and arranging the perfect birthday party, we have almost nothing left for our own lives. Who has time for political activism or a buidling a career when there are PTA meetings to volunteer at and playdates to plan for?
Giving mothers and children some compassionate breathing room makes us all kinder and more connected. It lets moms and kids take a breath and find the best path for themselves. Ultimately, that’s going to make for healthier families than a system that expects every mom to conform to an impossible image of perfection.