It was November 2010 and I was visiting my Aussie bff in London. We’d taken a day trip to Paris on the Eurostar. It was nearing the end of the day- we’d climbed the steps at Sacré Coeur, eaten a crepe, and tried to figure out those free-standing Parisian toilets. Ha!
I was waiting outside the loo for Briony when I heard an American couple next to me. We made small talk. I don’t know how it came up but I said something about being away for my baby for the first time- a 10 month old. The lady, probably in her early sixties, made her opinion known.
“You need to go home and be with your baby.”
Little did she know that I hadn’t slept more than 3 hours at a time for 10 months. I’d nursed until I was raw and then my sweet little man would spit it up all over me. I’d change my clothes sometimes three times a day. I didn’t have time to rattle these statistics- Share about the colic, the YouTube videos of a vacuum sound that would soothe him enough just so I could take a break. Her judgment was known.
Paris was not where I should be.
It appears that since the dawning of the social media craze that we’ve all become experts on parenting & motherhood. Try going on Facebook to make a comment about vaccinations, breastfeeding in public, the cry-it-out method and you’ll see that most covet their own opinion more than their own friendships.
If there is one thing that I’ve learned in 6 years of mothering: It’s a crap shoot.
We align our parenting with our convictions and we hope for the best.
I love psychology authors like Brené Brown. From Daring Greatly, “You can’t claim to care about the welfare of children if you’re shaming other parents for the choices they are making…our job is to make choices that are aligned with our values and support parents that are doing the same.” Obviously she’s not talking about BAD parenting: drug abuse, child abuse, etc- she’s talking about the majority of us, the ones that are TRYING HARD- figuring out ways to get our little ones to sit still through church, pulling our teenagers away from their screens, or trying to make our grocery budget stretch so we can take the kids on some fun outings, or godforbid HOMESCHOOLING. And we wonder why we have Mom guilt?
In her follow-up book, Rising Strong, Brené adds, “Shaming other mothers is not one of the million ways to be a great mom.” Ohmygoodness, YES.
I’m not trying to shame the mom that shamed me. I’m sure she was just remembering the sweet times with her babies (and not the sleepless nights and endless days). Maybe she didn’t realize that it was exponentially cheaper for me to visit my friend when she was living in London versus Australia.
I just hopeful for a world where we chose our reactions to moms a little better. Remember–they probably are trying their best.
**Final thought: consider if you’d say the same thing to the Dad if HE was the one in the grocery line or outside the Parisian toilets! #foodforthought. 😉