Last week, I wrote a lot about my journey into motherhood, which took me in and out of the throes of perfectionism. I like to tell people I’m a recovering perfectionist. I say this knowing that, in my mind, there is the best way to do anything, the absolute way not to do anything, and, of course, the middle ground. The rules I came up with are mine alone and therefore mine to release, but I believe they lead to the root of a much larger issue: mom judgment.
What is Mom Judgment?
Years ago, when I was deep into my spiritual journey to find my best self, I began to read a book called, “A Course in Miracles”, as one of my favorite author’s Gabby Bernstein cited it. Being a researcher by nature, I had to learn the source of Gabby’s teaching versus just following her interpretation. One lesson that hit home with me from the Course was “What we judge in others we first judge in ourselves.” Whoa.
My first reaction to this was to challenge it. I started to run through things about myself that I judge and things I judge in others. Time after time I was able to find a root standard that I either hold myself accountable to be or not to be. At the time, my judgments were more related to body image, work ethic, and how I engaged with the world. If I did anything that was the opposite of my judgments I gave myself grief. If I saw someone doing something I wouldn’t do, I would judge them. In writing this I know I may come across as unkind. I promise you, however, that this is not my intention. I am human and I will fight to give myself the grace I would give to others. The teaching from A Course in Miracles was true.
Judging Yourself and Others
Last week in my blog I wrote briefly about the silent competition I was having with other seemingly perfect moms. To unpack this type of perfectionism (and yes, my own judgment) I had to go back to the teaching from A Course in Miracles. Remember the quote; “what we judge in others we first judge in ourselves.” What I found is that as a new mom I had a list of “good mom,” and “bad mom,” categories. While these categories started with me wanting to be a really good mom what happened was that every time a mom would give me a suggestion I would instantly compare that example to what I considered good or bad! And boom, there you have it, my mom judgment was born.
My mom judgment used to look something like this; I’d be out with a friend just chatting about Henry and we’d get on the topic of, say, screen time. That friend would share with me the amount of screen time they allowed their own child to have and I’d scan the response and decide how good of a mom I was because my answer was the same, better, or worse.
I could take that example and dice it a million ways across child-raising topics. Talk to me about formula, breastfeeding, co-sleeping, reading to your child, when to toilet train, sleeping at night, naps, food, school–you get the picture–and I will scan my own moral compass to sort them. Writing this, it’s almost embarrassing to type I did judging like this for a decent amount of time. It’s also incredibly honest and I believe true for all moms to some capacity.
Being Your Best Parent
We as moms are all so caught up in being the best parent that we exhaust ourselves deciding if we are, in fact, doing it correctly. As social beings, the only way we have to assess this is through comparison, so we get stuck in the trap of judging other moms. But really, whether it’s you or me judging any other parent, what we’re really doing is judging ourselves.
Let me say this to you loud and clear. You and I are raising our children to the absolute best of our ability. There is not a right or wrong answer about any given child raising topic outside of abuse and neglect. Even in those cases, we can all give a little compassion to the parent, whose behavior is completely out of line, but is clearly a person suffering in their own right.
I believe on any given day we are all doing our absolute best given the resources we have. That means if you choose to formula feed until your child can eat but I choose to breastfeed until my children are three, mama, we are both amazing. If you choose mac and cheese but I choose organic vegetables, rock on–our kids are fed. Want to allow unlimited screen time but I do like the French and limit mine? Totally cool. We probably have a different view on media as a whole. Also cool!
In the next few weeks, I’m going to share some of my favorite parenting practices. This doesn’t mean that they’re for all of you and that’s OK. But maybe, maybe, you’ll find something helpful that you’ve never thought about before. It does not matter what choices we make for our children so long as they are born from love.
What does matter, and I believe needs to change quickly, is the need we feel to so strictly judge ourselves and then take it out on other moms (silently or not). Beautiful mama, you are doing the absolute best you can and your only grade card is love!
Keep an Eye on Your Judgment of Others
I try to actively practice non-judgment. What this means is I try to notice when judgmental thoughts are coming up. If I notice a judgment thought popping into my brain, I give it a silent wave and send it on its way. That doesn’t mean I don’t struggle to stop comparing, but it means I’m not willing to live with the judgement of others in my heart.
If I see a mom buying a toy for a screaming child at the check out (something I wouldn’t do), I smile and offer to help load her bags. If a mom shares an opinion I don’t agree with, I ask to learn more or just let it go. And when a mom starts to mom shame another mom, I change the topic fast. Join me in this! Help the struggling mama you see in public, send a little love to a friend who parents differently than you, and show compassion to your fellow beings who are showing up for parenthood the same as you and I. We can change the conversation we’re having with ourselves and the world by just letting judgment go.
Breathe easy beautiful ones, you’re doing the best you can. Me too.