When Did I Become a Judgemental Mommy?
Today, Jack and I went to Tesco. This isn’t at all unusual. We went to one of the smaller branches, choosing the one that I figured we’d have the best luck getting one of the parent and child parking spaces. As I pulled into the car park, I could see all the spots were taken. As a couple finished packing their shopping into their car, I began to get angry. A righteous, maternal anger.
This couple, in their 60s, did not have a child with them. They simply wanted the better, bigger parking spot. As soon as I spotted this, I was glad I forced the guy to do a shuffling little run back to his car. I had won. Jack and I had won. But then, as we got out of the car, something rather horrible happened.
The woman in the car next to me was messing about with her kids. I was certain I got a look when I lifted Jack into the base of his pushchair. I’m also certain I didn’t. I assumed she was judging me because I know I was judging her. I judged her for her Baby Bjorn-bound child. I judged her for her Maxi-Cosi seat in the front of the car while her older daughter clambered around in the back seat. I felt superior, with Jack correctly in the back seat, a selection of wraps and slings ready for use in the foot well.
This isn’t the first time I’ve caught myself being a judgemental mommy. It’s something that I experienced before Jack was even born. It’s like at the instant of implantation, you also get this little twinge of judgement. You begin to see what every other parent is doing wrong, what you’d never do wrong. Because, of course, in every scenario you do know best.
There’s so much written about the bitter judgement mothers face. Whether it’s the never-ending breastfeeding battles, the carrier contention, the sleeping sparring, or appearance arguments, it’s always there. A friend commented recently that she was glad she didn’t have her kids in the era of Facebook, explaining that the constant arguments about how to be a good parent is a stress that no mother needs. It’s true. While the internet has given us the ability to quickly look up things like how to give a baby a shower, what this rash might be, and what the lyrics are to every nursery rhyme ever written, it also gives us the opportunity to cluck and click our tongues at others.
The flip side of this is knowing that you are also the subject of such judgement. And this can be crippling. There are parenting decisions that I’ve made that I keep quiet just because I know they will be judged.
So today, as I mentally criticised both the older couple who had abused the parking space (and the other two cars that were abusing the spaces when we came back to the car) and the mother of two who was doing things the way she thought best, I began to wonder when I became this judgemental mommy type. It’s been there for months, I know, but why did it get there and is there a way to switch it off?
Maybe this is one of the curses of parenthood. As much as I don’t want to be that type of mother, I’m always going to be observing how others are doing it. And I know I’m always going to see what they’re doing wrong. And, looking at me, so will they. The question is how do we control our judgements.