In the past I have been guilty of this. I judged. I’m a judger. I feel terrible about it. I wish I could take it back. But the fact is I looked at what people did with their kids and I judged..sometimes harshly.
In my defense; I have realized, since becoming a parent, that being judged seems to be a part of the job description. It’s almost as though the second people find out you are pregnant they seem to think they know better than you. Some people share their opinions or advice with you, wanted or unwanted. Others just judge you silently, behind your back, shaking their heads at what they deem to be the “wrong way” to do something.
When I was pregnant I had so many people tell me sooooo many things. I was told that I shouldn’t continue to exercise by some, then someone else would tell me “Oh you HAVE to exercise!”.. I was told not to eat something, say dairy, then a moment later someone was shoving a yogurt in my face telling me I had to make sure I was getting enough calcium. I was told I shouldn’t lift things and I shouldn’t exert myself and I shouldn’t…shouldn’t…shouldn’t…!!!
It was all very overwhelming, especially the first time around. You would think it was just older people doing it, but no, EVERYONE does it. Everyone thinks they know best. Someone who had a baby 30 years ago thinks they are more knowledgeable because they have been there done that…but let’s face it times have changed. 30 years ago women smoked while they were pregnant and thought nothing of it.
Women who had recently had kids gave me all their unasked for advice constantly, assuming that they were in fact the experts because they had just gone through it. I remember one fellow mother spent a good half an hour going into great detail of the pain of childbirth with me, about a week before I was due. I mean who DOES that???? She then laughed at me when I suggested I wanted to try a natural childbirth. I left there feeling terrified and very alone and unsupported.
I saw people roll their eyes when I said that I was staying away from peanuts because there are studies that show that if you have a history of allergies you may want to stay away from certain foods while pregnant or breastfeeding to help prevent your baby from developing allergies. People would gasp when they found out that I was still going to the gym, running, lifting weights etc…well into my pregnancy.
Then once the baby arrives it just gets worse.
If we should breastfeed or formula feed, where to breastfeed, when to bottle feed. Where the baby should sleep, how they should sleep, when they should sleep. How to bathe them, feed them, rock them, change their diapers…everything. There were times where I thought maybe I should wear a sign that said “No advice wanted please”…kind of like those signs some people have on their front door “No solicitors please”…I don’t think that would have worked though. Someone would have just judged me on the fact that I didn’t want the advice. And it wasn’t even that I didn’t want advice. It was just that EVERYONE has an opinion and it becomes so overwhelming when so many people are telling you conflicting things. Oddly enough it wasn’t even my family doing all the advice giving, my mum and mother in law tended to give advice when asked, it was coming from people who I really didn’t even know all that well!
I did a lot of research when Mr. T. was born. I read everything I could get my hands on. I had access to some of the best pediatrician’s out there because of our connection to Sick Kids and trust me I asked every possible question one could ask. I even emailed Mr. T’s surgeon to ask her opinion on circumcision when we were making that decision. She gave me so much medical information on the procedure that my decision was an informed one.
That being said Mr. C. and I faced this new job of being parents with a wealth of information. All of our decisions were well thought out and investigated. We had an idea in mind about how we wanted to raise our children. What was important to us and where we were willing to be a little more relaxed.
Yet we are still judged. Wether someone thinks we are going overboard with our no processed foods in their diet rule or doesn’t agree with the fact that we have our kids on a strict schedule, there always seemed to be someone who had an opinion on the decisions we made regarding our kids.
I had a very difficult time with this. I am a pleaser. I like people to be happy with the decisions that I’ve made. I like it when people agree with me. I like to know that I’m making people happy. SO when someone would roll their eyes in response to one of our parenting decisions it really hurt me. I took it personally. I felt like that person was thinking that I was a bad parent. In turn, that would make me angry.
Now here I am, 2 kids and almost 3 years into the job and I’m realizing that being judged just comes along with the territory. People we come across with kids think their way is the right way and our friends who are still without kids just can’t understand what it’s like. No matter how much you think I NEED a night out…you will be warm and cozy in your bed while I’m being woken up by a certain Mr. T who is doing “flips” on my bed at 7 in the morning. And that’s if I’m lucky and Ms. J doesn’t wake me up wailing at 2, 3, 5 and 6! So please don’t judge if I choose not to partake in the late night affairs anymore.
I am trying with all my might not to let the judging get to me. It’s not always easy because of my personality. I’ve realized that my frustrations tend to be more because I am actually seeking approval and when someone is judging me on my decision they are obviously not approving, which leads to some anxiety on my part. This is something that is a work in progress. Becoming a parent is making me more thick-skinned. I’m slowly starting not to care what people think. I’m also realizing that not everything is so black and white. Raising children is a difficult, life long task and what works for one family may not work for another. My family is my priority and Mr. C. and I are working together to determine what works for our family. At the end of it all, what matters most is my children and our family.
I have also become more aware of my tendency to judge others on their parenting decisions. I look at some of the parenting decisions that some of my fellow mum’s and dad’s make and I don’t agree with them. It’s not what I would do with my children. Now instead of thinking that they are wrong and I am right…which is what I used to think I will admit….I now think to myself whatever decision they are making, they are making it with their child’s best interest at heart. So who am I to judge that?