Judgment. It’s all around us, from the eyes of everyone we meet to the more prevalent and insidious that we call social media. Everyone has an opinion, and not just any opinion, but an “informed” one (informed by whatever they read on Facebook).
Motherhood somehow attracts a lot of judgment. Every little thing you do is scrutinized. You’re either wearing something that’s too tight (“Kind of immodest, don’t you think?”) or too baggy (“You’ve let yourself go!”). They wonder about how well you’re eating for your unborn child (“Is that allowed?”). And don’t get me started on breastfeeding. Your child is either too skinny or fat, he’s behind his schooling, he’s too confident, too meek, too rambunctious…too immobile? What does that even mean?
It’s all part and parcel of being a mom. You want to ignore it because it is not your truth. It shouldn’t also matter, but it almost always does. After all, people are criticizing your heart and soul. You sometimes cannot help but wonder whether the experience of pain and discomfort of labor, sleepless nights, loneliness (acute, searing loneliness), and cracked nipples were meant to toughen you up.
At this stage in my life as a mom (and I know I’m still a novice at this whole thing), I’ve learned that it’s all about perspective. I wouldn’t judge my friend’s sharp tongue because I know she’s suffering from something, too. I wouldn’t judge a woman who refuses to breastfeed her baby because she’s 19 and doesn’t know any better. I wouldn’t judge a mom who elects to have a C-section because she’s terrified of labor.
What has motherhood taught me? That none of us are in any position to judge. We don’t know the full story. We don’t know what’s going on when you’re logged off and the cameras are aimed elsewhere.
What we do know is the sound of our children’s breathing, the taste of his lips, the high pitched, demanding voices that can drive us to the brink of insanity. Their smiles, hugs, and tears have found ways to brand our entire being for life. These are the ones we have to focus on.
So let the others talk. Let them judge. And if need be, defend yourself and speak up. But above it all, don’t lose sight of what matters most. Your little ones—and your heart--will thank you for it.
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Ines Bautista Yao is a wife and mother of two little girls, a seven-year-old and a two-year-old. She is the author of young adult and contemporary sweet romance books and blogs about her crazy life as a mom at www.theeverydayprojectblog.com.