Monday, December 17, 2012

Mother Knows Best

or does she?

I wrote the following in 2005 - well before I moved to Paradise, before I met V, before Paris was even a twinkle in anyone's eye...

(I was actually trying to find a poem I wrote many years prior to put up, but don't have it on disk here - and found this.  It was in response to a friend on a board feeling shattered by the judgements of others.)

... I remember how judgemental I found other people (and especially other mothers) when I had a young baby.

No matter what aspect of motherhood you look at, there are MAJOR judgement calls being made.

Do you breastfeed? Do you formula feed? Are you using fast or slow flowing teats? Do you use a dummy? Do you let your baby cry? Do you pick your baby up at the first whimper? Do you carry your baby everywhere? Do you leave your baby in the pram? Do you let your baby have the required amount of tummy time each day? Do you put your baby in the sun? Do you put sunscreen on your baby? Do you dress you baby warmly enough? Do you give your baby nappy free time? Do you use cloth or disposable? When are you going to toilet train?

Can your baby roll/crawl/walk yet? Is s/he still using a dummy? Can s/he climb stairs? Has s/he said their first word? Do you use a sipper or a cup? Does s/he like the water? Can s/he swim? Are you going to lessons? Do you get in the water?

Does s/he sleep in a cot or a bed yet? (Your bed?) How come you separated? Is his/her father in his/her life? Do you get child support? Do you have a job? Do you use childcare? A centre or in home? (A relative?) Do you go out at night? Have you got a good babysitter? Are you drinking too much? Is s/he still using baby language? Are you toilet-trained yet? Do you leave a light on at night? Does s/he sleep in his/her own bed all night? Is his/her father in his/her life? Does s/he miss him much? You're still single?

Are you going to have any more? Can s/he stand on one leg? Does s/he like The Wiggles or Hi-5? Do you let your child watch videos? Can s/he concentrate through a whole movie? Are you still giving him/her baby food? Do you feed your child junk food? Do you let your child have lollies? Do you give your child softdrink? Do you let your child go on the rides? Do you have a pet? Does your daughter/son want a sibling? Oh? Is his/her father in his/her life? You're still single? Why did you separate?

Does your child go to kindergarten? Do you work? What do you do for fun? Do you get to talk to any other adults? Do you reminisce about the old days? Do you recognize yourself in the mirror? Is s/he swimming yet? Can't s/he control her anger/crying/words/body? Does s/he recognize the alphabet? Can you chase away the monsters? Do you know about Jesus? Why do people die? Can I have a new mummy?

Does your child go to preschool? Are you on a committee? Do you work? What do you do for fun? Why do old people have wrinkles? Isn't it sad your family aren't nearer? Why can't you accept help? Do you always make your quiches runny? Why did you separate? Does my nose twitch? Is Black Beauty a boy or a girl? Can I marry you? Why can't sons/daughters marry their mothers? Have you ever gone camping while s/he was younger?

How do you do it? Are you going to home-school? Can your child read? Can s/he sing? Play a team sport? Play chess? Play? Do you let him/her watch The Simpsons? Do you let them bathe and dress themselves? Do you make him/her cut the sandwiches? Do you give him/her full cream milk? Do you still have his/her bottle? Do you give him/her logo'd clothes? Does s/he tie his/her own shoelaces? Do you use velcro still? What do you do for fun? Have you ever wanted another one? Are you still single?

Why can't the whole class come over to have a party? Why can't we have a kitten? Why is that man so short? Why can't I come in your bed? Do you work? Do you use Before and After School Care? Are you on a committee? Can you make something for a stall? his/her father in his/her life? Does s/he miss him much? How come you know those people? Have you ever seen a triple rainbow? Do you speak English at home? Is your family close? Why did you chose that school? Should I say something? What should I do? Did you ever hear from that guy again? Why can't I have an icecream now? Do you let your child eat icecream? At 10 in the morning? At 9.30 at night? Do you have a bedtime?

Can your child read? Can you spot a bully? Is your child a bully? Is your child being bullied? Are you a bully to your child? Do you let your child bully you? Is that the same outfit? Is that new? Can you afford that? Do you work? Are you on a committee? What do you do for fun? Do you drink? Do you find yourself drinking more? More often? Alone? Do you talk to strangers? Why can't we talk to strangers? Do you know that stranger? Do you recognize yourself in the mirror? Does your child do drama? Do ballet? Play team sports? Run? Exercise? Watch television? Talk to him/herself? Bite their nails? Pick their nose? Cry at a pinprick? Never laugh? Are you overprotective? Do you know where your child is? What is your child doing?

Hopefully sleeping right now - as should I be... The problem with the questions are, there are always several ways to answer - and generally whichever way you chose there is a risk of condemnation... It doesn't necessarily get any better - but you train/trade in your friends, you ignore the obvious scolds and you get selective hearing.

Now I have a teenager and a husband, some of the questions have changed - as have some answers - but one things remains the same. 

In some sectors of matronly society (not all, thank goodness, or I would have NO friends), competition is fierce, and the quickest way to win is the cut your competition down.

Have you ever felt judged (or judgey)?  And what is your pet peeve?

(I will fess up - apparently mine is Candy Canes...)


Leenie said...

So many of us are so quick to judge, especially when we are young and think we know all the answers. The BIG challenge to parenting is discovering no two children are alike. Just when you think you get it down another one comes along with a whole new set of parameters.

Thank heaven we keep trying and thank heaven we seem to eventually get it right--some of the time.

Maria said...

So true.. I forgive a lot of it, because I know it often comes from insecurity and wanting to know how others are doing.. that others aren't 'perfect' and that it's ok to be 'imperfect' too.

But I have had, very sadly, to cut a majorly judgemental family member out of my life. Parents of young children are the worst. They have yet to learn that despite your best efforts the world is not totally under your control... that being a parent can be so HARD that what's most needed is compassion and a shoulder, rather than comparisons and advice.

I feel like carrying around a ribbon to give to those parents who feel they need recognition for being 'better than' everyone else. You know.. "Wow, you are so amazing and better than me.. here, have this ribbon.. (some applause..) Now please just revel in your smug self satisfaction and give up on your constant vigilance for proof of your superiority".

BUSH BABE said...

What a great list of questions... I wonder if sometimes people just need to find out where they sit in comparison all the time? It would be such a great void of need they could never possibly fill.

I wonder also if I have inadvertantly asked these questions myself (the answer is probably yes, with the rider that I usually genuinely want to know because I am one heck of a stickybeak!).

The trick, of course, is to feel secure in your own life decisions. Not always easy or possible. Sometimes you've just gotta fake that part!

In case you are wondering, you stack up pretty darned well in my eyes (I do hope you already knew that?).


Debby said...

Yes. I am judged. I have a daughter who has problems. When there is upheaval in her life, I am judged by everyone looking in on the situation.

My pet peeve?

Gosh. I don't know. Probably people who feel that they know you better than you know yourself.