Recently a friend shared a HuffPo piece on Facebook that I felt spoke directly to me. It was one of those posts that just went down like a drink of cool water on a really hot day, and I wanted to share it here, with all of you.
The piece–Quit Pointing Your Avocado at Me–is a reminder to all moms that other mothers’ choices are not a judgement on our own. Specifically, other mothers are not doing whatever they are doing AT YOU. In fact, other mothers are just doing whatever they are doing and if you are comparing yourself to them (or imagining they are comparing themselves to you–and finding yourself lacking) it’s about you, not them.
I have to admit, I needed that reminder. I’ve spent a fair amount of my mothering career carefully watching what other mothers were doing and using their choices/actions/beliefs as a gauge against which to measure my own. Many a time I’ve felt like a mother was baby wearing AT ME or extended breastfeeding AT ME or being a SAHM AT ME, constantly feeling like their choices were somehow a commentary on my own.
When a mom at the park pulls out fresh fruit and a metal canister of edamame for her one year old and all I have for my daughter is an apple pouch a Kid Z bar and neon-orange crackers shaped like fish or bunnies or rockets, I wonder why that particular mother has to be at that specific park at precisely the moment I’m trying to sidestep a tantrum by offering less-than-stellar snack options to my opinionated three year old. I mean really, is it asking so much for those kinds of moms–the ones who are SO GOOD at making me feel bad–to just stay home and let the rest of us try to attempt the clearly sub-par parenting we’re barely achieving? When a parent boasts (see, I assume it’s boasting, which just shows how skewed my perception is) that her four year old has never watched a movie, let alone any of the wretched Disney Princess fair, I begin to launch a defense of my own (now seemingly) permissive screen time allowances before I’ve even heard her reasoning.
As parents we make so many choices for our children every single day and we’ve been taught to believe that each and every one of them is of paramount importance. It’s hard not to look for others for reassurance that we’re doing an okay job of guiding these little people into adulthood and I guess it makes sense that when we see others doing things differently, we’re quick to reassess our own choices in light of the ones we see others making.
I think the only way we can judge ourselves a little less is to stop taking it all so seriously, to remind ourselves that most probably, our kids are going to be okay, even if we do feed them only orange and white food for most of their toddlerhood and let them become intimately familiar with the characters of movies or TV shows. Our children will survive–in fact, they will probably thrive–even if we do some things the experts say we shouldn’t. We love our children dearly but we’re human beings with faults and limits and there is only so much we can do. We are not damaging or endangering our children by doing what works for us, even if some articles say we could be doing things differently. Our children will be okay. And in the end, that is all that matters.
So the next time I feel like someone is parenting AT ME, I hope I can remind myself that really they’re not, and that even if they were it doesn’t matter, because my daughter is going to be okay. Actually, she’s going to be great. In fact, she already is. And so am I.