When I was younger I used to love playing mortal combat, the street fighter one where you just press a whole bunch of buttons and just go crazy and your little street fighter goes mental and jumps up and down and throws fire and shit. Well they don’t throw actual shit…from what I can recall. But you get it. I didn’t actually know how to play, I just pressed the buttons and hoped for the best.
These days I feel like my life is a constant game of street fighter. I’m jumping around like a crazy person, pushing the random buttons and hoping for the best in this game we call motherhood. And sometimes there is actual real life human shit.
But I have been feeling more and more alone in this game of late. Because motherhood has become a competition. And I am quite frankly sick of it, over it, done with it. I’m out!
I have a good friend. If I have a shit day I can send her a message and say “I’ve had a shit day” and list all the ways I’ve been a #shitmum (an actual serious hashtag now) and she will listen to me, and then tell me all the ways she’s been a #shitmum and we realise that we aren’t really shit mums. We’ve just had a shitty day. And I am so grateful to have her, because I can genuinely tell her anything and I know it’ll be okay.
But out in the big wide world, and even amongst our friends, there is just so much bullshit judgement for mothers who dare to do something that another mother does not approve of. I read an article not long ago where the theme of the article was that it was okay to judge other mothers. By the end of reading it I was in tears. By her standards…well, I mean…was she in my house? Was she writing this article from inside my house?!
It’s just a constant stream of ongoing criticism. I saw a meme the other day that said “if you don’t breastfeed, you’re a selfish c**t!” And this was posted in all seriousness. The person who posted it genuinely believed what they had posted. I’ve already written my thoughts on the breast vs bottle debate, which you can read here. But in follow up to that, I would like to extend my thoughts to basically everything.
If you are trying your god damn hardest and are doing your best in this motherhood gig…well mama, I’ve got your back. I pledge to you that I will not send or share articles trying to educate you on the benefits of extended rear facing if you’ve decided to turn your baby, I also will never try and tell you to forward face your baby if you’ve kept them rear facing until they reach high school. I will not ever tell you that if you do let your baby cry at bedtime that you are damaging them psychologically. I also won’t tell you that feeding or cuddling your baby to sleep or picking them up every time they cry will lead to a “spoiled” baby! I will not judge you if you take your eyes off your kid for a second and your baby goes and plays with a gorilla. I will never hashtag anything with #knowbetterdobetter. I will not tell you that co-sleeping will damage your child or that you shouldn’t pat them to sleep.
I can tell you that I’ve done it all. Except the gorilla thing, I mean I’ve lost my kid. But thank god it wasn’t at the zoo. I’ve had three babies, this does not make me an expert in anything other than knowing that I have no idea what I’m doing most of the time. That all my babies are completely different. I’ve breast fed exclusively, mix fed, extended breast fed, bottle fed, cried it out, patted and cuddled to sleep, co slept, breastfed in public without a cover *gasp* turned my babies car seat before the first year, started solids early, puréed, baby led weaned, fed my babies food from a packet…I’ve done all of it. And you know what? I love my babies. I would do anything for them, I literally do everything for them, but I love them. And they know they’re loved.
If you can look at my children and tell me which one I did what with, then I’ll let you judge me. But until then…back the hell up! It takes a village, right? Let’s build the village and raise each other up and stop tearing each other down just because we do things differently to each other. The one thing we have in common is that we are mothers. Let’s stand on that common ground and just do it together!
And please don’t mistake this for me excusing actual child abuse. Because I’m not. But these things are not child abuse (no matter how hard your google search supports your views). They’re parenting choices. We don’t have to do it the same. We truly don’t have to.
I remember when I was a “perfect mother”. Back before I had children. Now I know better. So I do better.