You probably wonder why everyone thinks that they’re a better mother than you. Why they give you all this advice, and try to tell you that you’re doing Everything Wrong.
I used to be a “better mother than you”, too. And you deserve an apology and an explanation, even though we’ve probably never spoken before. Even if we do things very similarly.
I used to question the choices of other mothers because it felt like the only way to feel confident in my own choices. It often felt like I was taking the more difficult path, and my reason was “because I love my baby”. Following that logic other paths taken by other people must mean they.. were taking an easy path? Didn’t love their baby as much as I did? I thought that in order to understand why I WAS doing something a certain way I also had to understand why I was NOT doing it the other way.
But then those other mothers seemed like they also thought that I was taking the easy path when I knew that the choice they were referencing wasn’t an easy one at all.
I have found that the more I question the choices of others the more I question my own choices and the choices that my children make.
In the beginning when you’re trying to find your legs you get a lot of advice. And you try a lot of it. And some things work and some things don’t. And you’re frustrated and finding your way. And then you find your footing a bit and you find the things that work and you want to SHARE THEM WITH EVERYONE just like everyone has been sharing with you.
In the beginning when all the people around you seem to question every little thing that you do, it also feels sometimes like you have to fortify your choices by questioning the methods opposite yours.
It’s a false peace.
When I stopped saying “I WOULD NEVER DO WHAT THAT MOTHER/FATHER DID” and instead said “This is what I do and why I do it” I started realizing something. I was free. Delightfully spine tingly free. I had thoughts. I had beliefs. I had reasons. I had ideas. All of which existed on their own merit, not as the anti-other-idea.
I was not building my relationship with my child upon the holes in other methods. I was parenting in a strong, wonderful, loving way that fit my life and the life of my children like a glove.
The more I accept that other parents choose the methods based on what works for them in their life.. The more I fortify myself against the meaningless judgement of others.
When I say “I cannot judge them because I do not know all of the details of their life or their heart” I am also saying that their judgement of me is meaningless for the same reason that my judgement of them would be. They do not know me well enough to pass judgement on my life, and I do not know them well enough to pass judgement on theirs.
I know MY life. And that is all that I need to know. I have put in hard work. I have made healthy choices. I have made loving choices that are right for my heart, my children, my family, my joy.
I don’t need to fortify myself with negative thoughts about alternatives. I have all the positive reasons in the world.
That is where joy comes from. The freedom to love. Heart to heart. With the knowledge and conviction that my choices are joyful and beautiful.
You.. I don’t know you. And I no longer judge you. Instead I look at you and I see someone different from me, with children that are different from mine, in a life different from mine. I see someone strong who is making decisions and exploring options. I see someone who is living her life and making loving choices that are right for her heart, her children, her family, and her joy.
I don’t judge you anymore. I never had the right to pass judgement on your choices. I don’t waste time wondering if you could be doing things better. I spend my time wondering what I can do better, and finding those answers and being the best mom that I can be for my children through my choices which may very well be different from the best choices that you make. Not “better”. Different. As different as you and I, and as different as the children that we raise.
Instead I smile. Because I see the love in your eyes when you look at your sweet baby. And I know that for all the difference in the choices that we make.. We are making choices of joy.