One of my best friends just had a baby a few months ago. Well, if I’m being honest, I’m at the age where A LOT of my best friends just had a baby. Anyway, walking through this journey with her has been so refreshing and beautiful. It has taken my breath away to see postpartum through her eyes knowing how good it can be for a mama. One who I love, nonetheless. I’ve watched it all unfold completely in awe of her; the breastfeeding, the sleepless nights, the staying home and snuggling, the smiles and kisses.
But with every blissful mommy moment comes the unnecessary judgment and forceful (and also unnecessary) opinions of other people. I want to take a minute to focus on thatoh-so-pleasant part of motherhood; the part that fires me up the most, the part that I could bitch about well, forever. I like to call this, “the unwarranted opinions and forceful judgment of people who aren’t you, your partner, or your baby, and therefore, don’t matter”.
If you’ve been pregnant or had a baby, you have joined the club of women who have been constantly bombarded with completely insensitive “advice”. It’s a wonderful club really and I’ve appointed myself president!
I’ve experienced it and I’ve heard it first-hand from my best friends and really every other new mom I know. The warnings, the comments, the “I told you so’s”, and the ever-famous and beloved “just you wait!”. You’re judged for being too careful and cautious but also judged for being too relaxed and care-free with your child. You’re judged for the way you feed your baby and on what schedule, what car seat you put them in, how you soothe them, if you soothe them too much, where they sleep, how you put them to sleep and the list goes on and on…and on. But one thing you can count on with such great certainty is that if you are a new mom you don’t know anything about ANYTHING. That’s right, take a step back and just let all the other incredible moms who have “been there, done that” combine their shitty, unwanted opinions and raise your baby for you. I’m sure it’ll end up perfectly! *rolls eyes*
I know that all of you fellow mothers out there feel this on a deep level, and if you don’t, it’s probably because you’ve been told not to by another very wise person who knows better.
I spent a lot of time in my postpartum, and still do to this day, brooding silently/ venting to all of my friends about all of the judgment and obnoxious comments and opinions you get in this season of life. It’s something that has gotten under my skin since day one and from what I hear…I’m not alone.
I think it’s high time we all team up and share some tools to put in our “Mama Tool Belt” to best combat and deflect this BS.
- Smile and say, “Thank you so much for your opinion!”If you aren’t the confrontational type this response is hand-crafted for you. Instead of acknowledging or further discussing/defending yourself, you’re shutting down the situation right then and there in an extremely polite way. You’re not agreeing or letting them walk all over you but you’re getting the point across with a silent and internal middle finger.
- If the smile and nod strategy doesn’t suit your needs or just simply doesn’t cut it in the moment you could try the “I’m actually doing it this way, and here’s why…”. This one has worked for me many times. When someone offers a piece of advice or tells you to do something a different way it’s important that they know that they don’t, in fact, know everything. And that you DO, in fact, know what you’re doing. By confidently sharing with them what you’re doing and WHY you’re doing it they’re going to see that you know what is best for you and for your baby.
- If the polite acknowledgement or the confident explanation options aren’t your cup of tea or you just need something stronger I, Honest Mama, give you permission to put said person in their place and tell them to “F&*$ OFF!”
You don’t even want to know how many times I’ve wanted to, and then dreamt of, telling off other mothers or just people who try to impose their views and opinions on me…but I haven’t. I’m not a confrontational person and I steer clear from arguments far too often. But what I’ve learned through my mere 3 years as a mother is that I, and only I, know what’s best for my baby. It is MORE than acceptable to advocate for him and my decisions in raising him. I have exercised more than ever before my ability to speak up for myself mostly because I’m speaking up for my baby. It’s easier to do uncomfortable things for the most important person in my world who can’t advocate for himself.
In the end, no two babies are the same just the way no two mothers are the same. Which means that no two parenting styles are going to match perfectly which therefore means that no one, I repeat, NO ONE should be telling another mother what to do or how to do it. Rather than imposing our views on another mom or tearing them down, we should all be working hard to build each other up. Motherhood is scary enough as it is, we certainly don’t need added unnecessary fears from outside forces.
I want to empower my fellow mothers to do you, parent the way YOU know is best for you, and kindly (or not kindly) tell anyone who thinks otherwise to mind their own business. Keep making the best choices for you and your sweet baby and know with absolute certainty that they are right and good because they are yours. This season of life is beautiful and is meant to be so. Don’t let the opinions, judgements, and comments of others diminish that for even a second. Don’t doubt yourself. You are a fierce and beautiful force in this world and you know what the hell you’re doing. You go, glen coco.
Photography // Amanda Meg Photography