I hate gender stereotyping but I’m totally going to be a hypocrite now and say that women can be bitches. Sorry for making such a generalisation but its something I’ve learnt growing up, a lot of women, especially in group scenarios can be catty and sharpen their claws, preying on another female victim. Quite often it’s to boost their own confidence, hide their insecurities and poor self esteem. It often seems to be a bit of a pack mentality and contest, almost “Mean Girls” style. In fact on the subject of films, I now relate to the frustrations of the main characters in Bad Moms.
The thing is, it’s hard being a mum and you have to make a lot of choices and best guesses as to what your child needs and what methods your going to use which you think are best for your baby and your way of life but this also comes with a lot of judgement. People are so quick to comment on your decisions and for some reason manners, tactfulness and emotional intelligence often go out the window (similar to when you’re planning your wedding or buying a house) and it can hurt when you feel your parenting is being questioned. What makes it harder is when you feel it coming from other mum’s.
I feel lucky, I’ve always had a strong friendship group that have supported me through a lot of things and I feel I have a good network of mum’s (old friends and new) that are there to lend a friendly ear and suggestion for surviving a phase or best way to approach different parenting methods. However, I’ve also faced the mum’s who want to bitch and back bite. The fact remains though that every baby is different as is every family and mum and actually whether you co-sleep, baby led wean, purée feed, bottle or breastfeed, baby wear, hypnobirth or elective c-section, there always seems to be someone who wants to pass judgement. When really all that should matter is the well being of the baby and mum, for example I chose not to co-sleep and battled through difficult nights during the fourth trimester, reassuring Baby P that she was safe in her bassinet. My close friend co-slept with both her babies and did so safely following safer sleeping guidelines and taking care of her little ones, did I criticise her or did she do me, no she offered me advice on it and I used that to make an informed decision myself and I didn’t have the confidence to do it, I worried too much and felt calmer putting my baby in her Moses basket and sleeping with my hand on her chest to keep her feeling close to me. Two different scenarios that worked best for us and our babies, but in both situations the babies being safe, secure and well looked after.
I’ve felt the comments go both ways as well, I’ve been lucky, after a tough battle breastfeeding, I was. Able to come out the other side and exclusively breastfeed my 6month old and hope to continue until she’s roughly a year old. I’ve received negativity and bitching for breastfeeding (as though I was doing something wrong and should be formula feeding from a bottle) but also during the tough times had successfully breastfeeding mum’s almost show off and rub it in my face that it was going well for them. I almost couldn’t win. In the end my babies health and weight gain have been wonderful and has without a doubt been best for us. Should I have been condemned for struggling and have to supplement with expressed bottles for awhile? No. Should I have been condemned for battling through and being able to give my daughter what’s best for her? No.
It’s like the breastfeeding craze of taking photos of baby on the boob and having them photoshopped artistically or having professional pictures done of baby feeding. Also the breastfeeding jewels/awards that can be purchased, “I got my ruby boobies.” It’s not a contest or competition, it’s a method of feeding your child and lets face it we’d all turn to the bottle rather than let our baby starve so should those mums get awarded their golden bottles!?!?
A very good friend friend of mine battled through a heartbreaking time with her little one when he needed life saving surgery. He was was in intensive care and has luckily become her little superhero, battling through and coming out the other side. I take my hat off too her and her journey she’s remained strong, up best and positive but also real, she is honest with me and tells it like it is. What really shocked me once though was how she shared with me how she too had felt the wrath of this mummy competition. That despite the experience her family had, had to face, she still suffered the bitching and judgemental comments about her mothering choices and believe it or not the health issues she’d had to contend with, with her little boy. Things that were out of her control and something that no mother should ever have to face or contend with were the topic of snide comments. Why? Because of this ridiculous need to climb the mummy hierarchy? To try and get one up on the next mum? Is that seriously what us mums are about? My friend didn’t choose to have a poorly baby, she didn’t choose to go through hell and back and she certainly doesn’t want a medal for battling through it, she did what she had to do as a mum and a wife because her baby boy needed it, not to score points and certainly not to receive criticism.
The pinnacle moment for me was actually well before my husband and I were even engaged and having kids was just a pipe dream. A stay at home mum basically told me that women that worked full time or had careers shouldn’t have children because that makes them bad mothers! Now I could write book on this argument, however I won’t but what I will say is that comment was (and still is) like waving a red rag to a bull! As the main bread winner in our family, I have to work, in fact even if I was the higher earner we wouldn’t be able to afford for me not to work. Working enables us to provide a good standard of living for my daughter and a happy way of life, we can live in a nice area, eat good food and provide hobbies and activities for her and my step son. It’s also good for my mental health, I need the brain stimulation and challenge of my job to keep me happy in myself, which then in turn makes me a good mum. That doesn’t mean I’m criticising the stay at home mum either-good for you to be able to stay at home and be a full time housewife, I say I’d love to but I’m not sure I could do it so hats off to you!
I just think we shouldn’t be trying to put do each other as mum’s, it’s a tough enough job as it is without the hidden competitiveness going on. We don’t need to be trying to score mummy points because we weaned earlier or later or because we had a natural home birth with no pain relief. There’s no medals or trophies given out and like I said before as long as the health and well being of baby and mum are being put first and ok then the choices that a mum makes should be left to her and her family without judge and jury making her feel negative about it. And if criticism is to be made, it needs to be supportive and gentle, given with love and care, not bitchiness and hierarchical attitudes.
I could really drive my point home and start to talk about the playground mum cattiness I’ve witnessed, seeing them gossip in circles about different mums from their children’s’ classes and the Facebook photos of boards of presents on Christmas even or the birthday party bag rivalry. However, I’ve ranted enough, made my point and got it off my chest and feel a little better. Come on mums, let’s be a bit kinder to each other, pull together a bit more and do right by our little ones, after all no one likes the mean girl bully on the play ground, whether she’s a child or the mummy!