I’m not a bad mum, far from it, I put toddler P first, I put her needs and happiness before my own, I ensure all her basic needs are met, that she’s well fed with a balanced nutritious diet, that she gets enough sleep (well I attempt this, she often has other ideas…), that she’s well dressed, healthy, clean (ish, messy play, painting and jumping in muddy puddles also hinder this one). I make she’s loved, more than loved and I make sure she learns right from wrong.
I’m also far from perfect, I get it wrong sometimes but I’m most certainly learning as I go and improving and most of all trying my best.
But (and there’s always a but) there’s always someone ready to criticise. To give a disapproving look or unwarranted “advice” or to bitch behind my back, or to my face. I’ve had several conversations with several friends this past week or so about how awful and hard it can be when you’re caught by the mum police.
It can make you question your judgement when deep down you know you’re doing what is right and best for you and your child. It can make you feel the need to justify yourself when actually you don’t. I’ve been criticised for not putting a coat on my daughter when she is in fact a warm child, always has been and usually when I’ve not put one on her it’s because she’s been flushed and sweating and far from cold, plus I always dress her in layers with spare clothes with me to add or take away. It was commented on about how long my daughter was rear facing in her car seat for, when actually it’s recommended you do so for as long as possible (at least age 4 if you have a seat that allows it). The list goes on, but why should I have to question or justify to a stranger, truth is I shouldn’t.
More importantly though is the added pressure it puts on mums. I’m lucky, I’m quite flippant when questioned by the mum police, however sometimes it’s the silent judgements that you can’t directly address that are more difficult to brush off. They can put added pressure on mums and their children. It can make going out more difficult. One friend recently nearly didn’t attend a play date to a local place for fear of the behaviour of her toddler. I laughed and joked in return about toddler P’s wilfulness, diva attitude, her “I can do it I-self” confidence and how I regularly want the world to swallow me up whole as I try and get her to co-operate in public. The fact is though, she’s just being two and a toddler and none of her behaviour is malicious naughtiness, in her mind she expressing her needs and trying to get what she wants. Albeit, in the wrong ways and sometimes not the right things to want, it’s all part of the learning and those judging need to allow for me to deal with this, which sometimes does mean not giving into a tantrum in order for her to learn that temper will not get her what she wants. It may mean carrying her out of somewhere under my arm surf board style without her shoes on in order for her to learn that she needs to do as she has been asked and it may mean that she’s not perfect all the time but what she is, is a learning toddler and I’m her good mum. Putting pressure on mums to showcase a middle child is not helpful and the fact that it may make some not want to take their children out will only lead to those kids not learning the social skills we all want them to.
None of us are perfect, mums, babies, toddlers, teenagers and whoever! But we are all human, we’re all learning all the time and trying to manage emotions. So can the mum police please go on strike, leave me, toddler P and our wonderful friends and their babies alone, while we do what we know is best.