Moms Criticizing Other Moms

Friday, October 7, 2011

"I don't mean to interfere or anything" Really? You could've fooled me. "You know, there's a strong undertow right next to this island." A woman drove past, reversed, got out of her car, and crossed a foot bridge just to tell me this.

"Um, no. I didn't know that." I reply, trying not to roll my eyes like an irresponsible teenager.

"I wouldn't let those kids climb those rocks like that. If they fall in, you're never going to see them again."

"Well, of course, I'm not letting them go past a certain point" (And I'm sitting right here within arm's reach of them. And there's at least 20 feet of slowly-sloping rocks they'd have to climb down and forcefully throw themselves in to actually make it in the water. And you can see the water is completely still at the bottom of the ledge. And I want these kids to experience nature, to climb, to explore, to practice their agility, to grow stronger, etc. I refuse to shelter them from every single imagined danger there is. Believe me, my stomach already does cartwheels every time my son climbs a ladder at a simple playground.)

"Yeah, but they could fall in and that current would pull them right under."

"I assure you, I'm not going to let anything happen to these boys." I say with as much conviction as I've ever had in my life.

"Well, I hope so." She says, as though there's even a chance that this might not be so.

What is the deal with moms criticizing other moms as though we're all hapless waifs trying everything we can do to purposefully hurt our children? Please, stop! My love for my child runs deeper than anything I've ever felt in my entire life. I would, without a second thought, put my body in front of a bullet for him. If fact, I would McGuyver whatever I could within reach and contort my body into impossible positions to stop anything from hurting my child. This I assure you with my entire heart, body and soul.

In spite of this, I could list numerous incidents where other moms (strangers) have come up to me to tell me that I was doing something wrong. I don't know whether it's because I'm a younger mom (no one has EVER dared to say anything to my husband or mom) or because mothers just feel a certain entitlement-of-the-wise to interfere, but several people have offered their "input" about my parenting skills. And it makes my blood boil every time. I probably shouldn't take it so personally, but the entire issue of moms criticizing other moms seems to be trending. It's not just me. It's other moms I know and even moms I don't know.

I mean, does our utmost devotion to our beautiful creations mean nothing? Does our obsessive tending, nurturing, directing, teaching, minding, worrying, and guiding count for nothing? Don't our overly-obsessive thoughts about what's best for our children count for anyting? If they sneeze once, we stay awake at night watching them, making sure they're breathing. We shape our entire existences around our children. Our life goals are centered around their care and wellbeing.

Please, unless you have good reason to believe that someone is physically or emotionally abusing a child (which makes me sick to my stomach), or unless she explicitely requests your input, refrain from criticizing another woman about how she's raising her child. Be assured that she is doing the best that she can and her mother-in-law is probably already on her case about it anyway. Maybe instead you could give her a pat on the back and a compliment. Those displays of motherly affection are, ironically, all-too-rare.

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Leah Schouten said...

I agree! The last thing a mother needs is criticism. Great post, Jessica.

Jessica Collins said...

Thanks Leah!