I’ve been thinking about judgement in the realm of motherhood as of late. A variety of mothers have conversed with me about the judgement heaped upon them by others and sometimes even themselves. Countless people in recent years have fought to end the “mommy wars” and while it seems that there might be more of a handle on it, judgement still remains…
That being said, I’m not of the thought process that “you just do whatever and it’s all good” when it comes to parenting, because I don’t think that is good in any other area of your life either. It’s lazy and lukewarm, and promotes stagnant behavior. A level of judgement needs to be about us in all aspects of our life! But pertaining to parenting, we cannot afford to mistreat our child or neglect them. Honestly, those are pretty fundamental morals that most people are capable of judging without too much reflection or time lost. What takes time and is MORE necessary as a mother is discernment. We discern in all aspects of our life too. A priest once explained discernment to me as the weighing not of a good thing and a bad thing (that is judgement) but rather two good things weighed against each other. But judging–that is the contrast between a good thing and a bad thing…
Speaking as a mama, it is easy to get caught up in the judgement stampede of motherhood! That is because we try to make motherhood a perfect science and think we can be righteously angry if anyone disagrees with “the method!” Motherhood is not a formula, but we often try to make it one. What is good for one mama and child is not always good for another mama and child. We forget that fact because we invest our deep, vulnerable, personal parts into motherhood and we feel the necessity to protect and defend our choices. We often do that the wrong way, by attacking opposite choices and not recognizing the difference between judgement and discernment. We all do it, too. Co-sleeping vs. crib sleeping. Breastfeeding vs. Bottle feeding. Baby led weaning vs. Guided weaning. Does motherhood really call for constant judgement? Are any of those choices ultimately BAD, or morally wrong? Can we objectively say that no baby and mama will benefit from any of those choices or that all babies will respond the same way? Maybe motherhood calls for more discernment and less judgement.
For that to happen, we have to stop demonizing good things and accept that there is no formula to motherhood and there will never be one. After all, they don’t send you with a manual for the baby you take home! Only after that recognition will we see that we are gauging two good things instead of a good thing and a bad thing, thus discerning where we once judged.
We feel guilty because we aren’t doing things the way that Sally down the street does them, but instead of comparing Sally’s way as good and our way as bad, maybe we could begin to see them as two good options, and then discerning which option best suits our family!
We feel angry because Susie said she did not like the method we use for feeding, but maybe instead of judging our way as right and Susie’s way as wrong, we could see that Susie also has a right way of doing things and has discerned that our way does not work for her family (but is still a valid, good option).
I know this is just another mom reflecting on the mommy war culture, but maybe if the culture could begin to tell the difference between discerning and judging, there would be less judgement. Let’s discern, validate, and love, through one set of mother and child(ren) at a time.