Why do Mothers Judge Each Other?

Bear with me, this is going to be a bit of a ramble,  I’m not quite sure what I want to say – or how to say it and I certainly don’t have any stats or science to back me up here, but this has been bothering me an awful lot lately.

Why do mothers judge other mothers?

and no, I didn’t say ‘Why are mothers judged’ – that’s a whole other blog post!

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I bet some of you are thinking “but I don’t judge other mothers”, but honestly, I think *all* mothers judge other mothers in some ways, some far less consciously and far less vocally than others, but I truly don’t think there is a mother out there who has never judged another – why? because I think it’s a vital part of becoming a mother, of learning about ourselves, testing our mothering skills and hopefully, ultimately, gaining confidence in ourselves.

Judgement

noun

1 [mass noun] the ability to make considered decisions or come to sensible conclusions

I know I have judged other mothers, but when I really think about who I’ve judged, the who doesn’t really matter – when I think about the why, now that gives me answers.

Why did I judge that mother when she trained her baby to sleep through the night? (answer: because I didn’t feel secure in my decision not to do it even though I wasn’t happy with my baby’s sleep and the hour it took us to get him to sleep at night, because her baby *did* genuinely seem more ‘contented’ than mine).

Why did I judge that mother who breastfed a one year old, surely that was weird and must be more about her than her baby’s needs? (answer: because I gave up breastfeeding at 6months and everytime I saw her feed, as well as the small intake of breath at the oddness of it I felt a stab of regret that I wasn’t still doing it and that her baby was benefitting from her milk in ways mine never would from his ‘follow on’ milk).

Why did I judge that mother who breastfed until 6mths? (answer: because I breastfed a four year old and there was a small part of me that wasn’t strong enough to cope with the dirty looks, the clearing rooms and the ‘shouldn’t you have stopped that ages ago’ comments – *should* I have stopped it ages ago? maybe they were right, maybe it was all about ME and not my daughter).

Why did I judge that mother with her forward facing pram, chatting away to her friend and ignoring her baby? (answer: because I was uncomfortable in the sling, my son was crying and I felt like crying too, struggling with my bags of shopping and wishing I had a buggy to hang the bags from).

Why did I judge the mother whose baby slept in his own cot in his own room from 12 weeks? (answer: because  I was desperate for a night’s sleep without a foot in my back laying on the meagre 5 inches of mattess that was left for me, wondering when my daughter would ever decide to leave our bed).

Why did I judge the mother who dieted and regularly visited the gym when her baby was only 6 weeks old? (answer: because I felt self conscious about my body and my appearance).

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“Criticism of others is thus an oblique form of self-commendation. We think we make the picture hang straight on our wall by telling our neighbors that all his pictures are crooked.”  Fulton. J. Sheen.

Why did I judge? because I was insecure.

Why did I judge? because I was not truly confident in my decisions

Why did I judge? because in a way that judgement was self talk, self directed, a maternal hypothesis you might say. I was weighing up the issue, trying to decide which way to fall, which path to take.

“People hasten to judge in order not to be judged themselves.”  Albert Camus.

Judging others helped me to test my maternal hypotheses, judging others helped me to feel confident with my choices, judging others helped me to be secure – judging others was ALL about me. The judgement was never about the other mothers, it was all about me and the more upset I got at others? well actually the more whatever they were doing unsettled me and the true issues were with myself. The more I think about it though, the more I think that this judgement is a necessary part of the adjustment to motherhood. I’m not condoning judging out loud – far from it, ideally it will all be internal chatter only.

What do you think?

Sarah

About SarahOckwell-Smith

Sarah Ockwell-Smith, Parenting author and mother to four.
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