I stopped caring what kind of mother other people think that I am.
It's taken me a couple of years to be able to say that. The only people's opinions that I care about on that matter are my husband's and the two little boys that call me mommy. Other than that, I really and truly do not care.
I used to care. I used to care a lot.
When I first had Max, I didn't have many mommy friends. I had him at age 24 which is pretty young and so the majority of my friends were just beginning their careers and weren't yet mothers. I became involved with mommy groups. Online and in playdate form in person. While it was wonderful to be able to ask questions and have people to relate to, it was also then that I was introduced to the horrible and disgusting world of mommy wars. If you don't have kids, you're probably unaware that it even exists and I wish that it didn't. Some mothers (not all, because there are truly some amazing mommy friends out there) but some mothers, think that they are superior to all others and they have no problem judging anyone and everyone around them. I've been guilty of it to an extent and I'm ashamed of that. It's one thing to speak up if and when a child is in danger, it's a totally different story to constantly belittle another parent over their choices.
"Max didn't sleep at all last night! I'm going to need a venti latte today!" That was a status that I wrote on Facebook once. To which I had someone comment "well you know that if you're breastfeeding, that venti latte isn't going to help him sleep". Umm.... what??!? She was promptly deleted. First of all, stop being a know it all. Second of all, I love coffee and I don't need that kind of negativity in my life. Laters, baby.
"Mike and I actually went on a date last weekend!" To which I had someone reply, "My husband and I haven't been on a date since ___ was born. I've never left ___ with a sitter." Oh. Okay then. Maybe she didn't mean it and maybe it was just me being sensitive but I felt as if I was being judged for a much needed 2 hour date with my husband. Is she a better mother than I am because she's never ever been away from her child?? That is actually what I thought. And by the way, the answer is no.
"You're leaving overnight? How are you able to get away when you're breastfeeding?" Again, maybe it's me being hypersensitive to the subject, but I always feel like this is a passive aggressive question. Here's the answer: a breast pump and a great mother/mother-in-law who jump at the chance to watch my boys. Grandmas are THE BEST!!!!!
Due to comments like these and probably my own insecurities, I thought that I needed to spend 24/7 with Max to prove that I am a good mother. On the rare occasion that I left the house when he was little, I felt immediate guilt. I almost could not enjoy my "break" for fear of judgment from others. Social media doesn't help. We are all so connected to each other that we pretty much know the other person's every move. Every date night, vacation, weekend getaway is documented, shared, and left open for other people to judge. She's out to dinner with her friends again. Where are her kids?! Wow, must be nice to get away for a whole weekend with no responsibilities. Is that a glass of wine I see??? This is what happens.
Now, I know I'm going to have to clarify this: if you have children and you are going out every night, you need to reevaluate your priorities. This isn't me judging you, trust me, I get it. You need a break. BUT do so in moderation. Extremism in any form is never good. A break is good, and often necessary! For me, it's necessary. I'm home with my boys every single day. I love them more than life itself, but some days things get a little hairy and MOMMA NEEDS TO GET OUT. That is me being 100% honest. If you honestly do not feel the same way, that's totally fine. To each their own. But know that you are allowed to feel that way and you shouldn't feel bad about it!!! You aren't a bad mother for sometimes saying "the kids are driving me bonkers today and I need to lock myself in a dark quiet room with no one touching me for 10 minutes in order to keep my sanity". That's hypothetical of course ;-)
We are always going to be judged by others. It's just human nature. What I want my fellow mommas to know is this: you don't have to constantly explain/justify yourself/your parenting choices. You don't have to post a picture of your 2 year old eating pizza for breakfast and then write a paragraph explaining why you allowed him to do so. Rock on with your bad self. I wish I was eating pizza for breakfast!
Since I let it go (let it goooo), I am much more confident in my parenting choices. I've been raising babies for 4 years (yes, Max is turning 4 in a few weeks and I'm just as shocked as you are) and they have been my whole life. However, I have recently realized that for my own self fulfillment/happiness, I'm going back to school. I'm going to finish my bachelor's degree. Finally! Up until this point, I didn't think it was possible to do so because remember, I was in the mindset that my kids should be my whole world. It's taken a few years but I've realized that I can have it all. I can be a great mother and still do things for myself. I can do it and so can you. Xo.