As a silent member of a few online mums’ groups, I noticed that mothers can get very competitive and judgemental. In fact, it all starts before the little ones make their appearance.
Being totally unfamiliar with nappies available in the German market, I thought I would ask the group if Brand X nappies were any good. While I expected yes-no answers and perhaps a few kind souls to recommend me other brands, a few mums asked if I “ever thought of using reusables because they are more environmentally friendly”. Ermmm, yes but the white goods provided in my apartment are probably Grades B and C so washing and drying would probably use more energy and harm the environment?
When shopping for a baby carrier, I was torn between the Ergobaby and Manduca (both given the thumbs up at my Prental class). Of course, I was treated with the “Did you know that those carriers are blah blah blah and you should use ORGANIC cotton da dee da dee da”.
Long story short: I can’t afford to buy ORGANIC cotton for my boy’s entire wardrobe.
Actually these mums aren’t bad at all because what they’re trying to do is help a new mum, like myself, know that there are alternatives.
Here’s the type of mum I find most annoying. The conversation usually starts off like this – “Can your son grab his toys yet?” Or “Is he smiling already?” As proud as a mum I am about my boy, I’m not particularly fond of getting into discussions about baby milestones. Why? Simply because every baby is unique, and develop at their own pace. There’s no need to check if all our babies are developing at a similar pace. If I had a concern, I would rather be checking with our paediatrician. I would hate to sit in a cafe talking about our kids’ developmental milestones.
Then there are two groups of mums – breastfeeding vs bottle feeding (be it formula or breast milk) mums. It is as though these two groups are mutually exclusive. Breastfeeding campaigns are so successful these days that they make mothers who DON’T feel so darn bloody guilty. I fell for it badly. So badly that my newborn baby boy would be crying in hunger and I would still refuse to feed him formula milk even though I didn’t have enough breastmilk for him. Daniel had to put his foot down at that point so Theodore got fed and I had some rest. I remember feeling so stressed out over breastfeeding because everyone around me did it and I felt like I had to do it too. Now, I’m glad Daniel and my midwife supported me through that rough patch and allowed me to take my time to get used to breastfeeding. They helped me realise that being a good mum isn’t just about breastfeeding. If I need to top up with formula, I can and I should for the benefit of my son.
I don’t necessarily think breast milk is the best (whatever experts or other mums claim). Neither do I think formula milk is better. Mums AND dads will have to do what is best for the situation their families are in. And this applies in all situations.
Did you know that there are sub-clubs in the motherhood club? One that I noticed is the “dummy/pacifier” club. I noticed that it’s always mums whose babies don’t use a dummy who ask other mums if theirs do. Seriously, I was asked by a mum looking at Theo sleeping with his dummy if he sucked a dummy. “What do you think he’s sucking on,” I thought. I replied, “Yes, he does” to which she immediately said “oh, my boy doesn’t take the dummy.” This has happened 3 times! I’m not pro or anti- dummy. I use it if my boy needs to soothe himself. At times he’s happier with sucking all 5 fingers, then so be it. Are non-dummy sucking babies smarter or what?
Mums can be so judgemental too (Ironic right? Since I’m basically judging judgemental and competitive mums! Hahaha). I must admit I do that too especially when I see a mum/dad smoking next to their child. To me that’s just so irresponsible. Everyday I’m judged by others who claim that I’m spoiling my boy when I carry him. He turned 11 weeks yesterday and can’t walk yet. What am I supposed to do?
Today a mum admittedly said she thought I was preventing Theodore from moving around too much by putting a bar on his legs. Obviously she thought I was insane so I had to explain that he had clubfoot.
To all mums out there, we’re all learning. You may be a new mum like myself or an experienced mum with 5 kids, we’re all learning about our little ones. Often, I remind myself not to judge other mothers. I’m not you so you’re very well entitled to have your reasons to doing things your way. Till date, I’ve not compared Theodore to other babies (eg. Checking milestones etc) because he is unique to me. Apart from referring to The Wonder Weeks book occasionally to see how I can help him through a rough time, I don’t really read up about milestones he should achieve at a particular age.
I watch and play with my boy everyday, and I want to enjoy this motherhood journey with him. I have good days and bad days with him. On both types of days, I try my best to become a better mum for him.