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View as: GRID LIST

Stop the mother judging!

1
There comes a time in your life when apparently it’s fair game for everyone to openly judge you. Unfortunately for most of us this time falls exactly when you need that judgement the least. When you’re feeling a bit unsure of your decisions, when your intuition is being fully challenged and quite frankly when you’re flaming knackered.

When I say others I mean, well, everyone. The media, the lady in the supermarket queue, family members, men, other mothers (this last one hurts the most I think).

Sometimes you can laugh it off (ha ha wasn’t it

SelfishMother.com
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funny when that lady asked me today whether I was actually watching my child in the park, oh how we laughed at her ability to make me feel totally crap about my parenting, er ha ha). At other times it is hugely damaging, because at best this judgement can make you question yourself and at worse it has the potential to stop us living our dreams. This might sound extreme but it’s a realisation I came to this week after reading an article in our regional paper. A mother (who had her own solicitors firm, not that this fact is remotely relevant here) had
SelfishMother.com
3
dared to return to work after 10 days maternity leave. There were so many facts in the article that left me frustrated and that was before I moved on to the comments which included criticism of her appearance (by a number of men) and included one which stated, ”mother in name only”. So many blatent judgements around what it means to be a ’good mother’ and so incredibly distressing I’m sure for the mother in question.

It could be argued that shouting about a 10 day maternity leave is damaging in another way. That women shouldn’t feel pressurised

SelfishMother.com
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to return to work quickly, that we do have better rights in the UK than say the US and that we want to hold on to these, that the ’superwoman’ image isn’t anyones’ friend. But she never claimed to be superwoman, she talked about making decisions that were right for her and her family. My point is that the media shouldn’t be shouting about it at all, not in the context of it being news anyway. There was passing mention of the father taking time off for childcare, which actually makes this even more of a non-story but regardless the paper ran it,
SelfishMother.com
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divided opinion and yet again left this kind of subconscious message around motherhood and work.

We seem to be stuck in this weird place, the premise that you can ’have it all’ is challenged by many and has become synonymous with that annoying image of a ’career’ woman sat typing at a keyboard looking all happy and balanced while she rocks a baby. There is no sick on her jacket, she isn’ t racked with guilt for failing to remember her other child’s parents evening, she hasn’t just shoved a Twix in her mouth due to not having time for lunch

SelfishMother.com
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because she went back on four days and is still doing a full time job but being paid less. We’ve worked so hard and then fallen out of love with the end result we were aiming for.

But I don’t think the end result was necessarily wrong, there are bigger questions at stake here. Like why no-one asks fathers if they can ’have it all’. Why women continue to face such massive discrimination around pregnancy and maternity (check out the brilliant Pregnant then Screwed if you are in any doubt). What is preventing women from having THEIR OWN version

SelfishMother.com
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of it all (like those small problems of decent, affordable childcare, flexible working, the gender pay gap etc)? Why not one single comment in the article I mentioned suggested there could be a ’bad father’ in the picture somewhere (notably I don’t think either parent was bad but you get my point).

The judgement mothers face isn’t exclusive to your work choices of course and we can somehow find ourselves taking sides: breastfeeding vs. formula, fit mum or lazy mum (not sure this is an actual term or just self coined) the list goes on. We suddenly

SelfishMother.com
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find ourselves choosing a camp when the last thing we actually need is any kind of division. We are all in one camp, we all surely  want the same thing. It’s a camp which is pro having actual choices, pro equality and pro stopping all the sh*tty judgement that stops our progress and maintains the status quo.

I am so passionate about this subject (I run workshops for women on returning to work after maternity leave and launched The Guilty Mothers Club last year as a place for mothers to invest in themselves, if you’re interested this the FB group)

SelfishMother.com
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but I know I need to try harder and be braver because I’m fed up with this whole judgement thing being the norm (perhaps we need some sort of # campaign, anyone think of a good one? Thinking I might get judged for something crap  – haha).

There are some brilliant bloggers out there working to share the realities of motherhood (Unmumsy Mum, Hoorah for Gin and of course the amazing Selfish Mother site which brings together a collective voice). It is so refreshing and inspiring to hear real female voices coming through so loud. If we can combine

SelfishMother.com
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these with more success stories, be genuinely supportive (rather than doubtful) when we hear of a woman who has negotiated the minefield that is family plus career (often the press don’t enjoy a successful woman, a successful mother – well that would just be too much) then maybe we could get even louder.

So if you hear of any Mother judging going on, let’s make sure we shout about it in all the right ways.

SelfishMother.com
Helen Bryce

By

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- 23 Jul 16

There comes a time in your life when apparently it’s fair game for everyone to openly judge you. Unfortunately for most of us this time falls exactly when you need that judgement the least. When you’re feeling a bit unsure of your decisions, when your intuition is being fully challenged and quite frankly when you’re flaming knackered.

When I say others I mean, well, everyone. The media, the lady in the supermarket queue, family members, men, other mothers (this last one hurts the most I think).

Sometimes you can laugh it off (ha ha wasn’t it funny when that lady asked me today whether I was actually watching my child in the park, oh how we laughed at her ability to make me feel totally crap about my parenting, er ha ha). At other times it is hugely damaging, because at best this judgement can make you question yourself and at worse it has the potential to stop us living our dreams. This might sound extreme but it’s a realisation I came to this week after reading an article in our regional paper. A mother (who had her own solicitors firm, not that this fact is remotely relevant here) had dared to return to work after 10 days maternity leave. There were so many facts in the article that left me frustrated and that was before I moved on to the comments which included criticism of her appearance (by a number of men) and included one which stated, “mother in name only”. So many blatent judgements around what it means to be a ‘good mother’ and so incredibly distressing I’m sure for the mother in question.

It could be argued that shouting about a 10 day maternity leave is damaging in another way. That women shouldn’t feel pressurised to return to work quickly, that we do have better rights in the UK than say the US and that we want to hold on to these, that the ‘superwoman’ imaWe're done with Mother Judging. It's too hard already and it's shit.ge isn’t anyones’ friend. But she never claimed to be superwoman, she talked about making decisions that were right for her and her family. My point is that the media shouldn’t be shouting about it at all, not in the context of it being news anyway. There was passing mention of the father taking time off for childcare, which actually makes this even more of a non-story but regardless the paper ran it, divided opinion and yet again left this kind of subconscious message around motherhood and work.

We seem to be stuck in this weird place, the premise that you can ‘have it all’ is challenged by many and has become synonymous with that annoying image of a ‘career’ woman sat typing at a keyboard looking all happy and balanced while she rocks a baby. There is no sick on her jacket, she isn’ t racked with guilt for failing to remember her other child’s parents evening, she hasn’t just shoved a Twix in her mouth due to not having time for lunch because she went back on four days and is still doing a full time job but being paid less. We’ve worked so hard and then fallen out of love with the end result we were aiming for.

working mum

But I don’t think the end result was necessarily wrong, there are bigger questions at stake here. Like why no-one asks fathers if they can ‘have it all’. Why women continue to face such massive discrimination around pregnancy and maternity (check out the brilliant Pregnant then Screwed if you are in any doubt). What is preventing women from having THEIR OWN version of it all (like those small problems of decent, affordable childcare, flexible working, the gender pay gap etc)? Why not one single comment in the article I mentioned suggested there could be a ‘bad father’ in the picture somewhere (notably I don’t think either parent was bad but you get my point).

The judgement mothers face isn’t exclusive to your work choices of course and we can somehow find ourselves taking sides: breastfeeding vs. formula, fit mum or lazy mum (not sure this is an actual term or just self coined) the list goes on. We suddenly find ourselves choosing a camp when the last thing we actually need is any kind of division. We are all in one camp, we all surely  want the same thing. It’s a camp which is pro having actual choices, pro equality and pro stopping all the sh*tty judgement that stops our progress and maintains the status quo.

I am so passionate about this subject (I run workshops for women on returning to work after maternity leave and launched The Guilty Mothers Club last year as a place for mothers to invest in themselves, if you’re interested this the FB group) but I know I need to try harder and be braver because I’m fed up with this whole judgement thing being the norm (perhaps we need some sort of # campaign, anyone think of a good one? Thinking I might get judged for something crap  – haha).

There are some brilliant bloggers out there working to share the realities of motherhood (Unmumsy Mum, Hoorah for Gin and of course the amazing Selfish Mother site which brings together a collective voice). It is so refreshing and inspiring to hear real female voices coming through so loud. If we can combine these with more success stories, be genuinely supportive (rather than doubtful) when we hear of a woman who has negotiated the minefield that is family plus career (often the press don’t enjoy a successful woman, a successful mother – well that would just be too much) then maybe we could get even louder.

So if you hear of any Mother judging going on, let’s make sure we shout about it in all the right ways.

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Helen Bryce

I'm Helen, founder of The Guilty Mothers Club which is all about supporting and inspiring women to fulfil their potential and ditch the guilt through events, workshops and an amazingly supportive and growing community. That's when I'm not having adventures with my 3 little ones (all under 5) and incredibly patient husband.

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