This isn’t a typical FFF Friday, but more of a guest post. I think it fits, though, because it’s coming from the same place so many of your stories come from. It’s the result of a mother’s journey.
Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s that easy to just stop caring what other people think, especially if you’re a people pleaser at heart. Like me. Hell, I was in tears the other day over some drama on the FFF Private Facebook page, because I felt like I was being misunderstood and unfairly judged. But I wish I didn’t care, and that’s why I love Michelle’s piece. It makes me want to work on this part of myself, to be more successful at letting useless hate roll off my back.
So – I’m going to hand the floor over to Michelle, who is a lot stronger than I am. My hope for you is that you can take at least a little of her message and live it. You may not be able to stop yourself from caring what people think, but at least try and make those people ones who are worth caring about.
Happy Friday, fearless ones,
Judge Me – I Don’t Need Your Approval
by Michelle Shelemay
Judging. In the context of the “mummy wars”, feeling judged is the biggest complaint. Every decision relating to pregnancy, birth, feeding and parenting has been turned into an absolute moral choice – every decision is judged as objectively “good” or “bad”. For some reason, people find it difficult to accept that what’s good for you, isn’t necessarily good for me. I would even say that some decisions are simply personal preferences that in the long run, have little impact beyond being convenient and what suits you.
But really, why do we care so much about what other people think? As someone who chose to have a c-section and chose to formula feed from day 1, I’ve made decisions that are typically subject to a huge amount criticism. Do I care? Not really. Why should I care? Why should I care what random people on the internet think of me? I’m very happy with my decisions. I will almost certainly make the same decisions again, next time round. I do not need other people’s approval. For me, the advantages and benefits of both decisions greatly outweigh the disadvantages and the risks. I do not need to prove to anyone that my decisions were carefully considered and informed. It should be a given that that’s how a normal person makes important decisions (and let’s be honest, if I was a man, it probably would be).
It’s my body, my life and my responsibility. I most certainly do not need the approval of people who don’t know me and share no responsibility in the outcome of my decision. Although they are personal decisions, I am happy to discuss them with people who are genuinely interested or for whom the discussion will be helpful. However, the point is, my decisions don’t need anyone’s approval (ok, apart from the medical staff who performed the c-section) and NEITHER DO YOURS.
Let’s make it clear – there’s a difference between approval and support. I join facebook groups like Cesarean by Choice Awareness and the Fearless Formula Feeder for support and advice. Not because I need someone’s approval or endorsement of my decisions. Of course, I also don’t make decisions entirely on my own. I read, I seek medical advice, I talk to people who I TRUST, who don’t have an agenda and who I know have my best interests at heart. But that doesn’t include every “alpha mama” lurking online.
So ladies, here’s my call to you. Stop seeking approval. Stop feeling guilty. You don’t need to justify your decisions to strangers. Be confident in your ability to make good decisions. I genuinely believe that once we stop caring what people think, once we stop seeking approval for our decisions, the judging will stop. The judgers will get bored. They are seeking a reaction and as long as we give them one, they’ll continue. Once we stop caring and stop reacting, they’ll get bored and stop. Frankly, I find other people’s obsession with how I gave birth to or feed my child (and interest in the the respective body parts), a little sinister and weird. And that’s something that reflects badly on them, not me.
I’m specifically addressing this to women, as this seems to be an issue that predominantly affects women. The feminists among you will understand why – patriarchal society infantilizes women. Questioning women’s ability to make good decisions is part of that infantilization and nowhere do we see this more clearly than in how we relate to women around pregnancy, birth and motherhood. It’s no coincidence that we talk about the “mummy wars” rather than the “daddy wars” and it’s not just because more mothers than fathers are the primary care givers.
So here’s my challenge to you – stop caring what other people think. Make whatever decisions are right for you and be happy with them. You certainly don’t need my approval.
Have a story you want to share? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org