Is there anything worse than a “sanctimommy”?
If you’re not familiar with the term, I’m talking about the smug, judgemental mothers who can’t wait to impart their “wisdom”. You know the ones. We’ve all met them.
The perfectly coiffed mums who give you a once over when you arrive late and dishevelled. The mums who rather than give a sympathetic smile of solidarity when your toddler is having a meltdown in the middle of the supermarket, instead tut loudly and look at you disapprovingly. Those “ladies” who can’t wait to impart their wisdom (whether or not you have asked for it) so we are all left in no doubt of their superiority.
One thing that I noticed after becoming a mum was how competitive motherhood could be. From the pram you choose, to how you deliver your baby, to how you feed said baby, it seems everyone has an opinion and is all to willing to share it.
When someone has had a rough labour that went against her perfectly planned natural birthplan and ended in an emergency caesarean (🙋♀️), don’t ask her if they plan on “giving birth properly” with their second child.
If a woman is struggling to breastfeed, don’t talk about how easy you found it and how breast is always best. She knows breast is best. We all do. What she wants to hear is some reassurance.
Please don’t brag about how the baby weight “just fell off”. Don’t tell an exhausted mother how your baby slept through from being one week old.
Don’t tell a mum going back to work full time how you could never leave your baby all week. Perhaps she has no choice. Perhaps she feels guilty enough.
Also don’t sneer at the mum who decides she wants to stay at home with her children. This is also work, but unpaid with no lunch break.
The pressure to be the perfect mum is unbelievable. We should be patient at all times, be crafty and inventive, make delicious homemade meals (from organic ingredients of course).
I let go of the idea of being a perfect mother a long time ago. Probably around the same time I started crying in Mothercare and asking my startled husband what on earth were we thinking deciding to have a baby.
Motherhood is hard. Parenting is hard. So shouldn’t we be a bit kinder to each other?
What happened to solidarity? To sisterhood?
I’m not saying don’t ever give advice. If it’s helpful and without judgement it’s fine. Smugness however is not.
But from experience sometimes we don’t want a solution. We just want someone to listen. A shoulder to cry on. Someone who understands.
As an exhausted first time mum with a baby who didn’t sleep until he was 9 months old, I’d tried everything. I didn’t want more suggestions, I just wanted sympathy! I just wanted someone to listen and to tell me I was doing a good job when I was at the point I was feeling like a failure.
I’ve learnt to surround myself with like-minded friends and family who are supportive, who encourage, who help me see the funny side of what can be a thankless job.
I’m also trying to be less judgemental myself. I’m trying to stop rolling my eyes at the mothers who are bragging on social media about their potty trained 11 month old who is fluent in French. Who knows what insecurities they’re trying to hide.
So next time you see a harassed mum trying to do food shopping with a tantrumming toddler face planting in the freezer aisle, don’t tut. Don’t be a sanctimommy.
She’s doing her best. We all are.