How Not To Be A Sanctimommy

Two female friends

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.

Just stop.

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.

One Messy Mama

23 comments

  1. This speaks to me! I never expected some moms to be so cliquey and judgmental. We all get to argue with tiny terrors a couple times a day; some solidarity goes a long away.

  2. This is so well written and said perfectly! I don’t understand all the judging…not one child is alike so everyone has a different situation that they are in. Let’s celebrate life, happiness, and unity versus bringing one another down. Great post Mama!

  3. I can totally relate to this. Any time I tell another mum what a terrible sleeper my 11 month is they tell me how theirs sleep through the night. How is that helping me??

  4. This post was quite a sad one to read. I’m sorry to hear that you’ve had to deal with shady and judgemental comments from other mothers. I may not have kids but even I know that not everything is in your control. A child is a person and they don’t always make things run as smoothly as one would hope. I do see a lot of women out there with this idea that if people don’t do things their way then they are automatically bad parents who could care less about their children. At the end of the day no one knows your child or what they need more than you and your other half. You would think that there would be more of a sisterhood out there when it comes to this sort of thing. More often than not, I have seen those very judgemental mothers lose control of their kids and it’s the woman they were passing judgement on who often steps in and manages to settle the little one.
    You know that you’re doing the right thing by you and your family and at the end of the day that’s all that matters.

  5. Being a pregnant, unmarried dance mom, I encounter the judgemental moms every week. They talk about their perfect pregnancies and babies and lives which mine is far from but at least I know that I am loving, caring and show my kids to love everyone not judge everyone.

  6. Yes! Preach you beautiful momma! I love this post and I agree! I have been where you are and I still am honestly. I completely understand just wanting someone to listen without offering solutions. I think some individuals don’t understand that concept, but if feels good to talk to someone to understand to let that out, because being a mom is hard. It is even harder when you do have so many judge mental moms out there who make motherhood look like a piece of cake and make you feel like you haven’t don’t enough, but I have come to try to pay it no mind because I can only do the best I can do and I think that all moms deserve credit for the things they do no matter how they have decided to do it. My birth turned out just like yours. I was supposed to have him the regular way and wound up needing a c-section and was told I would probably have to have any future babies that way too. My son also wouldn’t take to breast feeding and of course everyone I knew informed me breast feeding was better, as if I didn’t know that or try hard enough. I think your doing a great job and your an awesome mom! You keep your head up and keep doing what your doing. ❤️😊👍

  7. I imagine there’s plenty of mums that need to read this! It amazes me how many grown adults can act so awful. I actually think that it’s a sign of their own insecurities.

  8. Yes yes yes and yes! I actually breastfed my second child (never thought it would happen given the difficulty just trying to with my first, but hey ho different kids), so I joined a Facebook group thinking i’d be able to chat to people and get some advice. They were all so far up their backsides I eventually got kicked out lol. Wooops. I’m just not judgemental on anything with parenting and I hate it when I witness it.

  9. I feel this post speaks to being a woman of child-bearing age. There is so much judgement from so many women over every inch of our lives and how we chose to live them. People should really learn to just keep their old fashioned opinions to themselves.

    C x

  10. I love to hear other mums experiences and advice is always good but those people in general who think they know best about everything and can’t wait to impart all their wisdom… they are just annoying! #globalblogging

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