Friday, November 10, 2006

Live and let live

Of late I have begun to notice the kinds of remarks people – in my position as a mom I notice this more – moms make to each other. Quite often it ends up being advice that is either patronizing or irritating or remarks that are purely thoughtless and insensitive. I wonder if people think before or after they make such remarks to other mothers.

- Woman with two children telling another who has been trying for a child and going through IVF wanting her own child “You know, you can adopt, why don’t you think about that?”.

- Woman with two chubby kids telling another who has a child who is naturally not the weight gaining type “ My god, the child has not grown at all since the last time I saw him five months back!”

- Stay at home mom telling a working mother without having any clue as to why she may have chosen to keep her job “ You know I would never allow anyone else to take care of my baby”

- A friend telling another breast feeding mother “You mean you are still breast feeding your daughter?! She is probably not even getting enough milk from you!”

- A working mother to another one who stopped pumping milk after 3 or 4 months: “Oh, I pumped and pumped for a long time. I just would not allow even a drop of formula for my baby!”

- A working mom with an older child to one about to deliver and has taken a break from work to have children (because her job involves field work) and is very nervous about labor pains: “Well, you know I was very active and working at my job till the day of delivery – so I did not have any problems with labor (this is a software analyst who always sat at her desk and often worked from home).

- One mom to another who’s child doesn’t like to eat Indian food often “ Oh, my children – at school they can have pasta or pizza, but at home, I insist, only rice and dal”

- Mother of a rambunctious toddler telling the mother of a rather mild mannered one “My child is very active and energetic. You saw how in one second he broke that candy bowl”

- One mom who took epidural during delivery telling another who didn’t “Oh, that’s a no-brainer – you should have taken it!”

- One mother telling another mother of a rather picky eater “I trained my kids from when they were young to eat all kinds of food”

Examples of this nature abound. I too was guilty of making a judgemental remark just a couple of days ago while talking to my good friend. She told me about her colleague who sent her second child to her parents place in India for a little while. I told my friend immediately “God, why do people have kids and then send them away with grandparents, why bother?!”. My friend then told me that her friend’s husband was extremely controlling with money and she was afraid to lose her job trying to manage two kids and become completely dependent on him. Now it is easy to say walk out in that case, but such decisions are personal and not simple. I realized that I was quick to judge and felt bad about it. I wish we could all give each other space and know that especially when it comes to children, every mom tries her best. And even if not, it is really not our business unless it is a case of abuse. Many of these remarks either annoyed the person at the receiving end or really hurt the person and made them feel guilty needlessly. There is no need to feel one up by taking jabs at the other person. To each her own…

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hallelujah! How true, how true!

noon said...

Thanks for visiting Anon!

Tharini said...

You said it Noon! We have all been guilty of this crime. If not in saying it, then definitely thinking it, which is just as much a crime as the other.

A very worthy and thoughtful post.

Anonymous said...

how true this is noon! we are all guilty. i know i am! like tharini said, even if not in saying it to the person concerned, definitely in saying it to my husband or at least thinking it...

you are right, to each his own. most of them may have compelling reasons - and even if they do not, to each his own.

i will be more careful and tolerent in future...

-d

noon said...

Tharini, Thanks. I even don't care if someone thinks such thoughts in their mind - one has opinions and often can't escape it - but at the very least you don't have to offend the other person without knowing much about their circumstances and just randomly say things or brag about how perfect you are as a mother (I mean you in third person ofcourse). What I find amazing is that most often there is not even a look of "feeling bad" about having said something hurtful even inadvertantly. It is as if it was meant to be a jab.

noon said...

d - thanks for visiting. yeah we all have our opinions and I think it is hard to be non-judgemental at all times - but at the least we can all try to understand the other person's point of view and in general make the world a more peaceful place to live in instead of spreading anxiety and peer pressure amongst each other. I am no saint myself to sermonise but am just sort of thinking aloud.

Anonymous said...

T, so true ! I am guilty of doing it too ! Shd try to watch my words. Anyway, like yr blogs, girl !

noon said...

Oh IG - love having you back! Thanks for visiting/commenting! You are allowed to be mean to me as you always have been and say anything you want! :)

@ said...

well said -
Your post, with the apt title and all, is what I want to write in the comment section of another blog I read today - which, I think, passes random judgements all around...but I am choosing to stay out of it :)
You have also inspired me to blog about my own experiences on this front - rather that, than hog your comments space :)

noon said...

Yes please do... I think all of us go through hurt feelings or needless aggravation because of such insensitive comments (and we too may be guilty of it every now and then and can afford to be more careful) that it will be good if you and others also write about your experiences to vent out and to also sensitize one another - all of us really can be more supportive of each other as moms rather than add to the pressure.

Rohini said...

As a working mom, I get a lot of judgement on my choice to work. A typical converstaion goes like this...

She: So you work?
Me: Yes.
She: So does your mother-in-law/ mother stay with you?
Me: No
She: Then who looks after the kid
Me: (rather defensively) A very able maid
She: Oh! I gave up my job when I had my baby. I cannot imagine the baby being brought up by a stranger...
Me: (stage whisper) May I introduce you to a friend of mine - Tact

noon said...

I can imagine what you go through...it's not easy on either side really. There are working moms who look down on stay at home moms - my cousin recently told me how her relative told her "I don't know how you can be cooped up in the house all day with the baby" - and stay at home moms ridicule working moms the way you have described. Some professions don't allow for working from home or part time work and the choices are not easy at all in either case. Each person makes choices based on their personality, their circumstances and really when it comes to children most moms try their best to do what is right. But I guess these sort of jabs make them feel better about their own choices.

Aqua said...

I've had such remarks thrown at me too...esp the "i will not feed formula to my kid" or "you work???" types

Dog's Best Friend said...

Yeah I've retracted (mentally) every comment I have ever made (not too many i Promise) about misbehaving kids/working moms etc...my only defense is that I didn't have my baby then...now my mouth stays zipped...

noon said...

Aqua - oh yeah, the breastfeeding comments are popular ones - the jabs from either side happens all the time - recently New York Times published this artice "Breastfeed or else" editorial and you can imagine the reactions from both sides. Funny thing is even if you do breastfeed, you get flak from people - my aunt this time gave me such a hard time for not supplementing with formula or milk. I totally didn't expect that sort of pressure. My neighbor tells me her family gives her a really hard time for continuing to breastfeed her daughter...it's like you can't do the right thing either way.

noon said...

DBF - first of all a new post due from you soon!
Actually I can't help think there is something to misbehaving kids - to some level I do think that still depends on the parenting - when it is in the privacy of their own home it's their biz but when it is outside some parental control is needed. But still I think I would be a lot more careful in making remarks on that - bcz some children are just more difficult no matter how much the parents try to control them. I feel that way when I see some American kids who know to eat on their own!!! at age 12m whereas that is a distant dream with my 15m old. I feel like it is my fault that I did not even attempt to train him to eat his lunch on his own - my jaw just dropped when I came to know of kids who do that at his age and younger.
yeah true - when I didn't have kids - the way I looked at everything about child rearing was different. When my friend told me to take a breast feeding class when I was pregnant I thought - what's the big deal about that...and there I was meeting with a lactation consultant soon after delivery not knowing how to get my baby to feed properly! She felt like a magician to me at that point!

artnavy said...

very rightly said

we must all stop passing judegemnt however inadvertently

noon said...

Thanks for visiting Artnavy...

mommyof2 said...

ashamed to say that I am guity of doing lots of things you mentioned.. but not trying to be bitcy or anything, it was jhust that I was concerened & wanted to give them hope..

About leaving kids to India, I was right to make the comment you made cuz that lady just sit there in her shop while her huuby runs the store,take care of the older girl & make food for her wife too and when her second daughter was born(she wanted a boy), she left them with her parents in India.. why?? Im 100% sure if it was a boy she would've never thought of sending him to India.. I was so mad and I never talk to that couple afterwards... (I take things very personally)

noon said...

Hi mof2, hard to know why poeple make the decisions they make. And it is hard not to be judgemental at all. I just meant we can all try to be nicer to each other and give the other person credit for trying...ofcourse there are cases where you feel a lot for the children (as you do in this case) and it is your choice to stay away from them - but it is not your right to tell them what to do like some people do...

Lakshmi said...

Noon, that was a fantastic piece of writing, and I can totally relate to it. I have known moms with very vociferous and sociable kids call my quiet, self-content kid "unsociable" and it has driven me up the wall.
Thanks for the post.

noon said...

Hi Lakshmi,
Just saw your comment (Jan 9 07!). Thanks for visiting. Yes I think as a mom we have to start developing a thicker hide since it hurts the most when people talk about your children in anyway that is even the least bit derogatory.

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