You Don't Have to Explain Yourself to Anyone
Mums are defensive creatures. We feel the need to explain why we do things. Why we feel things. Why we behave in certain ways. To explain that this isn't usually what we'd do but we were short of time/it's a treat/we are having a difficult day ...
This is unnecessary.
I know why we do it. Because we are always questioning ourselves. Doubting our decisions. Our best is never quite enough and we have Mum Guilt. But this habit of defensive over-justification really doesn't do us any favours.
I hear mums (myself included) adding rationale to their every parenting move. As if we are anticipating the 'but why?' question so we throw the answer in beforehand.
'I only got him a dummy because he is whingy, I don't really agree with them...' Relax! A dummy is clearly working for you. High five.
'She wouldn't usually have a chocolate biscuit as her mid-morning snack, it's just I haven't got to Tesco to stock up on fruit this week....' Chill out. She's having a biscuit. I can see she's happy, healthy and I'm sure as you say she does like her veggies. She also likes chocolate biscuits and you promised her one if she used the toilet at playgroup. Crack on. I'm not judging.
If I ask you in general conversation 'Are you breastfeeding?' and you are not breastfeeding, you don't then have to elaborate on all the problems your baby had latching on, or her low birth weight, or the mastitis that stopped you in your tracks. You do not have to explain yourself. Of course, if you want to chat about these things I'm all ears. But you actually need say no more. It was just a question.
To a large extent, I think we over-justify our parenting choices and behaviours because we hate feeling judged. If I just explain why I've done it this way she won't think badly of me...Only, she still might. I'm sorry to say I have met a small handful of mums who definitely are judging you. And me. And everybody else. These are the mums who think they are doing everything right. In fact, they know they are. They've bought all the parenting manuals. They've read every Which? report dating back to the first travel system ever invented. It's their way or the highway. 'You really shouldn't....' 'I'd be careful doing that with him because I've read....' Well thank you Mrs Judgey Knickers, but if I need your advice I'll ask for it. Until such a time you can fuck off.
Don't live in fear of those mums. Because you will end up paranoid that everybody is silently forming an opinion about you and your parenting. Let's face it we are all a bit judgey. It's natural. Sometimes I take one look at a mum and immediately think I know what type of parent she is (I'm not proud of this, and I have been wrong many times). But sometimes, that judginess you anticipate just might be mistaken.
I, for instance, once felt massively judged when declaring 'I can't hack being at home all week so I'm heading back to work soon, hooray!' The mum I'd met at playgroup just that morning then quietly explained she had decided not to go back to work at all. Because she liked being at home so much she would do all she could to avoid returning to work. And there I was, sat cross-legged in the baby sensory area, outlining my being-at-Home escape strategy. How shit a parent did that make me sound? I was tempted to backtrack and clarify that of course I loved every minute with the baby, and if we could afford it I would have longer off work ... but this would have been bullshit. So I made my excuses and left.
As it turned out, I later discovered that the very same happy-at-home mum had thought I was silently judging her. How bad must I sound for not wanting any sort of career, she thought. I bet she thinks I'm lame for wanting to stay at home. We were both slightly in awe of each other. And both feeling guilty. What a pair of numpties.I actually think not justifying your every move comes across quite well. An 'I do this because it suits me and my family' attitude commands respect. It indicates a confidence in one's own ability to decide what is right. Not right in the preachy preachy holier than thou total authority in the history of everything that was ever fucking right right.
But right for you. For your kids. For your family.
'No I don't breastfeed,'
'I'm not going back to work at all actually,'
‘Nope, not started potty training yet.’
'Yep, we use a dummy - it's been great for us!'
Enough said. You really don't have to justify yourself to anyone*. One size parenting does not fit all. We're all different. Heaven knows our kids are all different. Explain yourself only if you want to. Mrs Judgey Knickers and her posse of parenting expert Supermum friends feed on your defensive outpourings. Resist the urge, hold your head high and let them starve.
*Unless you are one of those parents from Junk Food Kids who gives your two-year-old coke in a sippy cup. That can never be right and you should be sterilised. You absolute moron.