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Will I beJudged?

By West Norwood Therapies Team, Jan 9 2019 09:47AM

Yoga teacher Emma Klein looks at judgment amongst women, explores how self-defeating and sad this is and suggests an alternative approach.

I have come to realise over the last few years of being a mum that as women we expect an insane amount of ourselves and each other. Don’t get me wrong, I think men expect a lot of themselves too, but they usually have different attitudes towards their expectations and aren’t nearly as judge-y of other men as we, as women, are of other women.

Just think about it for a moment, we are often expected to have a career. Whether this is part or full time, self employed or at a company, in the modern world there is an expectation to have some kind of job. This, in and of itself, has become pretty normal. We expect or are expected to succeed at this job whatever it is while also trying to do a million other things simultaneously, like following the latest trends in fashion, food and social networking and maintaining a house and relationships. And for the most part if asked, we would tell you that it’s crazy to try and do multiple different things at the same time with the same level of dedication and success.

On top of all that a lot of us then go on to become mothers. Again, something relatively normal. (Although this mindset is starting to change). However, once we become mothers, we go from the already top-heavy expectations of being a woman, to expecting ourselves to be pretty much super human. To be full time mums, house keepers, chefs AND to have successful full-time careers. On top of this there is this fallacy of the perfect mum; expectations that are set by us, those around us and most recently exacerbated by social media.

Now don’t get me wrong, there is nothing terrible about wanting to achieve this and major high fives to those of you who do, especially when you do it without the help of a partner. The thing that I want you to question is why you start judging yourselves and others when you or someone else can’t accomplish this super human feat.

Being a mum is an extremely demanding, often underappreciated job, that is 24/7 with no leave, pay or rest. Even when you are away or resting your mind continues to be a mum and work on tasks related to this role. From worrying about your child/children, to planning outings or running through lists of things you feel you absolutely need to accomplish. But as a society, we fail to recognize that we set expectations that are often unachievable. We don’t give ourselves or each other enough credit for being able to manage even one part of this multi-layered role.

For those of us who choose a career or to follow a path that, for whatever reason, does not include children we are judged and for those of us who choose to have children we are judged if we continue our careers or if we change careers or even stop working all together. We are judged for being happy in our choices and if we regret them. We are told to suck it up and get on with it as it was our choice. And on top of that we are then judged for how we accomplish this. With the judge and jury almost exclusively being women our own age who are attempting to accomplish the same things we are.

My biggest frustration right now is with the “Breast is Best” and “All Natural” campaigns that mothers and mums-to-be have jumped onto. These are both great campaigns but pushing these ideals onto new mums is both extremely frustrating and unfair. And then judging other women for not doing what you feel is the best thing or for not doing it the way you are just seems like such unnecessary fuel to an already out of control fire! There are positive and negative aspects for all these things and what is right for you isn’t necessarily right for someone else. Share your opinion, sure, but don’t be judge-y and pushy about it.

A lot of women would love to breastfeed but are unable to for many reasons. Many more just don’t want to, and there is nothing wrong with that. Many women breastfeed simply because they feel that they should, even if they hate it. And then others breastfeed and love the experience. None of these women are wrong, or right. And judging them for their choices when being a new mum is already an extremely tough thing to do is just cruel.

A few of the things that we as women need to stop doing to each other:

• Judging a new mum, for not using cloth nappies, when she is so tired, she can’t remember whether she’s eaten that day.

• Judging, because she left the house in a tracksuit when all she wanted was some adult conversation, a friend to talk to who would understand.

• Judging her for not doing it the “right” way, when her baby is happy and healthy.

• Judging her when she can’t cope or even when she seems to have everything all sorted out.

• Judging her for not being you.

I often get people who come to a Pregnancy Yoga class or talk to me about Pregnancy and the expectations around bringing a new human into the world, looking for “the right way” to do things. My advice is to always do what works best for both you and the baby. That every human is different and therefore there is no “One-Size Fits All” solution.

Yoga can be a great tool in accepting yourself, where and as you are in that moment. Both physically and mentally. To give you the space and strength to tackle the judgement of others as well as your own judgement of yourself.

I think the best advice I got when I was pregnant was from an experienced midwife who said: “Everything, and nothing is normal during pregnancy”.

This really resonates with me and I feel can be applied to all stages of life, not just pregnancy. Just as every human is different, every pregnancy is different and so it follows that every birth and every new mum is different. Every single person is different, the way they view the world, how they look and their life experiences. We should learn to appreciate and support these differences. To build each other up rather than isolating each other. Giving each other advice and allowing and even helping the other person to recognise and choose the path that works for them.

And at the end of the day we need to stop judging ourselves. Stop trying to achieve Instagram-like ideals of what you should be as a woman and as a mum and give yourself credit for being the best version of yourself that you can be – whatever that looks like!

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