When I was a first time Mum I didn’t think I needed mum friends. I was overwhelmed with the thought of trying to make friends at the ripe age of 35. There was pressure from the world outside to socialise and to get out of the house. But I felt judged and didn’t want to expose myself to anymore criticism than what I already had been exposed to. Feeling judged and knowing that there were other people possibly seeing me as incompetent brought me down. And I allowed it to.
I still have moments vivid in my memory of walking down a supermarket aisle. One person walks past and smiles at my baby in the trolley. Then another person appears just as my baby starts to unsettle. And I get that stare. I tend to my baby and pick him up if I have to. And I proceed with my shopping but I’m feeling self-conscious and worried about what kind of mother people are seeing in me. I’m feeling judged.
Near the end of my shopping trip I see another woman with a child in her trolley. She looks once and looks away. Clearly, I think to myself, other mums don’t want to socialise with me. Why? Is it because I’m wearing trackies? Is it because I still haven’t lost the baby weight? Or is my baby too noisy for theirs? I’m feeling judged again and this time by a fellow mum.
I was always feeling judged when I was venturing out of my comfort zone. My comfort zone was my home where I had love in the little family I was blessed with.
For a very long time I was convinced that staying home was the better decision for me. But my baby was seeking more of the social scene. He was so excited when we were out and about and he could see another infant or toddler in the distance. So for his sake I tried out a few things. I didn’t give up even though there were many times I really wanted to.
But it just wasn’t easy to make friends. Some other Mums were happier on their own. And others already had their clicky groups. So I focused on my baby. I took him out to the pool, different playgrounds, the library sessions for interaction and even tried out a sports program for children aged 1 to 5. I watched him learn and develop his social skills. That’s it, I mainly watched him. Every little move he made I was there. I was there so that when he turned to look for me he would find me. I didn’t care for making friends for myself. My son was trying to get social and I needed to be there for him.
Fast forward to baby number two and me having more determination to be social. I found myself in a Mother’s Group. That wasn’t easy being a Mum of two in a cluster of First Time Mums. I held back a lot so that I didn’t appear as a ‘know it all’. So at times I felt like I was sending off vibes that I was more like a snob. At times I was feeling judged and thought a lot about how I was making myself vulnerable to society in general.
This phase was a huge struggle for me. I was feeling judged at times. Then at other times I had fun and felt like I belonged. But those times wouldn’t last long. Wherever I went I felt judged because I was always concerned about how I was presenting myself to others. I was feeling down a lot as a result of this. My mood swings were not only hard on my family but hard on me. I was pressuring myself to be social and when it wasn’t working out it made me upset a lot.
One day I returned home from somewhere and immediately started letting out my frustration to my hubby. I had been analysing my Mumlife experiences. So, I told him that before I started to try socialising more again I was actually very HAPPY!!! I had my baby and he made my day…Every. Single. Day. It wasn’t easy learning to be a mother. But…I was happy. I had more than I ever wished for. Because I had a family of my own and a future to look forward to with them.
So exposing myself to the outside world again had me feeling judged most of the time. At times I still feel this way and may never be able to completely shake it off.
Having said all of this and even though I feel this way most of the time it won’t stop me from getting out more. I’m not out to please anyone. I’m out to give myself and my family a life full of experiences – good or bad, we’re learning from them all and making memories.
I make friends and I don’t make friends. Most of the friends I have now are my social media buddies. While I’m chatting with someone online, feeling judged is not an emotion I go through. It’s not because we’re hiding behind a screen. But rather because we actually see more of each other’s lives by what we share on Instagram, Facebook, etc. Most people that I have met on these socials tend to be a lot more open. It took me a little while to become like this. But I’m actually at a point where I love sharing more through the cyber mediums that I am using on a daily basis.
One dear friend recently gave me a great piece of advice. I was talking to her about feeling judged. She said to me: “Once people have made up their mind about you it can’t be changed.”
I had a big pause moment. I completely understood what she was saying to me. It took that one little line to make me see everything with less care about how others are judging me. And after our impromptu DNM I receive more inspiring and calming words in a message:
That’s Mumlife for you!!
Don’t ever doubt yourself or your decisions. We experience situations to learn from them. Everyone comes into your life for a reason. That reason may not always be good or what you think. BUT, you always learn.
Have faith that you handle every experience at the time in the best way you felt was possible. I have lots of regrets too. But they have shaped the person that I have become.
Feeling judged you might think can break you, but in fact it can make you. At times you might think less of yourself but you shouldn’t. Mums and Dads alike, feeling judged makes them at times begin to think that they’re not good enough for their families.
Don’t let this feeling make you think you are not good enough for your family.
Just look into your child’s eyes (or children). You will see how every little bit of your life is where it’s meant to be.