Our final Mama Activism post comes from Tara Green of The Parenting Geek. It also leads us very nicely into next month's theme: Mum Shame. Tara makes a wonderful case for activism through kindness. Is kindness in your manifesto?
Am I an activist? I did march in London once, I do vote and I’m involved with a lot of local projects and organisations in my hometown of Croydon.
But I read the fabulous posts on here by people with a strong sense of mission and purpose who are standing up to be counted in some weighty and world-shaking issues and I fear that I’m more sitting down to be supportive than standing up to be counted. Nonetheless, I do have a cause of my own that is close to my heart.
And it’s this:
Mothers, I ask you to be kind.
I ask you to be kind to your fellow mothers bringing up their children in the ways that suit their beliefs, philosophy and family values. I ask you to notice and then accept whether that mother over there has chosen to breastfeed or bottle feed her baby. I urge you to leave that woman alone for her choice to co-sleep with her baby whilst also accepting the choice of the mum who has decided that implementing a strict routine is the tool that will allow her to be the best mum she can be.
Also, there’s a woman over there who is dead-set against vaccinating her baby whilst the mother beside her will take her baby to have the injections as she has decided that it is the safest choice for her child’s long-term health.
There are parents who wouldn’t dream of given pharmaceutical drugs to their child and others who routinely give them for pain and fevers. Some choose to feed their child organic foods whilst others skim passed the organic choices in the weekly shop.
And look at how young that mother is! She looks young enough to be her baby’s big sister. On the other hand, look at her- she’s far too old to have the energy to raise a child. And why is that woman working such long hours? Why did she even decide to have a kid if she just wants to pay other people to raise it? And guess what? My neighbour is a stay-at-home mum! What on earth does she do all day? It’s alright for some being able to stay at home and watch TV all day.
In countless number of ways we are all being judged, weighed-up and put into a box. Sometimes we will be completely unaware of the process of being judged and found guilty of some crime against motherhood and some way in which that person believes they are superior somehow. And sometimes we are all too aware of being found wanting in some way. Somebody has decided that we are not the best mother we can be, for if we were we wouldn’t be choosing to do it this way.
I must hold my hand up and admit to you here that I do believe that the way I do things is largely the right way. I do think I’m making the best choice available to me with the knowledge I hold at this time. I do of course make poor choices. I do make mistakes and sometimes with the wisdom of hindsight I can see that I was foolish, ill-informed or just plain lazy and would change my decision or course of action if I was allowed to go back in time and re-do it. This said though, I still maintain that in the main, the way I’m doing things is the right way.
So when I look at you, and I see you making different choices based upon your culture, your moral compass and your family values, I may judge you in the first instant. I could pretend that I don’t, that I’m somehow above the crass act of judgement, but I’d be lying. I stare at the world from the perspective of my own point of view and it is natural and to be expected that I will note differences and decide if that difference is better or worse than the way I choose to view or do things.
After the knee-jerk, split-second, unconsciously processed impulse has played out though, my compassion, humanity and empathy rise and take my response from the gut reactions of my lower-brain to the thinking, conscious frontal lobes. Why have I judged you and your choice? I don’t walk in your shoes and haven’t been shaped by the experiences and influences that you have.
I will remember that I don’t know your strengths and weaknesses and your hidden joys and sorrows. I don’t know if you or your child has a hidden affliction that I can’t see from looking at you. Is your child autistic? Do you have rheumatoid arthritis? Has your partner been unemployed for some time? Are you widowed? Do mental health issues affect your family? Are you raising the baby alone? Perhaps money is so tight in your home that you can only heat one room of the house and even then only in the evenings. Perhaps infertility affected you before you bore the baby I see you holding. Maybe motherhood is all that you dreamed it would be. Maybe motherhood has sapped you of time, energy and joy in your life.
The tag-line for my company is ‘Because Home is Where the Start Is.’ Our parenting endeavours are a work of great importance, playing out in the mundane and everyday environments in which we are all raising our children.
We are creating the next generation with our every parenting move. We! We are doing this. Not just you in your home raising children the way you think is right. Not just me, raising my children in my home the way I think is right. All of us. Just like the puzzle-pieces being sewn and created with the individual style and flair of each artist, your children and family are being created by the flair and style with which you choose to live your life. And we all come together in the giant mismatched patchwork of our society and our humanity.
So I will be kind to other mothers. I will see them doing the best that they can. I will hope that they will show kindness and compassion to me, regardless of differences of opinion and parenting-practices they see.
Our children will be the workers, the states-people, the business owners, the parents, the teachers, the activists, the authorities and the artists of the future. Be kind to their mums as they raise these future custodians of the societies we live in. Remember that these children will be the carers of us in our old people’s homes and of our grandchildren in their nurseries. Kindness begets kindness and when we are treated well we in turn treat others much better.
So be kind to the mothers of the world. Smile at them, reach out to them, share, laugh, cry and talk with them. Be aware of your judgements and mindful of how you act upon them. That is all.
You can read more from Tara Green at www.theparentinggeek.com: Mum of 3, wife of 1, school counselor & parenting coach of many. Cook of little talent.
If you liked this post you might like these other fab posts in our Mama Activism series:
Activate Mama Bloggers (about Team HONK and Red Nose Day)
And these Mama Activism posts from us at story of mum:
We also talked about Mama Activism at our last #somum Make Date.
And please sign Save the Children’s Race Against Hunger campaign petition.
How do you make kindness part of your daily life as a mum?