My daughter started Kindergarten this year. It was a really hard transition for me, and I’m just not sure how life went by so fast that I have a kindergartener. I don’t remember much about my time in Kindergarten, but I do have a very vivid memory of sitting on carpet squares looking up around the room at laminated signs that lined the top of the wall.
“No Putdowns” was a particular sign that I remember. It hung next to the others that reminded us about school rules and classroom expectations. The no putdown sign sought to teach us at our very beginning to be kind with our words.
This elementary lesson is perfectly suited for our path in motherhood. Be kind with our hearts and words, especially to other mothers. One of the most common and poisonous putdowns I’ve seen in motherhood is the “I’d Never” statement.
The statements of “I’d Never” are made by others about a topic you are facing in your motherhood. Maybe something difficult, challenging, or maybe it is joy-filled for you and then someone else shares their “I’d Never” statement as a way to show you that your choice is somehow invalidated, incorrect or misaligned.
“I’d never formula-feed my baby.”
“I’d never let my child watch that movie.”
“I’d never work outside the home, I’d miss my kids too much.”
“I’d never let my kids watch an iPad at a restaurant.”
“I’d never let my kids sleep in our bed.”
“I’d never let my kids eat McDonalds.”
“I’d never let my kids talk that way to me.”
“I’d Never” is a passive aggressive way of mom shaming.
Saying, “I’d Never” means not understanding.
Saying, “I’d Never” means not listening.
Saying, “I’d Never” is without empathy.
Saying, “I’d Never” is without consideration for an environment, values and norms that are unlike your own.
Withholding an “I’d Never” statement is not giving permission, excuse or validation. But by refraining from saying, “I’d Never” to another mom, it is saying I don’t shame you for your parenting choices and behaviors that work in your family.
We are all doing our best.
Read that again.
As parents, we are all doing our best.
We don’t wake up and say, “Hey, you know what I’m going to half-effort this parenting thing.”
We wake up every day and give beyond what our body and mind can handle to our family and then we give more.
And you know what we really don’t need? People in our lives who make “I’d Never” putdown motherhood statements to us. We will slowly let you out of our lives because you make us feel bad about ourselves and our parenting. Life is too short and too hard for that negativity. Motherhood is hard enough; we don’t need your putdowns.
Feel the temptation to make an “I’d Never” statement? Resist the urge and instead, just try listening. Harder than normal listening. Listen for feelings. Imagine being in their place. See their motherhood. Stop thinking about yourself, your family and environment. It has no value here. Our motherhood decisions are based on our history, our children, employment and the role our partner plays. Just listen. Be her friend. Be compassionate. See her.
Remember that kindergarten classroom I told you about? There were many signs discouraging certain behavior, but there were also ones encouraging good listening, being a friend and saying warm fuzzies. You remember those, don’t you? Words of kindness.
We can use those in motherhood too.