By Bec Adamczewski
Mothers judging other mothers. It happens, and is possibly an unavoidable part of parenthood. It’s so easy to say ‘who cares what they think’ but judgment hurts, and the worst judgment of all is the one that reflects our own judgment of ourselves.
The other kindergarten mum looked me up and down and said, “You don’t look like a graphic designer. I thought you were just a Mum.”
I was wearing tracksuit bottoms to pick up the eldest of my four children from kindergarten in a trendy suburb of Melbourne. The mother standing across from me – also a graphic designer pre-kids – was looking enviably hipster and coiffed. I felt crushed.
I could forgive her comment, but to my horror it brought to the surface what I felt about myself – I was ‘just’ a Mum. It is easy now to see how horribly incorrect that statement is – we are ALL so much more than ‘just’ a Mum. Being a mother means doing so many jobs rolled into one; nurse, teacher, umpire, cook, taxi driver… We all have dreams, passions and opinions, some of which can be put on hold for a time. That’s absolutely okay.
But at the time, the other mum’s words went around and around in my mind. I blamed her for saying something unkind – but really, deep down, the words hurt because that’s what I thought of myself. I lamented the fact that I had lost my creativity, my drive and my ‘vocation’. As a stay-at-home Mum, my days were so filled with my 4 under 4 that I couldn’t see a time where I might be able to re-connect with my passion for design. I wanted to be at home with my children but I also judged myself.
No one respects you. You have lost everything you were before children. You have lost your creativity.
You are just a Mum.
As I argued with myself in the shower (I’m sure I’m not the only one who does that, right?), I realised that I had inadvertently put these words into the mouth of the other mum. My own judgment of myself had taken a new, larger, and uglier form. Yes, there had been an offhand remark – but nothing like the chain reaction of judgment that I was feeling now.
I challenged myself to put a stop to it. I made a promise to be kinder to myself and to the mothers around me, not to put my own fears about myself in anyone else’s words, embellishing their meaning for my own self deprecation. I also promised myself there would be a time in the future where I would feel like my creative self again, and that it was something to look forward. There was no need to lament its passing.
So my words to you are – be kind to yourself. Nothing worth having is lost forever and one day – a long way in the future, or maybe sooner then you think – you’ll find yourself again. It may happen slowly at first, picking up a book that you haven’t had the headspace to read, or going for an evening jog after the children are in bed.
Or perhaps like me you will finally have time to turn on the computer and find the way back to your creative soul.
Bec Adamczewski hails from the wild and enchanting island of Tasmania, Australia where she is a stay at home mum of four young children. Bec is the graphic designer and illustrator behind Bon Mot Studio and you can find her shop on Big Cartel and Facebook as well as following her on Instagram.