Caryn: Probably a month ago now, our pet snail Trappy died. When my 7-year-old son asked how I think she died, I said, “Well, she had 10 babies within a month’s time. I’m guessing she was exhausted.”
To which my son said: “Yeah. But she was a terrible mother. She totally ignored them. So I don’t know why she’d be so tired.”
To which I said: “Good point.”
Truth be told, Trappy was a terrible mother. Seriously. Never once did I see her anywhere near any of these crazy baby snails (and if anyone out there can tell me how and where these snails came from—when we don’t have any boy snails around—I’d appreciate it!). It just seemed like every couple days, we’d notice another tiny shell in the tank and Trappy would just be business as usual–hanging on the gravel, sucked onto the side of the tank, just looking for her algae.
And I have to admit, I loved Trappy for being such a bad mom. It was nice to have my children periodically comment on how she never played with her babies or got them food or snuggled them or anything. They would tell me this in contrast to me—a.k.a. the best mom in the house.
So I sort of encouraged this view of Trappy the Bad Mom Snail. Putting her down lifted me up. Of course.
I didn’t feel at all bad about this—or convicted in any way—until her babies started dying. When Trappy went to Jesus, her babies started kicking off too. We had 10 when she died. Now we have 2.
At first I attributed the snail deaths to something in the water—the thing that perhaps killed Trappy—but now I’m wondering. Was Trappy perhaps not such an awful mother? Was she actually caring for her snails in some way and now that she’s gone, her babies can’t survive without her?
So naturally, now I’m riddled with guilt. While I still have no idea why our snails are dying (and you’ll notice that I’m not talking about how I rushed out to seek help for them…..), I am convicted of my ever-quick willingness to judge another mom. Whether I know anything about her life or the way she raises her children or anything.
I seriously though that my whole journey as a mother who felt so judged by the world “cured”‘ me of my own motherjudgement, but my harshness to Trappy is kind of bringing to mind a bunch of other situations where I STILL tend to judge other moms—different moms—pretty unfairly.
So I don’t know what my point is–but I just wanted to come clean a bit and say as much as I try not to and as much of a “good game” I talk about mother being a motherjudger, I am. Probably always will be.
Carla: Maybe Trappy died of shame because she could feel your judgmental stares. I think she totally knew what you thought of her. Her last moments on earth were probably spent thinking, “You know what blondie? You try having 10 kids. Let’s see how long you last. And don’t pretend like dinging around on Facebook is any more maternal than sucking on the side of a tank because it’s not. Think I’m a bad mom? Watch how the kids do without me….”
I am pretty much over feeling judged for my mothering, mostly because my eldest child has turned out so well and I figure even if I go one out of three, that’s pretty good. But I do find myself having to turn off my internal motherjudger more often than I’d like.
I find that I rarely judge moms I know. Instead, I save my sense of superiority for total strangers. I think it’s because it’s so much easier to imagine that some random woman is dumb or lazy or careless than to cast aspersions on women I know are anything but. And really, isn’t the whole point of the judging thing to make ourselves feel better?
If I may quote the brilliant Bruce Cockburn for a moment, “Can it be so hard to love yourself without thinking someone else holds a lower card? Grow up you.”
Caryn: Judging might just be my favorite sin. (Don’t forget to keep checking here for more information on the Mommy Revolution event at Christianity21. Just over a couple weeks away!!!)