A lot of moms claim to feel judged by other moms for a lot of reasons, and it’s easy to see why. It’s not even just the Mommy Wars and the media pitting us against each other to see who is a better mom, who can “do it all” and “have it all” the best (when we all know that such a thing is a joke). I think we all perpetuate this mummy shunnery in our own lives without even meaning to.
I have been making a concentrated effort to not talk about homeschooling much—if at all—when among moms who don’t homeschool not because I don’t like to talk about it (on the contrary, I could talk about it all day, which bores some people to pieces!), but because it makes them uncomfortable.
I used to think that this was attributed to the fact that they looked down on homeschoolers—they thought we were weird, or unsocialized, or beneath them, or whatever. But now I realize that many of them either think we are snobby with a too-good for public school stance, or even that we mean to make them feel guilty since we consider ourselves better parents (we don’t!) than parents of school-attending children. It’s hard to see how my daily actions, meant to be what I think is best for my family and me, could be seen as a direct affront to others, but I understand it now.
For starters, I encountered the same thing as a vegetarian. People could say, “I’m Catholic” or “I’m Irish” and nobody would bat an eye, but if I said, “I’m vegetarian,” people were immediately defensive, demanding to know why. It turned out that many thought that I thought I was better than they were—or taking the moral high ground—when I was only trying to live what I felt was an ethical lifestyle. Homeschooling seems to be the same way.
And now I am encountering the same thing with other moms, and I have to remind myself that it’s not personal for me, but for them. I know a few moms who are completely anti-sugar, and I have to stop myself from having my feathers ruffled when my daughter eats a cookie or drinks some lemonade in front of kids whose moms tell them no. I know moms who use curriculum when I don’t, and they look at me like I’m some kind of lazy bug (no matter that our days may even be more rigorous and my job just as demanding compiling resources and planning events), who count calories or lament their body size when I am much bigger and eat my nachos at mom’s night with a smile (albeit a strained one when I feel their gaze upon me; it’s one thing to be happy and quite another to feel…judged).
It’s hard to not worry about what others think. I know many women (and men) learn this important skill when they’re older (they’ll even say they’re too old to care); maybe we should chat with them a bit to see how to get past these feelings of shunnery, this judgment culture.