“Keeping The Peace” - Reflections On The Policing of Mothers


“Fine. I’m leaving you behind”.

The mother walks away from the boy, all of 3 at best. He is wailing on the ground, she is swearing under her breath.

My daughter watches them. “Cuddle him. Crying. Cuddle his mum”, she says. She is stuck halfway up a ladder, transfixed by them.

“Nooo don’t leave meeeee”, the boy squeals.

I can feel my daughter’s distress rising, and my body closing down too.

My heart hurts with the sound - “just go to him, Mama”, I urge her silently.

Before long the critical voice in my head starts up - “How could anyone ignore their child like that?”

Wait on. Hold it righttttt there.

I realise that I am judging this woman as heartless and uncaring, (read: “a bad mum”) from a two minute public grab, with zero context.

“Where have I acted in this way?” I ask myself.

I remember the times I have given a similar ultimatum - “I’m going inside, are you coming or staying by yourself?”

I remember the times I have placed my child down screaming and moved to another room to collect myself in a last ditch attempt not to throw her against a wall with rage.

I remember the times I have felt totally exposed and judged in my public mothering and the shame that comes with it.

A primary feature of modern motherhood is the policing of ourselves and other mothers to fit the “good mother” mould.

Whenever I judge another mother I am part of the problem to the chronic under supporting of mothers, not the solution.

Whenever I think “I would never do that”, I am setting myself up to fail.

We are never only the “good” peaceful parent, or only the “bad” angry one.

We are always both, and always doing the best we can with what we know and have to work with.

Women are already policed enough without us policing each other, and I’m actively working on noticing my internal dialogue and laying down my critical baton.

Yes, she might’ve handled the situation differently under different circumstances.

Or maybe she wouldn’t.

Either way, it’s none of my business.

We’ve all had those days.

I hope theirs improved.



There are no comments yet. Be the first one to leave a comment!