As a Mom, I’ve Had to Rethink Confidence

A friend of mine turned 40 a few months ago. Wanting to know what I have to look forward to, I joked and asked whether she felt any different. Of course she said no. You don’t go to bed 39 and wake up 40 feeling joint pain with a gray streak and crow’s feet. You’re still you. But she said something that stuck with me: “I don’t care as much about what people think of me.”

Those few little words sounded so liberating to me, not caring what other people think. It’s always been the one thing I could never get over. My whole life I’ve worried about looking stupid or incompetent in others’ eyes. I still worry sometimes about not being good enough or offending others. When she said that to me, I literally thought for a moment, “That’s an option? I can just not care?”

Though my tastes may change like a three-year-old switches best friends, my beliefs have mostly held strong. I just haven’t always backed them with confidence. Why wait till 40? For much of my life I was so swept up in what little Susie thought of my new shoes or what my college roommates thought of my music choices that it took me ages to figure out what I liked and to not just follow the crowd.

In fourth grade I picked out a bright green purse I wanted for Christmas. Everyone else liked pink and purple. My sister told me green meant I was horny. I didn’t even know what that meant until my aunt explained it. Ew. But I never carried that purse because I was too afraid people would make fun of me.

As a mom you want your kids to be proud of who they are. It’s important that you get out there and glow in your own sense of self. I struggled for a long time and finally started to figure it out. I bought vintage things because I liked them. But then motherhood came along and I realized I was being judged for more than my identity. I was being judged on virtue, competence, and so much more: not being able to nurse, having a child who is a picky eater, letting my kids read Harry Potter and listen to rock music. The list goes on.

So now I find myself teaching two kids that it’s OK to be yourself while I’m still trying to navigate the waters. Remarkably, it’s my kids who have taught me the most. Seeing them on the court despite their ability, watching them flaunt a Punky Brewster outfit, it gives me courage.

On a recent shopping trip, my daughter picked out a floor-sweeping dress covered with psychedelic flowers. I would never have the guts now—or thirty years ago—to wear something so eye-popping. My daughter jumped, squealed, and begged for it. I saw it as a waste of money, too long to wear to school, and feared she’d never have the courage to wear it. My husband told her if she wanted it, she could help pay for it. She did. She wears that dress every chance she gets.

My parenting will never please everyone. There will always be a mom who disagrees with my tactics, my conduct, my values, my shoes. But I’m learning to care less what she thinks. There are more important opinions to consider.

Having confidence means having a lot more fun.

Having confidence means having a lot more fun.

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35 Comments

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35 responses to “As a Mom, I’ve Had to Rethink Confidence

  1. Yes! Amazing post. Thank you for sharing! SERIOUSLY why are mothers so judged? Ug. It’s so petty. Just when you thought middle school drama was over as you head into highschool college or even adult life.. Nope. The drama and juding still lies within all of us. We can’t help but to have our own opinions. It’s just a shame we feel the need to pressure other people into believing our own opinions. Live and let live. 🙂 thanks again !

  2. Amy

    Awesome post and amen, sister. Like the commenter above, I try to live by the mantra, live and let live. Let’s support each other, rather than tear each other down.

  3. I wish I had the confidence to hold my head high. I’m 4ft 8in, have two little girls and am only 20! I get judged all the time but I hope people look at me and realise I’m a good mum.

  4. We are supposed to care if we look stupid or incompetent? Damn, I never got THAT memo!

  5. I really relate to this topic and want more ability to not care what others think of my parenting, my choices and as you said, my shoes. My kids are great teachers in this area, at least so far. I hope they do not inherit my insecurities! Great post!

  6. This post really resonates with me. My kids have a lot to teach me in terms of not caring what others think. So far they have not inherited this insecurity. I love the idea of you not waiting for the big 40 to make this change. Once you figure it out, let me know. Please. Great post!

  7. This so timely! I just had this conversation with Dimples. She got to wear pajamas to school today. I had to run a couple of errands after school, and she hesitated about going into the grocery store with her pajamas on. I told her it was her choice, but that I learned a long time ago that while I was worrying what everyone thought about me they were were too busy worrying about what everyone thought of them to even think of me. She said, “That makes a lot of sense,” (which is amazing because it took me five minutes to understand what I had just said) and went in to the store with me. I never would have done that when I was her age, so I consider this a great victory! I probably wouldn’t do it now, either, but that’s beside the point, right?

  8. When Ming was little, I remember being judged by a couple of mothers for only having one child. I was amazed and hurt at the time but soon got over it. Around the same time, Ming too was judged as a kid who wouldn’t conform! He was 4! I LOVE this post!

  9. The Yogic Housewife

    Awesome such an important post. IT takes a hammer over the head to realise the only people we should be making happy is ourselves. everyone else is happy if we are happy 🙂

  10. This really resonates with me especially your friend’s line “I don’t care as much about what people think of me.” I recently turned 30,and all of a sudden,I don’t care if people like my hair,my accent, or my clothes,etc. Am in a new chapter where I feel like I can focus on what is important and what makes me happy. As long as am not harming people,what do I care? Thanks for sharing

    • Funny your comment about your accent. I grew up in the south and went to college with some kids a couple hours north of me. They considered themselves northerners and made fun of where I lived and my accent. How can one help either of those things? Now I love my accent, hope it never fades, and know I’d rather have southern charm than whatever they learned in their neck of the woods. 😉

  11. The story about the green purse sort of made me sad. . . thinking about how our confidence, and that of our children gets squashed so early on in life and then how long it takes to get it back. I read a post a while back from a blogger who started to praise herself in front of her children, instead of putting herself down, so that she modeled that confidence and self love. I really liked your post. Head high!!

    • I do try to never put myself down in front of my kids. I think that’s really important, and maybe that’s why they have more confidence than I did as a kid (and they certainly have moments where they lack it too). If I fail at something, I laugh or say I’ll try again but I make sure they don’t see me think of myself as a failure. The worst they get out of me is an “aw, poop.”

      And the purse, they had it in purple. I could have conformed. I tried to be different. A couple of times my son has done the same thing, picked out something in the store he really liked and then never wore it. I told him he would have to pay me back for it so he started wearing it. It seemed to solve that problem quickly! 😉

  12. great post. i’m, ahem, over 40, and i do care less about what people think. i’m much more inclined to just do what’s best for me these years, then i was for the decade preceding it, but still everyone wants to be accepted. it’s so hard to find the line, especially as a kid, with being yourself and not drawing negative attention to yourself. that sounds terrible, doesn’t it?? but kids are so mean over so little, i worry. especially middle school. it’s not really the time to be too unique. Ugh!! i think i hate myself.

    • There are some kids who are really good at taking risks and they pull it off. They laugh at themselves, aren’t easily embarrassed. They wear something strange and everyone goes crazy for it. They’ve got this cool appeal that all the kids want. I see it now with the fourth-grade boys my son hangs out with. I remember struggling with it. It’s all in the attitude, but it’s so not as easy as it sounds. Now that I’m approaching 40, I’m really trying to have a great attitude about having a gray streak, but evidently I’m not the cool kid pulling it off. 😉

  13. it takes all kinds in this world and there’s more than one way to be and to do things. it’s good for parents and kids to realize this. great post/message.

  14. A wonderful post! I struggle with that beast of self confidence and the little voice in my head telling me I am not good enough. I don’t know if any particular age will see me past this but, as you said, children are a good source of learning to overcome some of this.

  15. Excellent post!! I agree with you. I don’t care anymore. I do things the way I do them. I don’t like those Ugg shoes because every mother is wearing them along with their teens. My middle son’s fashion sense…it makes me smile. Although sometimes I do wonder if his teacher thinks we’re hobos.

  16. Love this I started to do this not right away. But I am doing this with children now. I just turned 40 and yes so what who cares is my motto

  17. Confidence comes, too, as we relax into adulthood. Whether that comes at 30 or 40 or 50 is different for everyone, of course, but I became a more confident mom over time which helped me with my second child. (All first children have the burden of teaching their parent how to parent.)

  18. As a new first time mom, I needed to hear this! Especially being reminded that I can be confident in my parenting even when others disagree- he’s too young for that, too old for that, how dare you let him cry at all, etc. I really liked your perspective here!

  19. Seriously, being a mom brings on a whole new level of judgement than I could ever have imagined! I just wrote on my blog how I feel as a nursing mom of a toddler on an airplane! Why does it seem that we will be judged by someone no matter what the choice we make? Learning to be confident in parenting is so important in light of this or as mothers we would lack the conviction and strength needed to do what we know is best for our own children. Thanks for posting this!

    • It’s tough. I’ve rethought so many decisions and been so unsure of myself all too often. I try to remember that when I see someone yelling at their kid or doing something I don’t do. It helps keep me from judging too.

  20. whitesheepblog

    Thank you it really helps!!!
    I’m a mother of two!!!

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