I don’t know what was going around, but I was struck down with a nasty cold virus that had me practically bed ridden for nearly 4 weeks. I finally am feeling better and got mostly caught up on my housework last week. Every time I looked at my blog I didn’t know what to write about to come back, finally some inspiration hit.
Earlier today an acquaintance on Facebook asked for a bit of parenting advice. I offered some based on my experience. A few other women responded along the lines of “don’t do that, you could hurt the baby.” I don’t know these women, I don’t know what their experiences as mothers are, and they don’t know me. They were not aggressive or rude in their comments, but what I felt like I was reading was something more like “you frickin’ moron, why on earth would would ever do something like that? Are you trying to kill your child or something?” Internally, I jumped into defensive mode, “I did this with all of my children, my mom did it with her children. Women have been doing this for centuries! What makes your way so much better?” Thankfully, my better judgment kicked in before I posted anything else. I realized that just like I was posting based on my experience, these women were posting based on their experience, whatever it is.
But why did I feel so defensive?
I think that our society has become VERY judgmental of today’s parents, especially today’s moms. Every decision we make is met with harsh and sometimes even threatening judgments. A woman who decides to nurse her hungry 6 month old under a blanket in public may end being accused being a horrible mom who is sexually abusing her baby, if for some reason her story ends up online. If that same woman offers an occasional bottle of formula so she can go out without the baby she is judged as a horrible mom who is abandoning and practically poisoning her child with formula, and destroying any chance that child has of being an honor roll student.
Breastfeed/bottle-feed, spanking/timeout, crib/co-sleep, stay-at-home-mom/working-mom, there are a myriad of decisions a parent has to make for each child. Parents, especially moms, become very passionate about some of these decisions. I think sometimes we become defined by our choices, we feel that an “attack” (i.e. different opinion) on our choice is an attack on us. We sometimes judge our own skill as a mother.
I am certainly not guiltless in judging other moms by the choices they make. I have built myself up with thoughts of “I would NEVER do that! I’m a better mother than her!” But I try to remind myself, I am not that child’s mother, I do not know what that child and that mother are going through, I do not know what that child needs. I do not know whole story!
I have also judged myself as inadequate because I don’t feed my children only organic snacks, my children did not potty train within two weeks after turning two, I have caved in to candy at the checkout just so my child will be quiet. I feel the judgment of other moms at Target, other moms on Facebook, and especially those moms out there writing for parenting magazines or doing segments on GMA, the women who earn a living being MOM. They have it all together. They would NEVER do that! They are better mothers than me! But, I try to remind myself, they are not my child’s mother, they do not know what my child and I are going through, they do not know what my child needs. They do not know whole story!
Every child is different. Even with my own three boys I have made some different choices. Some choices I have made from my past experiences, some choices I have made because what worked great with one boy only made things worse with the next. Because each child is different it is foolish to judge the choices a parent makes while parenting one child against the choices a parent makes while parenting any other child, even if it is the same parent!
So, try to remember, the only thing you need to know to pass judgment on all moms (including yourself):
Is your child overall happy & healthy?
If the answer is yes then it doesn’t matter if you breastfeed or bottle-feed, if you spanked or used timeout, if you used a crib or co-slept, if you are a stay-at-home-mom or are a working-mom. It doesn’t even matter if your child throws an occasional temper tantrum at Target or is snacking on only organic vegetables. Your child is happy and healthy:
you are an amazing mom!
P.S. One more thing to remember if you constantly feel like everyone else is a better mom than you: