I need to admit something. I used to judge other moms before I had kids. I mean, I thought I knew it all. I had been a nanny, a babysitter, a teacher and an all around lover of children. I saw people with kids and judged them. My husband and I spent countless hours discussing what we would never do. We would never bring babies to Disney World. (We did.) We would never let a child scream in public. (We have.) We would never let our children run our lives and dictate how we live. (We did and do.) We would be the best parents, better than all the parents in the world. Better because we somehow knew how it should be done. I had the experience and he had the conviction and that’s what we were going on. I think our first hint of your life will change forever and your child will be running the show came when Molly came three weeks early after a surprisingly quick six hours of labor. Can I mention how life has never been the same? Are there words enough to describe how different life is with our children compared to before? Can I say that everything I knew about childcare meant nothing when it came to raising a child? I knew how to bath a baby, swaddle a baby and trim its nails. I knew the basics of feeding and diapering and all the stuff that could be taught to a monkey, essentially, but means nothing when it comes to actually raising a child. I had a child and no instruction manual, and the dreams in my head of what I wanted them to be. I just didn’t know how to get there.
Over the years I have learned so much about parenting, both little and small. I can create a routine, potty train and discipline a child. I can sing silly songs at bedtime and create a list for the grocery store in my head at the same time. I can survive the chaos of two babies in 17 months and broken bones and trips to the ER. I’ve become more confident in the knowledge that I am doing my best and learning everyday how do be a better mom. My babies are everything to me and I know what they need. I know them better than anyone else in the world. That’s why it hurts to feel judged by others for my parenting skills. I don’t think there is a mother out there that gets enough credit for the day in and day out work they do at home. I’m friends with working mama’s, military mama’s, single mama’s and at home mama’s. All of us work hard everyday to be the best we can be and I think we are all bombarded with opinions of what we could be doing better. Someone will get a small glimpse into our lives, and sometimes that glimpse is less than flattering, and they judge us.
I’ve had some bad mom moments, many of them out in public. One of my favorites (can it be called that?) was in the grocery store a year ago. I ran in with my kids and grabbed a small basket and stuffed it full and went to pay. My son had a huge fit and ran away from me countless times. He was testing my limits and I football carried him and that darn heavy basket with my daughter trailing behind us. We got in line (finally) and he ran from me, clear to the back of the store. I had no choice but to leave my daughter and my dropped wallet, change and receipts and money flying, to the back of the store to grab him. When I arrived back I was frazzled and near tears and ready to just sit on the floor and give up. The woman in front of me was kind enough to pick up my wallet, stuff everything back in and watch Molly. She helped me bag my groceries and find a cart to put everything in and at the end smiled and said, “it’s okay, it happens to us all.” That woman saved me. She didn’t judge me or take off. She knew I was struggling and stopped to help. She reassured me.
What I’m saying is this, all of us moms out there don’t need to hear the criticism. It’s in our heads already. We are all our own worst critics. There is nothing that can be said about me that I haven’t thought to myself, late at night in the darkness of my room. We don’t need the side eye looks in the grocery store, the “helpful” tips from strangers or the passive aggressive comments from relatives about how we raise our children. We want to know that what we are doing is worthy. We need to know that we’re enough. All mother’s do. So please, the next time you think something mean about another mom, or open your mouth to judge her, or question her tactics, think to your yourself, “is this necessary?” Because really, the only people that really know what is going on in someone’s house are the people living there. Not relatives or friends or neighbors. We are all struggling to raise our children the best way possible and the one thing we need to hear more is, “you’re a good mom.” From the one’s among us that mean the most and strangers, because one little compliment can make a day worthy and may even give the push that’s needed to survive another day.