Alright. I’m just going to be honest here.

When I was pregnant, I had it in the bag. IN THE BAG, PEOPLE. Like, get outta my way. I was gonna nail this mothering thing. Not in an in-your-face sorta way. But more of a I’m-up-for-the-challenge-and-I’m-gonna-do-it-right. (OK, maybe there was a little in-your-face going on.) This is not typically my style, but I was 35 when I had my child and was bound and determined to get it right.

I was going to be a stay at home mom. Proud of this decision, I chattered with other friends who had made the same decision. We reveled in our good mothering choices. I secretly formed some pretty strong opinions about people who decided to use daycare. Being a stay at home mom, I would make dinner every night. (You know, cause of all of that free time. Duh.) I was going to use cloth diapers exclusively. I planned to breastfeed.

And then I had my daughter. And maternity leave was wonderful. And I wanted to stay home. And then we looked at our budget. And it just wasn’t in the stars. Could we have made severe cuts to our already-modest budget? Yup. Was I willing to? Nope. So, with a heavy heart, I entered my daughter into what has turned out to be a wonderful daycare. A daycare that required that we use disposable diapers. I also used those disposable diapers when we were on the go and out of the house all day because I felt overwhelmed by the thought of managing cloth diapers while on the run. I did continue to use cloth at home, however. And I breastfed for 14 solid months before transitioning my daughter to cows’ milk. But, uh, that dinner thing? Please see here for the truth.

So, clearly, there were parts of my plan that materialized. And parts that just totally imploded, leaving me with some traces of guilt and occasional feelings of failure.

So here’s the ugly truth. I judged behind people’s backs, and sometimes passive aggressively to their faces. This includes people in my life that I really like, people that I love. And I felt judgment passed on me by other mothers in the same ways. I smirked when I read articles and blog posts that supported my decisions and gasped when I read pieces that slammed my choices.

And while saying it’s been a journey might sound a bit cliche, that’s exactly what it feels like. It’s been a series of lessons and required some practice. And I’ll tell you what has helped me to change my perspective:  talking to other moms, listening to other moms, and knowing how it feels to be judged. I know how much I love my daughter and I know that I put all of my heart into my parenting. And I’m so proud of the little lady she’s becoming. When I add all of that together, the only thing I can think is that most moms must feel the same way, right? Don’t we all love our kids with all of our hearts? Don’t we all question our choices sometimes, striving to be better parents, wanting only the best for them? Don’t get me wrong — I think it’s human to identify with those that share similar choices. But there’s a dark side of tearing down other women for making choices that they feel are best simply because they are different than mine. Different parenting choices do not necessarily equal poor parenting choices.

Part of striving to be judgement free has also meant that I need to accept my own decisions. Sometimes this can be harder than not judging the decisions of others. Hey, I know that I can be my own worst critic, so the last thing I need is more criticism. In the same vein, I think it’s my duty to try to extend the same courtesy to other moms. Obviously, parenting never stops — choices never stop. So, today I choose to support other moms and stand behind your choices to love your children in whatever way you choose.

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