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.
9 thoughts on “My Journey Into Judgement Free Parenting”
I enjoy reading articles about the latest research on things like vaccinations, breastfeeding, cosleeping, letting babies cry it out, public school versus homeschool, babywearing, so on and so forth (I also like reading the mommy war threads because they too can be very informative). Is it wrong to share these studies/articles/research with other women? Sometimes I feel posts like these encourage us women to ignore the fact that sometimes, there are better parenting choices out there than the ones we’re currently making. I think the “mommy war” mentality and defensiveness come from people being so set in their ways, they get mad when someone suggests a different path.
I for one have learned a great deal from my parenting research over the past 10 years, and I have changed my ways many times to try to become a better mother. I realize that things don’t work out perfectly, life is crazy and imperfect, but isn’t it true to say that some parenting methods are technically better than others? Like the TV thing, I don’t see what’s wrong with saying, “parents should try to limit a kids TV time”. I don’t think that’s being unsupportive, it’s just stating a fact. My own son watches too much TV. I watch too much TV! haha But I don’t get upset when studies show up on my newsfeed that say “parents: it’s best to limit TV time”. I say to myself, “yeah we should really work on that.” And then, when talking to another mother, I might bring up the study on limiting TV time. I would say, “I read this study, and I think it has a point. Now, we are trying to limit TV time more.” She would reply, “We love TV, I don’t think we could do it.” Then I’d say, “Yeah, it’s really hard to do.” The end. Now, what’s wrong with that??
I completely agree we should all support each other, but I still think it’s equally important to keep each other informed. That way we can make the best choices possible for our kids. We need to be open to other possibilities, and not just our own.
I make very different parenting choices from my friends. Yet, we all support each other, and when we ask each other why we do what we do, we openly discuss it. We don’t try to sugar coat it either. We all feel strongly about our parenting choices. Hence, the mommy wars. But at the same time, we are all open to each others suggestions.
Which is why, I personally like the “mommy wars”, because they have helped me grow as a mother. I enjoy discussing the latest parenting research. I love reading articles about why women do what they do. I think we can still love and support each other, without completely ignoring our differences or sugarcoating the choices we make.
I agree with you, Angela. I like to keep myself informed as well. I don’t feel that I sugar coat things. And I’ve changed my perspective and opinions on parenting by talking to other moms, listening to other moms, and being open to suggestions — by admitting that I don’t have all of the answers. Which is exactly what I thought I was writing about. I’m not sure if that wasn’t clear in my post or if you maybe just didn’t read the whole thing. Or any of it?
And I didn’t actually mention the “mommy wars”, but my understanding of them is tearing down other women for making choices that they feel are best simply because they are different than mine.
So maybe we’re more on the same page than you think?
Right there with you too lady! Great post!
Tara- you so eloquently put down into words what I thought ALL THE TIME during my pregnancy!!! And pretty much during my first kid’s first year of life!! But, now as i sit here the mom of two, i’m like, um, yeah……… that homemade baby food for every single sitting? The baby food maker is still in storage!
Eating our words…. hahaha. Yep!
Right there with you!! I have found that a big part of motherhood is eating every word I said before I had kids, hahahahah
Ditto what Sarah said and awesome post, Tara! I’m sure all Mamas can relate on some level!
YES, so true!!