This particular topic has been a huge one on my mind ever since I got pregnant. It seems that the moment you are officially "knocked up" people feel they have been granted the right to criticize, judge, and comment about every move you make (not to mention every move you don't). Suddenly it's as if you have asked every stranger on the street"Excuse me but do I look fat to you?" or "Pardon me but would you mind telling me how to parent?"
Now the thing is, I know I've been guilty of it too. Before I got pregnant I knew exactly how my friends should parent. I knew how much weight was acceptable to gain and was positive that any person gaining more than that amount was simply sloppy. Well, let me tell you, a little dose of reality can really put things in perspective. First of all, I realizedquickly that being pregnant was nothing like I had imagined, and although I actually gained less than I thought acceptable I quickly discovered that it has nothing to do with what you eat or how much you exercise. Although those things may slightly affect it, the truth is every body's different. The way you carry, the way it affects your body, are basically beyond your control. Then my daughter was born and I was in for another eye opener. Suddenly all those things I had seen other mom's do and VOWED against didn't seem so out there.
For example, here are a few of the things I thought I'd never do and the time it took to break my vow:
Lick my baby's soother before putting it in her mouth. (broken in six weeks)
Change my baby's diaper in a public place without a change table (probably broken in the first month)
Allow my baby to have sugar before a year (broken at 8 months (and that's not counting natural sugars like fruit)
Let my child watch tv (My daughter has sat an watched friends with me (for about 5 minutes until she gets bored) since she was 4 months old)
These are just a few, there are many more. I realized very quickly that I had been harsh on my friends who had had children before me. Who was I to judge? I really had no idea. Several months ago in my parenting magazine a mom wrote in about how her daughter was autistic and she often got nasty looks for the tantrums her daughter would have in public. People thought she was ignoring her daughter or being too lenient. They even said so to her face. But they didn't know what was really going on. She talked about how much it hurt, and how all she really needed was the support of other mom's. That article really drove the point home. We don't know what's going on in another mom's shoes.
As a mom I know there are days when I'm just at the end of my rope and what I really need is another moms prayers, not her judgment because I let my daughter stay up late because I didn't have the energy to put her to bed at 8. I've been on the judged end and it's miserable. Once when my daughter was only a few weeks old I had to taker her into the city alone. While walking through the mall with her in the snuggly she began to scream to be fed. She was not a patient newborn. She went from zero to screaming like a banshee in 2.2 seconds flat! I was exhausted and overwhelmed and was looking for the nearest nursing room which was on the other end of the mall. All of a sudden this woman came up alongside me and started saying "She's wet, she needs to be changed.You need to change her diaper." I started ignoring her and she literally followed me halfway across the mall harping on me! It was the last thing I needed. Another time a woman literally screamed at me and my husband for having our daughter at a concert which wasn't even loud (she slept through it!) I felt guilty for weeks even though I knew she was fine!
I guess what I'm saying is, let's cut each other some slack. As moms we constantly give ourselves enough guilt, we don't need it heaped on by others. We should be shoulders to lean on, not pointing fingers. We don't know what the other person is going through that day. Has their baby been sick for a week? Are they a single mom? Has their husband been working late a lot? Does their child have a disability? Are they strugglingwith post partum? The truth is we can't tell. But we CAN be sympathetic rather than PAthetic and judge them. We can say a prayer rather than punish them with our scowls. So the next time you see a mom getting mad at her kid in the mall, or licking her baby's soother (;o)) say a prayer and maybe even offer a sympathetic smile.You never know when you might be her.
P.S. I chose this pic today because one umbrella is facing a different direction.