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I had a conversation with a mom a while ago that really made me think.
She was worried about her two-year-old, who had become a picky eater. Frustrated with the meal-time battles and the fact that her toddler had just learned to say the word no, this mom threw her hands up and said, “My husband and I decided we’re failing as parents.”
It broke my heart.
Anybody who has had a two-year-old knows that these types of battles are totally normal.
I understood this mom’s frustration, because I’ve been there.
As I was telling her that, she said, “I don’t know. Maybe I should join a mom’s group or something. I don’t usually talk about this kind of stuff.” I could see the relief she felt in sharing, and I agreed, telling her how much mom’s groups helped me, especially during those first few years.
“I’m not sure, though,” she said, hesitating. “I just feel like any moms groups I’ve heard about have been judgmental and negative.”
That broke my heart too.
But unfortunately, I think it’s safe to say we’ve all been guilty of judging other moms at one point or another.
I saw this one day when I was at the doctor’s office picking up medicine for my daughter when she had strep throat. Another mom, about 8 1/2 months pregnant, sat near me, looking exhausted. Her daughter (about two) clung to her leg, coughing and crying, and her son (about four) ran around the waiting room.
When the little girl’s cries got louder and the mom didn’t respond, people in the waiting room began to stare. I could almost hear them thinking…Why isn’t that mom doing something?
After several minutes, the mom tiredly leaned over and picked the little girl up. Suddenly, the crying stopped… and her daughter threw up. Everywhere. There was an audible gasp in the room. And plenty more stares.
I hurried to the counter, grabbed the Kleenex off the nurse’s station, and brought it back to the mom, whose look of appreciation gave me a lump in my throat. I could feel her embarrassment and exhaustion.
I could feel the irritation in the room too, as if it was the mom’s fault her daughter got sick.
With this mom in the doctor’s office, I just felt sorry for her. But I have to be honest; there have been times I was the one doing the judging…
When Katie was born, Mike and I started off parenting with a six-week parenting class. We read a bunch of books and tried to get as many tools under our belts as we could. And as Katie became a toddler and started to test us, she didn’t get away with much (the poor first child). We implemented what we learned and were pretty happy with the results.
Up to that point, when I would see other kids throwing a tantrum and the mom not doing anything about it, I’d sometimes wonder why is the mom allowing that? Why isn’t she doing X, Y, or Z? In other words, I judged.
Then there was that fateful day in Target when Katie was about two and a half (just old enough to start having some real tantrums of her own) and she threw herself prostrate on the floor, kicking and SCREAMING. No matter what I did, no matter what X, Y, or Z consequence I promised, there was no stopping her.
It was humbling, to say the least.
I got more than a few stares as I carried her out of the store (me hot-flashing with embarrassment, and her kicking wildly).
Ever since then, when I see kids acting out like that, I feel for the mom instead of judging her. Because I’ve been there. We’ve all been there at one point or another, no matter how well we discipline or how many parenting books we read.
Every child is different and every mom is different, and what works for one parent or child may not work for another.
And sometimes–yes—we mess up.
We don’t handle situations the way we should, or we aren’t consistent.
Let’s not judge each other, moms.
We come from different walks of life, backgrounds, and families.
If we’ve perfected our kids’ nap schedules, we shouldn’t judge moms who drive their kids around so they’ll fall asleep in the car. And if we don’t think a nap schedule is important, we shouldn’t judge moms who do. If our kids go to public school, we shouldn’t judge moms who home school. And if we home school, we shouldn’t judge moms who don’t. The list could go on and on.
We’re different people with different reasons for the decisions we make, or have to make.
But we’re all moms.
And we’re in this together.
Motherhood is hard enough without the judging stares or whispers from others that make us feel like we’re failing.
So the next time we see a mom struggling or handling a situation differently than we would, instead of judging, let’s help her, or smile at her, or pray for her, or encourage her.
If we all did that, just think how much easier being a mom would become.
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” ~Matthew 7:1-3 NIV
Be More Blissful: Do you ever feel like you can’t be real with other moms? That you’re the only one struggling with certain issues or frustrations? I promise you, you’re not alone. Being honest and vulnerable with others helps you know that. Reach out and share your challenges with another mom today.
A Mom’s Prayer: God, I don’t want to be a judging mom. Help me to not be so hard on myself or others. Let words of encouragement flow through me. I know there are no perfect parents. Help me to see the good in the moms in my life – in my mom, my mother-in-law, my sister, my grandma, myself, and in the friends you have surrounded me with. Thank you for the way these moms have blessed me. Help me to be a blessing back! – Amen
*This post is an excerpt taken from chapter 5 of Genny Heikka’s new book Finding Mommy Bliss, available in the app store for only $1.99! Download the free Snippet reading app onto your iPhone or iPad and you will find her book there!
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