always appreciate the mother commenters of the world who offer up the
non-judgmental reactions to articles I write with remarks like, "To each her
own!" or "Good for you for knowing what works for you!"
like those put the warm fuzzies in my writer's heart and a spring in my
motherhood step, because it's so true, isn't it? Not one mother walks in the
shoes of another mother, and what a wonderful world it would be if we could just
all stop judging each other.
in all honesty, I think it can be OK to judge other mothers. But before the
e-stoning commences, allow me to explain.
back to the last time that you judged another woman — and don't pretend you've never, because you have. It may have been something completely small,
like judging a mother who dares to have the audacity to write about judging
other mothers, or something big, like secretly thinking that your best friend
should have tried harder to breastfeed.
happens because it happens, but instead of rushing to act on our judgments and
publicly spar with other mothers, whether in-person or behind the safety of our
screens, I think that we can actually learn from our judgments.
for instance, the breastfeeding one. Whether or not you publicly admit it, you
may be the type of mother who secretly thinks that breastfeeding is best, and
while you would never tell anyone that, you may feel just a teensy bit sad for
all formula-fed babies out there and their mothers for missing out on what has
been a great experience for you.
In a way, "judging" other mothers can be just a form of helping us wade through the very vast sea of mothering options out there.
But instead of feeling badly for your
judgmental ways, you may just take a step back and ask yourself what your
judging says about you. You may be
surprised to discover that you are not, in fact, a horrible person. It's just
that your judgment may lead you to understand how breastfeeding is a top
priority for you — such a priority, in fact, that it led you to make a lot of
other decisions about your life, like not working, enjoying less "me" time
because you can't handle the thought of leaving your baby or giving up
exercising because the milk-makers hurt when they jiggle.
All of this pondering may just lead you to realize that — gasp — your priorities in
life are just that: your priorities. You
might secretly wonder why all moms don't breastfeed just because you love it so
much, and "judging" another mother who chooses not to actually reinforces
your own priorities.
So, in a way, "judging"
other mothers can be just a form of helping us wade through the very vast sea
of mothering options out there.
face it. There are a million and one ways to parent and sometimes, it can be
hard to determine how we feel about them all. I think, in a somewhat twisted way,
that the way we judge other parental decisions can help us determine what is
important to us as parents.
you take extreme offense when another mother writes an article that she prefers
to be covered up when nursing? OK, so you now know that you will have no
problem breastfeeding at a restaurant without a cover-up.
you quip, "It must be nice to not worry about money!" to the stay-at-home mom
who guiltlessly drops her kids off at the sitter's so she can work out? That
judgmental bone in your body may be crying out for bringing exercise back in
you sarcastically note to your partner that the perfectly coiffed working
mother has no clue what it's like to wade in bodily excretions all day long as
a job? You may just be in dire need of a break, my friend.
not saying that we all need to run around judging other parents and yelling out
obscenities and breaking down the doors of people we don't agree with. All I'm
saying is that when we first feel that familiar urge or knee-jerk reaction in
judging another parent, we may just want to stop asking what our judgment says
about them — and instead ask what all
that judgment is trying to tell us.