I'm the judgy mom.
That's right, you got me! You were always right, do you feel better now? Vindicated? Validated? Good, that's what I was hoping for. Take a minute to pat yourself on the back. I'll wait.
Ok, continuing on now. And don't worry if you secretly want to judge me back for being judgy. That's ok, indulge a bit. We'll all be one big, happy, judgy family. It's a good thing.
So what am I judging you for? Well, let me tell you so we can clear the air and just get it all out into the open.
Did you plan your pregnancy? Or was it a not so happy 'accident'? Judging you.
Did you not even attempt to breastfeed because you thought it was icky or stupidly believed that formula was 'just as good'? Totally judging you.
Practice Cry-It-Out? Feed them solid foods before six months old? Yep, judging here too.
Are you an anti-vaxxer? Sorry not sorry, just judginess.
Do you spank? Is their car seat forward facing by the time they're a year old? Do you stuff your kids with junk and McDonald's so that they are fat little butterballs huffing and puffing just trying to walk briskly while eating a twinkie? Do you cuss and yell at them? Judging, judging, judging, judging.
I'm sure there's more, but those all seem to be the biggest offenders that cause everyone's panties to collectively wad up.
Before I became a mom, I thought about becoming a mom. A lot. I thought about what it would mean, I thought about the responsibility, of raising this little being into a person. I thought about the things I would want to teach them, about the things I wanted to do differently from the way I was raised. I read so many things. I wanted to be a good mother, the best one I could be. And that took admitting to myself that I didn't know everything, that there were deeply held ideas and notions about parenting that I was wrong about. I researched, I sought out information that could teach me a better way, that could teach me the things I didn't know.
And then I took the plunge and got pregnant and had a baby and now my little man is going to be two years old in a matter of weeks. Crazy how quickly time goes by, never so quickly as since becoming a mom. Sometimes I toy with the idea (jokingly of course) of tying bricks to his head to see if it would make him stay little just a little longer.
Am I a perfect parent? Hell no, of course I'm not! No one is, and I'll be the first to admit that I've made mistakes, that I didn't always do my very best, that I have some regrets for how I did this or that. Parenting, just like a little kid, is a process of growth. Or at least it should be. For many, it isn't. They assume they know best, better than the therapist, the teacher, the behavioral specialist, the child psychologists, the doctors, etc. They are Mom and if they think something they are doing is ok for their kid, then by golly, it doesn't matter how much research, science and data says otherwise, they are right dammit and how dare anyone even suggest that maybe they aren't! This idea that people have, honestly, baffles me. What do they think would happen if they acknowledged to themselves that they were wrong, integrated new information, and changed the way they were doing something? The apocalypse? Trust me, you're not that important. Maybe you'd have to work a little harder, try a little harder. Your sense of self and identity will not fade away, I promise.
Because you know that's how the world works right? That's how development works. That's how we've gone from living in caves and shitting in a hole in the ground and believing demons caused the cold to a developed country where we have technological/scientific/medical advances that would get us all burned as witches just a few hundred years ago! We learn. We change. We grow. When we KNOW better, we can DO better. Or rather, we can make the CHOICE to do better. Sadly, for many it seems sticking to "it's always been done this way", and "it worked for me and I turned out fine", among others is the fall back response for resisting change. Do you know how many thousands of people died before it was finally recognized and accepted that bacteria (and not demons) caused disease and simply washing your hands could prevent the spread of it? Untold thousands.
Parenting is no different. We are learning more and more everyday about how the brain works and develops, how children learn and grow and understand things. Why wouldn't we also want to learn and understand so that we can do the best for our children? When did that get twisted and seen as trying to shame people? Because in our overly politically correct and passive aggressive world were we're always afraid to be seen as 'judging' someone, what we really mean is 'shaming' someone. Those two words are not interchangeable, they mean different things. Shaming consists of trying to make someone feel terrible, of humiliating them, of expressing just how beneath you they are. To judge is to come to a conclusion and make a choice. 'Judging' is not a dirty word.
Everyone judges, all the time. That's how we decide everything. We judge something, weigh the merits of it versas what we already know, and make a decision. Now people use it when someone doesn't agree with you and thinks you're doing something wrong. So that person must think negatively of you. So that person is judging you, and how dare they! They have no right!
Yes. Yes they do. I am perfectly within my right to absolutely believe that cry-it-out is a very bad thing and that neither you, or anyone, should do it. I have tons of scientifically backed research that explains why I think that. Just like I do for all those other things on that list up there. I, as a parent, as someone who understands that I don't know everything and that if I want to do my best for my son then I must continue to learn, believes that no other parent should do it either. I believe no parent should assume they automatically know best and discount all the available information out there based on nothing more than flimsy excuses. It is our job and responsibility to be better for our children.
By now you're probably thinking I'm a terrible person and are perhaps calling me a few choice words in your head. That's ok too, I'm good with that. But let me explain something else, something very important.
Can I still think that you are an awesome parent that loves your children, even if you do something I don't like? Yes. Can I still like and respect you as a person? Yes. Can I still get along with you and be friends? Yes. Am I going to try to shame you and make you feel like you're a horrible parent that doesn't love their kid? No, I am not about that. Am I going to preach at you and shove my thoughts down your throat? Of course not. You're an adult and are perfectly capable of finding that information on your own. Preaching at you is unnecessary and I wouldn't want someone doing it to me, so I have no interest in doing it to you. But if the topic comes up, am I going to politely keep my mouth shut or say "I don't like that for me and my kids, but it's totally ok if you do it! Tee hee!"? No, I'm not, because I honestly don't believe it is ok and I will always believe that no matter how small, those things are causing harm in some way, shape or form. Sometimes a lot, sometimes only a little. I wish you wouldn't do it, I think you're making a wrong choice. But so what? I still respect your right to make your own mistakes just like I'm quite certain I'm making mistakes too. It's not that big of a deal that I don't like something you do and you don't like something I do. I really don't want to surround myself with people that smile tightly while muttering "mm-hmm"s of non-commital agreement and politely approving of every action I take. No thanks.
I want challenge, and discussion, agreement and disagreement. I want lively conversations where people don't get butt hurt when someone doesn't instantly smile and nod in agreement while their eyes look glazed like plastic. Where communication comes from openness and not fear, with positive passion and not passive compliance. Where opposing sides of an issue can be discussed and people can agree to disagree, and still be smiling because no ones feelings are hurt and hey maybe you both learned something new. Where understandings are made, facts are presented and heard and not ignored or dismissed. Where the conversation (read- conversation, not argument) begins as friends and ends just as good of friends. That's not really all that much to ask is it?
So go ahead, call me out for judging you and I'll heartily agree, you're right, I am judging you. If you look, I'm certain you can find something I'm doing that you don't like too. We can still be friends, if you want, and as long as you're panties tend to firmly stay in place we should get along just fine. Come be judgy with me.