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Judgey McJudgerson and the Merry Band of Moms

There is no shortage of judgemental people in the world, I’m sorry to say.  But there is no group more vicious, hurtful and destructive than judgemental moms.  Moms are doing a very hard job and most of us are pretty sure, in our heart of hearts, that we are screwing up our kids beyond repair.  A big part of why we feel that way are the moms standing by with stern looks, telling us that we’re doing it all wrong.  From our prenatal vitamins to childbirth to how we choose to feed our babies to whether we choose to work outside the home, some would have us believe that we’re screwing up at every turn.

I know something about maternal insecurity.  When my eldest was born, I immediately knew I was doing something wrong because my baby wouldn’t eat.  After meeting with a lactation consultant and fighting the nurses who wanted to give her a bottle, she finally decided to nurse, after a worrisome day and night.  We never did quite gel on the whole nursing thing, but I managed to get in a good three months with her before she flatly refused to nurse anymore.  You see, back then I didn’t know about nursing strikes.  I know now that if I had persisted, she would have come around and we could have continued breastfeeding as long as I liked (which, by the way, would have been way longer than three months.)  To this day she is more susceptible to illness than her brother, whose first birthday weaning was reminiscent of a junkie breaking a bad smack habit.  I am sure that I made a bad decision in my inexperience.  I also know that I made the best decision that I could and no real harm came to my baby.  In short, I forgave myself for not knowing everything.

Now imagine an internet full of superior moms pointing their virtual finger at me during that heart-wrenching time.  It would have completely broken me.  Yet there are plenty of moms out there who are itching for the chance to tell their sister mommies all the reasons that their way is not only the best way, but the only correct way.  This is the most despicable behavior I’ve ever witnessed.  Really, how dare you?

I believe that it really does take a village.  We owe it to each other to share our experiences, our beliefs and our advice.  There’s a fine line between advice and judgement and we must tread it carefully.  I am a woman of strong opinions and I admit that I have had moments when I strongly disagreed with things that I’ve seen other moms do.  The critical decision that I make, every single time, is to keep my mouth shut.  It is not my place to raise anyone else’s children.  My job is to raise my own children in the best way I can and allow every other mom to make her own decisions, based on her experience, her priorities and what is best for her family.  It’s just not my business.  The odds that I really understand all the factors that led her to those choices are miniscule, anyway, so how dare I presume to judge?

I am certain that there are moms out there who disagree with the things I do.  I have seen a few of them staring at me in Walmart from time to time.  Fortunately, I have developed a couple of skills over the years to protect my delicate mommy ego from such attacks.  The first is the “who do you think you are” look.  This has never failed me.  The second, though, is more important.  It is the knowledge that I’m doing what I believe is right for us, all the time.  I know that I won’t always do everything right, but I know that I will always do the best I can.  My kids are old enough now to know that, too.  As long as I hold onto that, there is no snooty mom acting out on her own insecurities who can tear me down.

There are as many different ways of raising our children as there are different kinds of kids.  There is no right way to do it.  All there is, is the right way for YOU.  Find your way and carry on.  Nothing anyone else says or does matters.  You do yourself a disservice if you allow it to matter.  And if you catch yourself behaving like a McJudgerson, stop it and ask yourself why.  Why do you care so much everyone else’s kids?  Wouldn’t your attention be better focused on your own parenting?  We would all do better to abide by the lessons we learned in grade school.  Mind your own beeswax.

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