The air outside is cold, but my coffee and house are warm. My body is still as I sit comfortably in last night’s pajamas. My mind, less settled, is turning corners quickly, as I am reflecting on something scarier than ghosts and goblins this Halloween: Mothers judging other mothers. (Cue the scary music.)
More than a decade ago, my friend was expecting her first baby. During one of our daily chats, she asked me, her veteran-mom-friend, “What is the hardest thing about parenting?” I offered no pause or filter as I responded, “Not giving a crap about what other people think of your parenting.” I then educated her on the unspoken epidemic in mommy groups: Judgement.
Bottle or breast, bedtimes, time-outs, work or stay-at-home, nutrition, spouses, car and school choices. You name a topic and we have judged or been judged on it. Like cackling witches casting spells on frogs, mothers cast a quieter judgement upon each other. We pass out intolerance like it’s fun-sized Snickers bars on Halloween.
We look outward because it’s easier than reflecting inward. We unveil other’s flaws as a diversion to someone revealing our own. Your neighbors’ new car that you have decided they can’t afford is easier to discuss than your own finances. Speculating on your friend’s divorce may give you a sense of superiority, because, after all, you are still wearing your wedding bands. At times, mothers seem to hold onto harsh critiques of other moms like a warm blanket, protecting them from their own critical thoughts of themselves.
(Cue the imaginary pulpit and Sunday sermon voice.) This epidemic does not target one social class, culture, ethnicity, or age group. We are all both guilty parties and victims.
My name is Carrie, and I too have judged!
Let us stand together and practice being women and mothers who offer compassion and tolerance. Let us remember that life is sometimes messy, complicated, and hard. Let us consider the unknown, heavy, and moving parts of mothers’ lives. Let us give each other the benefit of the doubt that we are all doing the best that we can. Let us call to mind that life would be boring if we were all the same. Let us celebrate our differences. Let us reach out rather than lash out when we feel less than confident within ourselves. Let us offer a hand, prayer, kind word, or empathy, rather than an opinion. Let us behave as women with grace. Let us teach our children tolerance and acceptance through example.
I leave you mommas as I start my day knowing that we are all screwing up in our own ways, but damn if we aren’t trying our best! Even if tomorrow morning begins with stolen Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Facebook for a minute too long, it’s our best!