I have recently come to a realization while attending our weekly toddler group.
There are several different moms with their young children.
And tell me if this is not typical, but the ones who usually stand out the most are the moms with children with the most difficult behaviors. They are the loudest, hard to handle and one cannot escape but notice.
Of course, we have one such mom with a little girl in our group.
But during our last session, something more important struck me.
The mom is the most friendly, welcoming and understanding of all of us.
How can this be?
It would be so easy to assume how she doesn’t know what she is doing, how she needs to do this or that with her daughter and that overall her parenting sucks.
But that would be extremely unfair and superficial.
Yes, maybe she is struggling at the moment, but what mom isn’t at times?
More importantly, if I allow myself to simply focus on her shortcomings, I would totally miss the amazing side of her.
I would fail to see that out of all the moms, she understands the most when my toddler is having a hard time. She knows what it feels like to be judged and as a consequence, she lets me have a free pass. She doesn’t shy away from starting a conversation with a complete stranger, something not all of us are capable of.
Because she is more than just a mom.
She is a human being, with strengths and weaknesses, passions and dreams just like the rest of us.
Someone out there is incredibly lucky to have her as a sister, a friend, a wife, a daughter or a co-worker.
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We all are more than just mothers
Now don’t get me wrong.
Being a mom is one of the most incredible roles that a woman can ever have.
But we are also many other things.
Some of us forget about this very early into our motherhood.
We lose ourselves completely in our new role and expect every other mom to do the same.
Every night I watch my neighbor pull her car up to the driveway. It is the only time I see a glimpse of her during the week. She is a nurse and leaves for work even before we have our breakfast. At six in the evening, when our family sits down to have a nice meal together, she is only getting home. After a long day at work, her work is far from done. After taking care of patients all day, she comes home to take care of the ones she loves the most.
Not only is she a mom, she is also a caring nurse and a good neighbor that reminds me every day, that choosing a different path than my own doesn’t make it wrong.
So often we fail to look beyond the mother identity and see other great accomplishments. We fail to see the courageous hearts, creative minds, supportive sisters, funny friends, hard working women, devoted wives and rather choose to dwell on parenting decisions that really are none of our business at all.
Why do moms judge other moms?
More than ever before, the world is obsessed with finding the perfect parenting method. We look at every mistake, every little thing we and others do and tear it to pieces.
I believe that most of us, moms, do the best we can at the given time and place. But we often falsely believe that it is the “universal best” that everybody should do too.
Imagine this perfect world where all the babies would be exclusively breastfed, only fed organic homemade food, used only cloth diapers, staying at home with moms, not vaccinated, and yet, they still wouldn’t turn out the same.
Some of them would be smarter than others, healthier than others, some would become criminals while others graduate an Ivy League school.
Because there are many other factors that play a role in one’s development than these few conditions we so over-exaggerate these days.
So instead of wasting so much of our precious time and energy on pondering what others are doing wrong, let’s re-focus on us.
Let’s concentrate on our own personal growth and on becoming better parents ourselves.
See their hearts, not their parenting
I had been incredibly lucky to have a friend during my twin pregnancy who was willing to help me without a hesitation every single time I asked. She has a sweet personality, beautiful smile, contagious laughter and a very generous spirit.
She also lets her two-year-old drink Coke, feeds him mostly processed foods and allows way too much screen time to my taste.
And I will be honest with you, I judged her for that in the past. I willingly forgot about all the good things she had done for me. All the support and generosity she blessed me with.
But I learned my lesson. I came to understand that all of us moms and dads can do some things better than others.
Our parenting doesn’t define who we are at our core, in our souls.
One mom can be a great cook, while another sings beautifully every Sunday at church. One mom sacrifices her time taking care of her sick parents and yet another one works two jobs to support her family. Every mom is more than just a mom.
We all have so many sides of us, that defining and judging each other by the most vulnerable one of all, our parenting, just doesn’t make sense.
Judging moms commercial from Similac
If you haven’t seen it, make sure to do so right now.
We all have strong beliefs about one thing or another.
But beliefs are just that, beliefs.
Some might be supported by science, pseudoscience, and yet others have been shaped throughout the years by our circumstances.
We need to remember that we cannot turn everybody into our likeness. We can share our thoughts and ideas respectfully, but the choice is ultimately theirs.
Instead, we can choose to stop judging other moms, open our hearts and see that we all love our children and we are all trying our best. Even if my best is not the best for your family.
Everybody is capable of doing so.
If we see and treat other parents with kindness in heart, we can’t go wrong.
When we decide to invest our time into listening to others and getting to actually know them, we might be surprised what we find under the surface.
Because we all are more than just parents.