I grew up in a family where judging others wasn’t just a fun pastime, but a moral obligation. As a result I grew up judgy and insecure knowing judgment was waiting for me too. Raised with a superiority complex, I spent my early-20s shaking it off, until I felt pretty fair and even with how I judged people’s behaviour — except other moms. I found myself tutting at kids freaking out in supermarkets, and disgusted by the mom who brought her kid to the daycare where I worked with a Happy Meal for lunch. Oh, how I would do it better when I was a mom, right?
Thing is, now I have three kids. I look back on things I judged moms poorly for and think, “Shucks, they were doing fine.” Parenting is so incredibly hard — I feel like a failure at least once a day. But I know if other women saw me in my finest hours — when I’ve dropped an f-bomb after my five year old has driven me to the end of my sanity, or when I succumb to those Happy Meals because — dammit — they’ll eat them and I didn’t pack enough snacks to get us through the ballet and swimming lesson run — they’d probably judge me too.
I read a quote this week that said something like, “We judge others by their actions, ourselves by our intentions.” Profound.
What we need is compassion and understanding — for ourselves and others, so we can start making other moms lives a little easier instead of adding unnecessary stress. Then maybe when we’re having a crap time of it, the response might be kind instead of one that makes us feel worse.
So, how do we resist the urge to pass judgement on other moms? I believe it starts by putting yourself in the others’ shoes. If we consider what they might be dealing with — raising kids solo, depression, anxiety, lack of social support, lack of education, even just an incredibly crappy day — before jumping to conclusions, it might be easier to be kind. At 41, I’ve finally learned to check my privilege. I realize not all moms had the breaks I’ve had that led me to the life I have today.
What if we acted with kindness when we saw another mom having a hard time? As we all know, a kind word — or smile — from another mother when your toddler is melting down in the grocery store can make all the difference. A simple phrase, like “Do you need a hand?” can change how we’re feeling about our kids’ crappy behaviour, and our day. Helping that toddler get his coat on, or holding her baby while she tends to a scraped knee are small acts but they can mean so much.
The reality is that as parents we all make mistakes Whether we do it in public or private is just the luck of the draw, and those glimpses we get of another mom struggling is rarely the full story. And just because someone does things differently than we would doesn’t make them a bad parent.
I’m not saying everything a mom may do is okay — I’ll still shoot you a dirty look if you light up on the playground — but we need to be kinder to one another. The world is a really harsh place right now, and I think we need to show our kids that being kind is where it’s at. How about you?
Lola Augustine Brown is managing editor of the Whole Family Happiness Project, and lives in rural Nova Scotia with her husband, three kids, two dogs, and a flock of chickens.
Did you like this post? Leave some claps or a comment to let us know!
The Whole Family Happiness Project is a group of moms exploring our connection to our individual purpose, our family happiness, and the happiness of the world around us. Come join us on Facebook.