Monday, November 14, 2011

Judging Moms

I just read an article on mothers judging other mothers.  I remember when I was a preschool teacher I saw a lot in my classroom that was judge-worthy but there were several incidents that taught me some very important lessons that I will never forget. 
I had a little girl in my class who was absolutely adorable.  She was dressed beautiful every day, she was smart as a whip, and so sweet to her peers.  There was only one thing I felt terrible about.  Every day she came to school and had a sandwich of nothing but white bread and fluff along with a jello.  I am a huge advocate of healthy eating and always fed my son whole grains and protein at every meal plus five fruits and vegetables a day.  It wasn’t hard so, in my mind, why wouldn’t a parent feed their kids healthy food unless they were lazy or indifferent?  It really bothered me that this poor child ate food that provided her with zero nutrition.  Years later I went to this child’s house for dinner with a mutual friend.  I ate before I left because I imagined the mother to be a horrible cook.  When I arrived I couldn’t believe my eyes.  She had a gourmet buffet full of mouthwatering foods.  I saw her daughter filling up on delicious and healthy foods.  Later we were talking about the struggles we’ve had parenting our children and she told us how she had to pack her daughter fluff sandwiches and jello because if she didn’t she would eat nothing at school.  She said she just made sure she ate very healthy breakfasts, snacks, and dinners.  Was this mom indifferent to her daughter’s nutritional needs as I had thought?  Absolutely not.  She was just a mom doing whatever it took to do the best she could for her family.  My son would eat anything I put in front of him so I always fed him healthy and could never understand the struggles that some parents go through who have picky eaters. 
I had another little girl who loved to read and had tons of healthy food every day but came to school in old hand me down boy’s clothes and was often dirty.  Her mother on the other hand, was dressed beautifully every single day with perfectly manicured nails and salon ready hair matched with perfectly pressed designer clothes.  I couldn’t understand how a mom could be so selfish as to dress her child so poorly while taking such good care of herself.  I laid out my son’s clothes everyday and he wore them.  It wasn’t hard so why didn’t she take the time unless she was lazy or indifferent?  One day I ran into the mom at a party and she confessed to me how embarrassed she was that her daughter was such a tomboy when she was younger.  She told me how she had to fight her daughter in order to dress her in perfect dresses and practically had to physically wrestle her into the bathtub in order to get her clean.  Finally she decided that she would rather let people judge her as a parent rather than abuse her daughter in order to make her look perfect to the outside world.  What this a mom who didn’t care if her daughter was clean or not?  Absolutely not.  She was just a mom doing whatever it took to do the best she could for her family.  (By the way, the daughter eventually grew out of this stage and is now a very clean, put together young lady).  My son didn’t care about clothes so how could I ever understand what some parents go through who have kids that are adamant about how they dress?
As moms we need to remember that we are all moms doing whatever it takes to do the very best we can for our families.  We all have struggles.  We are all great moms sometimes.  We are all bad moms sometimes.  THERE IS NOT ONE OF US WHO IS THE PERFECT PARENT!  The next time you find yourself judging another mom (or any other person for that matter) just remember, you don’t know her circumstances, you don’t know what she’s going through, and you don’t know how she is in other aspects and situations in her life.  Cut her some slack because the next time you have a bad mom moment maybe she’ll do the same for you.
Why did I judge these moms?  Because they are facing different struggle than my own.  My son eats anything and doesn’t care what he wears so those aspects of parenting are easy for me.  I face completely different issues such as the never ending battles over watching television and video games.  A parent could judge me and think I’m a horrible mother for allowing my son to watch too much television because their child turns it off without a fight whenever the parent asks.  I also had an issue with my son putting his hands on other kids and getting in their face when he was little.  I know other moms thought I was a terrible mom that couldn’t get my son to keep his hands off their kids.  What they didn’t know is that my son is legally blind so he gets up close and uses his hands to see better.  I have a friend now who feels awful because she admitted she judged me for that before she got to know me.  We’re the best of friends now because she understands my issues with my son are drastically different than the ones she’s going through with hers.
These are just a few examples of situations that look a certain way and on closer inspection turned out to be totally different.  I think whenever we judge another person we should remember that we are only seeing a moment in their lives.  It’s not who they are it’s a single clip of their life.  You may see a mom yelling at her small children.  Maybe that’s the only time she ever yelled at them and she usually cuddle with them, reads them stories, never lets them watch television, and feeds them only organic foods.  Should she be labeled a “bad mom” because she had a moment where she wasn’t perfect? 

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At November 14, 2011 at 1:03 PM , Anonymous Carmen Van Deursen said...

So well put. This was a great read. Thank you.

At November 17, 2011 at 10:07 PM , Anonymous liberalmama said...

Good reminder. I try hard to remember that you never know the whole story and that most parents are trying their best to do the right thing. We all mess up from time to time, or have to "get through" certain stages where our children may not want to bathe, have their hair combed, eat healthy foods etc. I guess the only time I have a really hard time NOT judging is when I'm around parents who yell a lot or spank. It's upsetting to my daughter and really ruins the whole play environment when parents do this (or put their kids in "time outs" and let them scream while other kids are trying to play), so... just wondering since I struggle with this -- do you think it's ok to tell another parent that I don't appreciate their behavior? Or is that "judging" too?

At November 29, 2011 at 7:28 PM , Blogger lalei said...

Hi Tracy,
This is a really good read, very well written. It's reassuring actually - making me feel better about how I am raising my child. I can relate to the struggles that you mentioned in dressing up and eating. Good to have stumbled upon your blog while I'm googling for Green Eggs and Ham activities. I'll be a frequent visitor from now on.


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