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I'm not a judgy mom...anymore

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I’ve been a judgy mom. There, I said it. But haven’t we all?

(If you can’t admit to judging other moms, kudos…but this article isn’t for you.)

There is no rulebook for how to be a mom. If there were, it would be easy, right? Well, easier, at least. Sure, we have ideas on how we will parent and what kind of mother we will be going into it.

In fact, before my three annoying children, I once created three rules that I assured myself I would follow as a mother:

  1. I won’t cuss in front of my kids.
  2. I won’t yell at my kids.
  3. I won’t drink in front of my kids.

It is worth noting all three of these rules were broken within my first 72 hours of motherhood. The moment we got home from the hospital, I set the baby carrier on the counter, poured myself a glass of wine, looked at my husband and said, “Well shit, what do we do now?”

As moms, we truly have no idea what we’re doing when that tiny little miracle comes into our world and turns it upside down. We don’t know how to swaddle them right or how often to feed them or if we’re spoiling them by waking up with them every time they make the faintest of noises. As they get older, we don’t know how much screen time is too much or if they should get dessert after dinner even if they didn’t finish their entire meal or if they are scarred because we accidentally grabbed their arm a little too tight. And, eventually, we stay awake at night wondering if we are raising psychopaths or if they really do hate us or if our dream of a happy family is tarnished forever.

The thing is, we just don’t know. No mom really does. And so we make up the rules as we go along. And, thankfully, we learn from other moms. These moms become our tribe, our village, our saviors in our darkest hours. These women who have come before us – or better yet – are enduring it with us teach us that it’s okay to cry, it’s okay to need a break and it’s okay to hate your husband. In fact, as some point, most moms do. (Can he really not hear the baby crying!? I need to know.)

Inevitably though, as much as we should identify with one another, band together and support each other, the judgy mom in me (and all of us) comes out at one point or another. I am not proud to say it but I have been a judgy mom.

I’ve judged another moms for letting her kids stay up past 10PM. For packing her kids lunches with exclusively processed foods. For working her butt off for a law degree then quickly trading it in for the title of “stay-at-home mom.” For buying a Louis Vuitton diaper bag that will inevitably be covered in shit. For giving her six year old a cell phone. For letting her kids play Fortnite! For being gluten, dairy, nut, and sugar free. Oh and vegan except for salmon (farm raised only, of course). I could go on, but you’d hate me.

But what I have come to learn is that I am judging those mothers based on my rules, not theirs. The things I am judging them on are not the rules of motherhood because there are no rules. It is worth repeating. There are no rules to motherhood. I am judging them merely on the rules I pieced together for myself out of a need for some sense of control in this chaotic world I created.

I have also felt the excruciating judgment from other moms. For being a full-time working mom (and loving it!). For not breastfeeding my babies, instead opting to use formula {gasp!}. For simply not having enough time (or perhaps care) to be the room mom. For yelling at my children far more often than I care to admit. For using the television as a babysitter. For being a cursy mom. I could go on for days.

I’ll be the first to admit, I’ve broken a lot (and I mean a lot) of rules I once thought were crucial to my kid’s upbringing. I had to - for survival - and what I’ve learned is that we are probably all a little better off when we break our own rules. In fact, sometimes it is fun to break the rules I created. It turns out, those hard and fast rules that I once vowed to live by…well, they were as soft as my mom belly is now.

I found that when I let my kids stay up late - because I am too exhausted to fight them on bedtime - it means catching fireflies in the backyard and eating more s’mores by the fire pit. When I let my sons get lost in their iPads for an hour (or five), it means I get a little sanity leaving me more energized when they are. When I cave and finally buy the kids Nerf guns, I learn that maybe they are just a part of boyhood and that family Nerf battles are pretty much the best. When I feed them cinnamon rolls with icing and sprinkles for breakfast as a way to celebrate making it to Wednesday, they feel a sense of accomplishment, too. And in a small way, maybe that is more important than the number of calories or milligrams of sugar they consumed that day.

We make rules for our sanity. And we break them for the exact same reason. Each mom does it differently because we do what works for us. We do what works for our kids and our spouses. So whether you need to put your kids to bed at 7PM so you can pour yourself a bottle of wine or if you need to let them stay up until the last embers of the fire pit burns, that’s okay. We’re all learning as we go and the last thing we need is to feel the judgment of other women who know how hard motherhood can be.

Don’t be a judgy mom. Not now, not ever. We’re all doing the best we can.

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