I was recently prompted by Today’s Parenting Team to write an article about moms judging moms. This is a topic that irks me to no end and there are as many stories as there are moms. Thankfully I have over the years learned to shut my ears to negative judgmental chatter, only to focus on the positive and uplifting motherhood relationships. But then something happened this weekend that forced me to write. Now I am judging women who judge moms!
Perhaps I am judging as I write this, so forgive me in advance. I may not always be 100% politically correct, or even sensitive in my choice of words and for that I am sorry. With that said, please let me set the scene for you…
The background story:
I am at the mall with our three year old. Somehow I managed to escape the house with only one child in tow, but he is our fire cracker, the unpredictable one, so in all actuality my husband drew the longer straw in this deal. Jansen and I are enjoying our time together when he points to a store that he wants to check out. This is a national chain, a high-end store that focuses on children’s items.
Jansen and I enter the store with all the fun items for him to interact with and to touch. No really, they DO have things for the kids to play with, I swear I am not the only parent who uses this store as a quick shopping break.
Two female employees are relaxing at the cash register when we walk by completely unnoticed. I overhear their conversation, and in anticipation of their acknowledgement of our presence, I consider jumping with a comment. But shockingly enough, they don’t greet us, as they normally do. To my disappointment I realize that their discussion is serious and not in jest as I first thought.
One woman is older, she later mentioned that her kids are now grown adults. The other woman is pregnant with her first child. I am desperately trying NOT to eavesdrop, but they are not keeping their voices low. I have to assume that they feel rather comfortable and confident about their conversation.
Then it happens:
Ok - so now the stage has been set, I am sure you can picture the scenario… A toddler has a meltdown right outside the store in the common area of the mall. The child’s scream is heard loud and clear, reverberating through the store. The older woman turns to her pregnant coworker and says “So… are you ready for THAT?” The pregnant woman chuckles and says “Oh no! My child will NEVER act like that, ESPECIALLY not in public. I will NOT put up with it!”
At this point, I have just walked by them. I ALMOST turn around and blurt: “Oh honey, you will be eating those words in about 22 months!” - but I keep my mouth shut, because… no one likes a judging mom - so instead I smile to myself.
Now the older woman echoes the pregnant one’s disillusion with her own ill-recollection of the past. “Yeah, NONE of my kids EVER whined, NEVER! They ALWAYS knew to ask for things calmly and politely. It was the only way I would listen to them and they knew it!”
Here I am standing, in their fancy-schmancy store with a toddler who at the present time APPEARS to be sweet, gentle and every bit of compliant. But I know the potential of this kid. He is a short-fused little pile of explosives. I have to get him to leave the coveted toys and walk past the two perfect women representing motherhood-past and motherhood-future without him as much as disagreeing, otherwise I will become the next victim of their Judge Judy episode: “live from the cash register”.
I will end the story by telling you that the two women continued to bash toddlers, mothers and their apparent lack of parenting… while I (by the grace of God) managed to get my kid out of there with my motherhood intact and unscathed.
Judging women who judge:
There you have it. Standing before me, judging an unknown parent based on a toddler’s emotional outburst are two women who feel superior, and for what reason?
As a mother, I can ignore and shake off judging looks and comments from women who are my “equal.” I simply don’t take it to heart when another mother with young children questions my parenting, because we are both just doing what we believe is best for our children at that particular moment. Not everyone is going to agree with our parenting style, and I am just fine with that.
All in all, I feel that other mothers with young/ younger/ youngish children are like foot soldiers on the front line with me. We stand neck to neck, sharing tight space in the trenches of motherhood. THOSE are the women I find to be mostly supportive, encouraging and empowering. We are living the same lives right here and right now. Although the finer details of our day may differ, we are still just trying to get to bedtime with our sanities intact.
However, comments like the ones I overheard this weekend, from people not currently treading the parenting waters are hurtful and honestly cause much more harm than good. The “been there, done that” mom is actually setting her coworker, the “have yet to be there and do that” mom, up to fail. This poor new mom-to-be is entering into motherhood thinking that she will be able to “control” her toddler and his meltdowns. (HA! Good luck with that!)
I find that some (NOT ALL) women who have “successfully” raised their own children forget the gory details. All of a sudden they are the champions of motherhood simply because their children never teethed, got sick, had trouble in school, disrespected or melted down. Their adult children are every bit as perfect today as they were back then.
And then there are the women who haven’t yet looked into the eyes of their newborn child. To those women I say “come see me when you need a supportive, non-judgmental friend after your toddler has had back to back meltdowns in the grocery store and in the mall” - I will be waiting right over here!
I didn't speak up, I missed my small window of opportunity to say something to these women. Would you have said something?