To Judge or Not to Judge: That is the Question

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I recently read a blog entry in which the author defended her right to be a “judgy” mom. The blogger declared she was exasperated by the movement towards ending "mommy wars" because she does not want to pretend to support other women. According to her viewpoint, the parenting practices she uses are ones that she believes are right. She does not want to support choices different than her own.

After reading that blog (and promptly closing that tab in my browser), I felt ignited. After all, I am a #Mother local leader, #Mother blog contributor, and proud signer of the Mother Manifesto. When I first discovered #Mother, I had already chosen my stance on the type of mother and woman I wanted to be: loving, accepting, and supporting. It was as natural to me as breathing to become a part of the #Mother community. I could not understand the idea of fostering judgment over respect.

A few weeks after encountering that blog, a girlfriend and I had a brief conversation about the difficulty of maintaining friendships as women. She has had a rough year in her professional and personal life. Rather than rallying around her, some of the people in her social circle have abandoned her, even going so far as to insult her in this challenging period of her life. After hearing about this from her, I contemplated this theme of judgment that I seem to encounter so frequently.

Thought after thought swirled through my head of moms, parents, women, etc. who have likely suffered the effects of judgment. Passengers who bring crying babies and "loud" young children on planes. Moms who breastfeed in public. Proud parents who post numerous pictures of their children on social media. Same sex couples who choose to marry (and/or raise children). And, unfortunately, numerous other examples that I could list endlessly.

After feeling nearly dizzy from these thoughts, I realized that the topic of differences (and the judgment of or respect for them) is an age-old one as well as an incredibly timely one. All it takes is a brief look around our own communities to recognize this. For example, the movie 'Bad Moms' is a sign of the times and the mothering culture surrounding us. The film touches on the unattainable demands that are placed on moms as well as the mean mom cliques that add more pressure to seek mothering perfection. This movie strikes us as funny because so many of us moms recognize these ridiculous struggles in our own daily lives.

 

I have been the mom standing at the elementary school's student pick-up area, eyeing up the other moms and hoping a group of them would fold me into their circle. The mom feeling inadequate when comparing my daughter's school project to the fancy one of another child. And, the mom trying to manage my daughter's very public toddler tantrums, all the while fearing what strangers around me were thinking.

I know you have, too.

Joining the #Mother movement and affirming the Mother Manifesto has become a key decision for me. As humans, I am not sure we can avoid forming judgments. However, as a member of a larger mom community, I believe it is critical to prevent these judgments from coloring my view of other women and, especially, from impacting others' lives negatively. So when I find myself feeling judgy, I remember the manifesto and why it is important to me.

Contributing to ending "mommy wars" is important because we all need each other. All of us are out there winging it, taking a trial and error approach to parenting, and doing our best. The saying, “It takes a village to raise a child,” is one of the most true ones I know. Raising children in isolation is unpleasant and lonely at best and pretty much impossible at worst.

Since becoming a local leader for #Mother in my own community, I have truly grasped the importance of acceptance within a mom tribe. Scrutiny abounds; we will encounter it frequently. As a result, moms need a safe place. Moms need other moms, who are right there in the trenches with them, lifting up their spirits and encouraging them through the good and bad moments of motherhood. Moms need other moms who understand that parenting decisions are made based on what works for us and our children at any given moment.

 

To the mommy blogger I mentioned previously and to all moms: What I do may not be right or effective for you. However, please do not judge me for my choices that differ from yours. Instead, open your heart, give me a bit of grace, and put our differences aside. Let's celebrate our commonalities!

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