Don’t judge me

Last night, I asked my #PPDChat Mamas to chime in with suggestions for today’s chat. To the left is a suggestion I received this morning from Amber over at Beyond Postpartum. It got my wheels turning. Judgment, to me, is such a dirty dirty word. The following post is what spilled out as I thought more and more about her suggestion. Read. Share. Comment. Love one another, mamas. And daddies. Love. Don’t hate. Don’t judge. Love. It’s why we’re here.

Why do we judge one another, mamas?

Why?

Aren’t we all in this together?

Don’t we all have the same job when it comes down to it?

Do you know why that mama is giving a bottle?

Do you know why she’s chosen not to co-sleep?

Did you ask? Did you ask if she’s doing okay? Or did you glare? Did you judge? Did you sit on your throne and think better of yourself because you nurse your toddler, have your infant strapped to you 24/7, and only shop in the organic section of the grocery store never stepping foot in the formula or diaper aisle?

Shame on you. Shame on you for judging. For not stopping to ask if this mama is okay. If everything in her world is still right side up. Shame on you for tossing guilt onto her already full pile.

We are all parents. Most of us fight the same battles every day. A child who whines when it’s time to sleep. An infant who screams for hours on end because of digestive issues. A house in which laundry and dishes get laid and multiply more often than we do. We fight through this day in and day out through a fog of exhaustion. We make lifestyle choices based on what we can handle… based on what is best for our families.

Just because my infant isn’t super-glued to my boob doesn’t mean I’m less of a mother.

Just because my toddler stopped nursing before 2 doesn’t mean I love her any less. It doesn’t mean she loves me any less.

Two of my kids have had formula. I feared judgment. But I shouldn’t have been forced to worry about that. I fed my children. They thrived. I thrived. We all thrived. The end. The in between doesn’t matter.

My kids eat non-organic bananas too, by the way. And watch TV. Yes, they LOVE chocolate. And candy. And have eaten at McDonald’s.

I’ve ordered pizza because I didn’t want to cook. Popped open Chef Boyardee for the same reason.

Thank GOD.

Because frankly?

I’m not the kind of mom who can throw myself under the bus on purpose.

No, I’m the kind of mom who’s accidentally stepped in FRONT of the bus and been run over a couple of times.

There’s no full body cast for me but my brain’s a bit loopy still so excuse me if I’m not the Stepford parent I’m supposed to be at the moment. Excuse me if I look a bit more like Roseanne instead of June Cleaver. You see, I’ve been run over by Postpartum Mood Disorders and need to take care of myself in addition to my children because if I don’t, it can get fatal. Seriously. FATAL. As in I might lose my life FATAL. So excuse me while I indulge my child in some Enfamil and pop culture in order to maintain my sanity.

It’s OKAY.

My kids know they’re loved. They’re thriving. They’re using three and four syllable words by the time they hit three.

More importantly?

They already understand mental illness. They know it’s not anyone’s fault. That it just happens. And that it’s okay. Sure, right now they think tickling is an appropriate therapy (it really was in our house, by the way). My kids don’t jump to conclusions. They show compassion. They help. They offer support when someone is sad. They are empathic. They already know the importance of self-care. Our oldest is seven.

The next time you jump to conclusions about another parent in public, remember your children. They are watching you. They are learning from you. Before you even inhale sharply and bite that bottom lip because some mom whips out a bottle to feed her newborn, ask yourself why you’re judging. Ask yourself if it’s your place to judge. Instead of inhaling and glaring, go say hi. Ask that mom how she’s doing. Refrain from judging. Understand we’re all struggling on the same road but need different tools for our own journey.

If we could just show a bit more compassion to each other, the world would be a much better place. Don’t you want to be a part of that world? I know I do.

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0 thoughts on “Don’t judge me

  1. beingmade

    I super double triple love this post. I feel like I’ve been run over by the bus a few times too, between PPD, grief, deployments, and serious health concerns… And like you, my kids are doing ok.

    Now, my only question is… How do I stop judging myself??

    1. Lauren Hale

      “How do I stop judging myself?”

      Wow. What a great question… I think the way to do that is to examine why you’re judging yourself – is it self-criticism or based on criticism received from others? Then work on dissipating the reasons you’re judging yourself slowly… positive talk, permission to not be perfect all the time, to be sad, angry, etc. Emotions aren’t the enemy – I think all too often we’re expected to be Vulcan in our daily lives – no emotion. Flat. Lifeless. Positive emotion is okay but anything negative is so not right. Thing is, even negative emotions have their place in life. They can provide motivation and inspiration for change. They can show us things about ourselves or others we may not like. But we learn and move on.

      I’ve been thinking about this one since last night and other than the above, really don’t have much more to say – it’s a tough thing to stop judging oneself. Very tough.

  2. almostsinglemom

    Screw them. Really. We have the same goals we want healthy happy kids and healthy happy moms. We do what we can. Can we do better? You bet. But so can everyone. The best thing we can do for each other is to help.

  3. Ozcanbyrnes

    THANK YOU! I love that women stand up for their rights and tweet about breastfeeding and why it’s best. But… Oh the guilt it causes. Every time I meet someone I feel like I HAVE to explain why I don’t so that I am not judged. We should be loved and supported regardless of what we do or why we do it.

  4. Audra B

    Fabulous! I struggled with PPD/anxiety with my first. My milk all but dried up because of thyroid problems. I got glares no matter HOW I fed my child, breast, bottle with breastmilk, bottle with formula. I felt like I could do NOTHING right. As I am pregnant with my third, I am all about ending the judgement and ending the mommy wars. Even though I am a big breastfeeding supporter (it was my lifeline through the ppd struggle), I understand the flipside. I know we are all moms doing what is best for our families. I even launched a formula feeding support page to my blog to help moms see both sides. Thank you for this post!

    1. Lauren Hale

      Good for you launching a formula feeding support page at your blog! That’s awesome! Moms, ALL moms, need to feel supported in their motherhood journey.

      I too, am a huge breastfeeding supporter – my first nursed until she was 16 months old when she weaned herself – she exclusively nursed for 9 months. Breastfeeding was what you do for me. When it didn’t work the second time (our second daughter was born with a cleft palate and physically couldn’t nurse), I was filled with guilt. I was angry at our daughter for not being able to nurse. Thing is – it was beyond my control. And I shouldn’t have been filled with guilt. I adjusted, exclusively pumped for her for 7 months and had to give it up because my mental health & relationship with the rest of my family suffered as a result. I will always ALWAYS choose formula over breastfeeding if my mental health is at risk because of it.

      Thank you for reading & commenting! :-)

  5. learnedhappiness

    I think a huge cause for moms judging other moms is insecurity. Parenting is hard. It’s scary. And moms find some comfort and confidence in the idea that they are doing it “right” and therefore other moms are wrong. The truth is that each family is different. Every child is different. There is no “right” way to parent/mother a child. And judging someone whose story you don’t even know? Just plain ignorant. I think Katherine Stone posted on If Mama Ain’t Happy a while ago about parenting “methods” and how they are all just ridiculous. Struck a similar chord with me.

  6. Jaime

    It’s funny, a little, but I feel judged because I breastfeed! I’m definitely in the minority in my area, in my family, among my friends, and so on. I feel as if I constantly have to defend nursing, let alone nursing a toddler who’s about to turn 2. The questions “when are you weaning?” and “are you STILL doing that?” drive me insane & instantly put me on the defensive. I wish we’d all stop judging each other’s parenting choices and ourselves. It’s such a vicious circle of guilt, blame, judgment, rinse, repeat. It sucks.

    I feel bad now that I am one of those women who always tweets and blogs about breastfeeding. I hope I haven’t offended anyone. But the reason I’m always advocating for breastfeeding has a lot to do with the fact that people judge me for it, think it’s weird and unnatural to nurse a child past the newborn phase. I’m just trying to educate. And I try to say on my blog that I don’t care whether you feed your baby breastmilk or formula as long as YOU’RE FEEDING THE BABY. PERIOD.

    I think we all have a lot of work to do in the nonjudgmental department. Thanks, Lauren, for blogging about this.

    1. Lauren Hale

      “I don’t care whether you feed your baby breastmilk or formula as long as YOU’RE FEEDING THE BABY. PERIOD.”

      AMEN, Jaime. My point exactly. It doesn’t matter what baby is fed as long as the baby IS fed. I exclusively nursed my first daughter for 9 months. Tried to introduce solid foods at 6 months but she wasn’t interested which was fine with me. At 9 months however, I felt pressured to start solids. So I did. She was okay with it at that point, thankfully. Some of our decisions are for us, some of them are baby led, and others are because we allow ourselves to give into the pressure of family and those around us who mean well but aren’t living our day to day life. What’s that saying? Mother knows best? She does know best – for her own family. If she needs advice, she’ll ask for it. Nothing annoys me more than people who think just because someone is a parent they need guidance or correction. I’m an adult. Respect me as such. It’s not a lot to ask, yanno?

  7. Adrienne

    It gets better as the kids get older, I promise.

    Oh, there’s still the judgmental crap. Whose kids are star students, athletes, whatever, and whose kids are (gasp!) ordinary and whose kids are (tsk tsk) having problems, but still, it becomes less.

    But always always always, judgment is a bad thing. We all get to choose what works for our own families and people who stick their noses in the air are in danger of a bird pooping on their faces.

  8. Natalie Nevares

    I love love LOVE this post. There’s nothing that upsets me up more than judgement amongst moms. My early feminist feathers get all aflutter when I see this and I have devoted my life and my writing to SUPPORT new moms, and help escort them without judgement, through these early trials and tribulations of new parenthood. The first thing I try to tell new moms is #1, You haven’t made any mistakes, #2, try to forget everything you’ve read or heard about what you SHOULD DO, and then give yourself permission to do what feels right for you (with breastfeeding or bottle feeding, sleep, strollers or slings), and #3, give yourself permission to put yourself on the top of your priority list, and take care of YOU, which seems counter-intuitive to a new mom in the parenting culture in which we live. I learned all this the hard way and am so passionate about sharing this with new moms, especially when they’re really struggling in the early days and months, sometimes YEARS!! Thanks for being a pillar of support for new moms. I love it!

  9. Charity

    Hmmm, my comment disappeared.

    I am learning a lot through this postpartum walk about why mamas do and don’t do things.

    But I will agree with others who have felt judgement for nursing.

    I also cloth diaper. Believe it or not, those two facts are two of the few things that have kept me sane this go around with the postpartum issues. They were the things I could look at and say, I am doing that, when I felt like I could do nothing else…

    For me they helped, if for others, it helps, to make other choices, for whatever reason, then do so. It is most important for us to be healthy.

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  11. Atlantamom

    Thanks, Lauren. I really appreciate you writing about this and also the comments that it elicited.

    I wrote this before I had my second child:
    http://www.beyondpostpartumblog.com/2011/03/why-do-some-moms-care-so-much-how-other.html
    but I really needed someone else to remind me that I am a good mom no matter if BFing worked out or not, as just one example of the things that other moms feel they have a right to have opinions about regarding my kids.

    Being a Survivor Mama and being so new at parenting two kids and still in that tenuous early postpartum period I am well aware of my vulnerability, so I reach out for support where I know I will find it. Thanks to you all for letting it be here.

    1. Lauren Hale

      ((hugs)) I love our online community and the true support it brings to all of us. It’s absolutely amazing. I’m so thrilled this post has helped you feel supported…. support is what we all should offer each other – judgment is such a dirty word. We should lift one another up instead of tearing each other down. Always. Love you bunches.

  12. Lexi

    Love this post…I have been so very sensitive of judgment and criticism especially from my or hubby’s family. I always felt like i had to explain myself, when really why the hell did they feel they could ask such rude and personal questions about me and my child. EG, are you still breastfeeding? When are you weaning? that is selfish, i would like to feed the baby too, get me a bottle. You are spoiling that child, stop picking her up when she cries, you don’t need to hold her all the time, she is going to be a spoilt brat. When is she going to stop using diapers, are you still potty training, why why why…I wish I could say “Mind your own effing business or have your own kids, these are MINE!”
    You rock Lauren! :)

    1. Lauren Hale

      I got the “She’s nursing AGAIN?!?” whenever we visited family. I just grinned and said, yep. She is. It bothered me but I also had to understand breastfeeding wasn’t the norm in that side of the family. It’s hard to understand that which we are not familiar with. I was so thankful for my mom in those early days b/c she was a SAHM who nursed all of us until we were nearly 2. If not for her… wow. I can’t even begin to imagine how much harder things would have been.

      I really wish I understood what it is about kids which makes people feel entitled to share their opinions on how we should be doing things. If I want your input, I’ll solicit it. Until then.. Ssshhhh. I’ve got this. ;-)

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