I read an excellent post this morning by Growing Up Geeky who admitted that when she was a new mom, she judged other parents.

It made me think back to my new-mom days, and I realized something about myself. While I always tried very hard not to judge other mothers,* I usually assumed they were judging me.

I also realized? I no longer care whether they are judging or not.

I tend to fall on the non-crunchy side of the parenting spectrum while a majority of my friends – and practically every blogger I read – tend to fall to the other side. Add to that the stress that comes with being a new parent, and I felt different, insecure and defensive.

I usually assumed that when another mom found out Ryan was exclusively formula fed from the time he was 10 days old, she judged me for not trying hard enough to breastfeed. If she learned I let my four-month-old cry-it-out to fall asleep, I was sure she thought I was a little bit heartless or disconnected from him. When she discovered I used – and adore – disposable diapers, she wondered why I didn’t put the time and energy into diapering the right way because that’s what best for him.

I’m not sure how much I was actually being judged. At least some, probably. But I can see now that a lot of those assumptions were my own insecurities eating away at me. Mom guilt at its finest.

These days, I defend myself much less than I used to. Instead of recounting the three awful days I experienced as a cloth-diapering parent, I simply say “we use disposables.” Instead of explaining, in detail, why breastfeeding didn’t work for us, I figure it’s nobody’s business.

If someone is genuinely curious why we allowed our son to cry-it-out and whether it was effective, I’m happy to answer questions. But I don’t try to explain myself anymore. I don’t try to convince anyone that I made right choice.

Maybe the difference is that back then, I was desperate to be a good mom. Now, I know that I am. I won’t claim to be a great mom, but I know I’m a good one. I know that even if I don’t always make perfect choices, I love the heck out of my kid and I am doing the best I can.

reading

Besides, the first kid is just practice, right?

 

Footnote

*I’m not claiming that I never, ever judge people. I’m hardly a saint. Parenting just happens to be a topic that I’m pretty live-and-let-live about — unlike laziness, the way people conduct themselves in a professional setting, and the way people drive. I judge those things like crazy.

6 Responses to I was a defensive parent.

  1. Kami says:

    I hear you 100%! Lincoln was formula fed from day one, and I always felt the need to explain myself. Now? I really don’t care what other people think! It’s a great feeling :)

  2. Valli says:

    I was a defensive mom, too. When I had E three years ago, I didn’t know anybody who was making the same choices I was (nursing on demand and bedsharing were anathema with my friends). I have a nice collection of not-very-nice things people said to me when I let my guard down. I think it taught me to be more open-minded, though–I don’t want to put another mother in that defensive position I was in. Besides, by the time you have a 3-year-old, you don’t even think about that stuff. “Hey, remember the time that lady was scandalized that we kicked our dog out of our bed so our baby could sleep with us?” just becomes a funny story instead of a reason to feel judged.

    Cheers to feeling confident in our choices and finding kinship with moms who do things differently.

    • I always love your perspective. I think the judgement I did experience had a similar affect on me as it did for you – teaching me that I didn’t want to make another mom feel that small.

      You know what’s funny to me about co-sleeping now? I was never someone who wanted to co-sleep with my children and Ryan always slept so well in his crib as a baby that I didn’t think about it much. But now that he’s older but still in a crib, when he gets sick or isn’t feeling 100 percent for whatever reason, I can’t really comfort him and wish he’d just come lay with me in bed … but he won’t. He thinks it’s funny when I even suggest it. It’s a little frustrating, but I understand why he thinks it’s such a novelty… he’s never slept with us, so why would he start now? I think with our second kid, I’ll at least try to take the occasional nap in bed with him/her as a baby so that it’s not such a foreign concept. That’s the awesome thing about parenting – you are constantly learning as you go.

      I wish I lived closer to you! Our guys would have so much fun together.

  3. Heidi says:

    Oh the Mommy Guilt. It gets you no matter what choices yu make. I felt like I needed to be with Oscar all the time during his first year, especially since hubs was in Iraq. The right choice? I don’t know. I thought it was the right choice at the time, and that’s what matters.

    As moms, I think we just make choices that are best for oir kid in the moment. What works with one may not work with the next one. While it’s hard to be entirely judgement free, the further I get from those first days as a mom, the more I see that I don’t care what people think about my parenting choices, and the more confident I feel about just smiling when other people tell me silly things.

    Love the pic in this post, btw.

    • That’s exactly how I feel – the choices I made were the right choices at the time. There are things I would probably do differently now, given the insight I have that comes with time. But at the time, I was doing the best I could.

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