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.
Besides, the first kid is just practice, right?
*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.