I’ve judged you. Yes, you! When I saw you in the shopping centre, when I was scrolling through my Instagram feed or when I met you. When I see you every week, when I invite you over or when I go to your house. You are not exempt. I might know you. I might not.
I won’t try to deny it. Because I have. And I’m sorry…or am I? Yes, I’m sorry that I’ve done something that I hate people doing to me! It’s awful, hurtful, unkind, harmful and sometimes soul-destroying.
I’m not sure if I’m sorry because I don’t want to give up my opinions. I don’t want to get off my soap box. I’m a dog with a rope in her mouth, tugging, shaking and holding on fast. Because I’m right! I know I am! Or am I?
I’ve judged you for the way you “mom”. I’ve judged the life choices you’ve made because I chose differently.
I’ve “poo-pooed” the food you’ve fed your child. I’ve clucked at the food you don’t give your child. I’ve sneered if you started solids at a different time to me. I’ve looked down on you if you decided to work instead of stay at home like me.
I’ve shaken my head if you’ve bottle fed instead of breast-fed. Everyone knows that breast is best.
I’ve fumed over the way you’ve chosen to discipline your child or not discipline your child. This is the soap box I want to keep. You’ll have to pull me off this one as I cling aggressively to it, nails dug in hard so as not to let go. Because I’ve seen what your decisions do in the classroom. I’ve seen the effects on your child and on other children. And because your child made me mad, you didn’t do it right.
I’ve sneered at you for not stimulating your child at home – for not making the time to read stories, to play games, to learn colours, shapes, body parts and count; to just speak to your child.
I’ve looked down on you because your child has screen time. I’ve heard that it does nothing for them and their brain is more active when they’re sleeping than when they are watching a screen. I’ve clucked at the way you used it as a baby sitter. “Send them outside, give them books and puzzle and don’t give in,” was my feeling!
I’ve judged you for co-sleeping. I’ve laughed at what you’ve thought you knew about something you actually know nothing about. I’ve felt incredulous over the things you’ve exposed your child to.
I’ve rolled my eyes over the things you’ve splashed money on. I’ve scorned the frivolous way you spend.
I’ve been smug and angry because you said you weren’t coping when, really, your child is not difficult compared to mine!
I’ve judged you for being too industrious! Because, really! Don’t try to be supermom and shame us all! Stop trying to outshine us!
And, right now, my heart is hammering in my chest. Because now I’m scared of you. Scared you’ll never be my friend. Scared you’ll hate me. Scared you’ll smile courteously at me through gritted teeth as you seethe inside. And, terrified you’ll judge me too.
For, behind my shield of pride and judgement is a quivering, wobbly mommy. A babysitter, a teacher who thought she knew it all. One who still thinks she knows a lot more than all of you. But one who now realises that there are things that, no matter your determination not to give in and not to play the game by anyone else’s rules, also loses.
My child will eat all her vegetables! She eats some. Not all. She sometimes eats some. Other times she’ll refuse the ones she used to love.
I will not bottle feed. I haven’t. But I nearly did. Low supply is problematic but so is oversupply. My baby battled to swallow the torrent of milk that poured into her mouth so she couldn’t catch her breath. She worked herself up when I unlatched her to let the spray subside. She screamed as she gulped down wind with milk. She slid off because she didn’t seal her latch. She had a lip tie. The laser treatment didn’t work. She still had a bad latch. Breast feeding was awful. Having a fussing baby was distressing. Changing dry nappies was scary. And losing my sanity was frightening. Breast may be best but my sanity and my children’s safety was more important. When I was distressed, so was my baby. And no one else could feed her. No one could give me a break. No one could rescue her from her volatile mother. And, after much thought and gathered courage, I voiced my feelings. A sane mother was more important for my family than a breastfed baby.
My child will not have a tantrum! If she does, I won’t put up with it. I won’t ignore it! I will punish her so that she never dares to have another. But, I’ve yelled, matched her pitch and done more to try and stop them. I’ve lashed out in anger and embarrassment. I’ve, in desperation (and in public) ignored her in the hopes that she’ll lose interest – but she doesn’t. I’ve swiftly swung her out the room and spoken in whispering threats to her. Many times, I can stop it. But I have yet to stop it before it’s started. What am I doing wrong?
I will stimulate my child. My child, despite my best efforts, does not know her colours. She may be only two but, in other areas of her speech and recognition of shapes and letters (taught incidentally and due to her own interest), she does not know more than two colours consistently. I am surprised because she’s smart for her age. I thought that this was easier than it has been. I don’t read books often each day because I don’t have time and because I don’t feel like it. I can’t concentrate when the unfolded washing is taunting me in the corner. I can’t anymore because I can’t read that story again without losing my mind! I don’t pull out the paints because it will make too much mess and it’s more effort than I’ve got to give. I don’t kick a ball because I can’t be bothered to play; I just want to sit. Or because the dishes tease me in the kitchen.
My child will not have screen time. But she did. I lay on the floor in the sun, shivering, with a blocked duct and couldn’t “mom”. I turned it on. I couldn’t take the whining anymore so I gave her something to do while I made supper and bathed the baby. I knew it would bide me time. I couldn’t control the disruption she caused during Bible study so I gave her something to do to keep her quiet.
I will not co-sleep! But I have. In sheer exhaustion and desperation, I did the last thing I hadn’t tried because I just needed sleep! I was not coping and it was the only way to calm her down and stay sane!
I know what I’m talking about because of all my experience with children! Actually, “momming” is different to teaching, is different to babysitting. Some nights bed times tick past on the clock and I chide myself for not making supper in time or for keeping my child awake.
I will not throw away money I don’t have! I don’t have a budget. At least, I don’t have one I stick to. I forgot that we would need toilet paper. Baby vaccines and flu medication didn’t occur to me. We went through too much milk. I wanted to have a small treat with my husband (a slab of chocolate) on the weekend. I wanted to buy my daughter an ice-cream in the holidays, even though I wondered how we would buy food next week.
I have a reason not to cope; you don’t. I’m a drama queen. But this…this is something worth the drama for once. And, although you coped through this, I’m not. You may scorn me. But don’t, because I can’t bear that load too. So how dare I look down on you because you’re not coping? Just because I may have coped with what you’re going through, you, likewise, may have coped with what I’m going through.
I won’t be a Supermom. Not because I don’t want to be. Because I can’t be. I don’t like feeling like I’m failing because I don’t colour rice for my child to play with and I don’t grow my own wheat to make my own bread. I am jealous because you do. And I judge you only because I want to be you.
I don’t know why you made the choices you did. Maybe you were like me. Maybe you thought one thing but did another. Because what you thought didn’t work. Maybe you had no other choice. I’ve judged you! And I’m sorry I have. And, honestly, sometimes I’m not because I still think I’m right. I’m sorry that my judgement hurt because I honestly don’t want to hurt! But I still think I’m right. Maybe I am, maybe I’m not.
But I’ve done the very thing to you that makes me cry when I’m on my own. I’ve done to you what creates a lump in my throat that I have to swallow when I’m out with others. I’ve done to you what makes me feel so alone. I’ve done to you what has stung me. I’ve done to you what has crushed and broken me. I’ve done to you what makes me feel like I’ve fallen short and missed the mark. I’ve done to you what makes me question every decision I’ve ever made as a mom. I’ve done to you what makes me want to give up because I’m no good at “momming” when I was convinced I would be.
I don’t want to judge you. I don’t want to hurt you like others have hurt me. And I’m sorry if I have.
I can’t promise that I won’t judge you again. I can’t say that I won’t judge you for the same thing again. In fact, I can tell you with probable certainty that I will judge you again!
But it’s called sin. It’s called a fallen world. And I’m called a sinner. I can’t fix my sinfulness on my own. I am the debtor who owed and was let off only to throttle the debtor who owed me. I was shown grace but I have shown none. And, without the help of the Grace-giver, I will always judge you. I am a broken mommy. Just like you. I judge but hate being judged. I am proud but I feel small. I know it all but feel like I know nothing at all.
And, only by a continual grace shown to me, can I offer you help instead of judgement; show understanding instead of disdain; see the fault in me before I brush you off because of yours. I don’t mean to hurt you. But I know my judgements do. Don’t expect me to change anytime soon. I am a work in progress and hurt because I am hurting. But, one day, by His grace you will feel me lifting you up, not shoving you down.
(This was no easy post to write and yet the words spilled easily onto the page. Maybe it’s because it’s the hard, honest truth and it needs to be said.)
Photo Credit @thirdcoasttribeTags: baby, bottle, breast feeding, discipline, food, honesty, judge, judgement, mom guilt, mommyhood, moms, motherhood, parenting, parents, screen time, toddler, truth