Y’all, the judgment in motherhood starts early. Like from conception early! You drank coffee while pregnant? Judged! Had a few sips of wine here and there? Double Judged! And how dare you eat a sandwich and put your unborn child at risk of listeria! Oh and those birth stories, let the judgment continue! Natural birth? You’re crazy; there is no award on my fridge for having my babies naturally. C-Section? That sucks, you will never get to experience “real” birth. Epidural? You totally just drugged your baby!
Ever thought these thoughts about other moms? Or had them thought about you? My first pregnancy, I was the judger! I fully cut out caffeine, refused to eat lunchmeat, and followed all the other little rules. I judged those who didn’t because I didn’t know any better, and Google told me so. (Huge mama tip: Stay off Google!!) But, my last pregnancy with Nora I ate all the sandwiches. Like, became a regular at Jersey Mike’s. I had two cups of coffee a day, and continued taking my daily Zyrtec (pure survival in Texas). The point is, I no longer judge. We all just want healthy babies and comfortable pregnancies and how you choose to achieve those is up to you! A difference in opinions and choices doesn’t make you wrong.
We are drafted into these so called “mommy wars” as soon as we conceive and are told we have to pick a side. Are you a stay at home mom or a working mom? Are you breastfeeding or bottle-feeding? Will you use spanking to discipline your children? Do you co-sleep? Let your babies cry it out? Vaccinate? But these very personal decisions are so much more than picking a side. They are making parenting choices that will define your motherhood and affect how our children grow up.
I flipped both Walker and Nora from their backs to their tummies to sleep when they were three months old. Neither of them dug the swaddle and when Walker went from sleeping in thirty-minute increments to four hours, I decided it was best for Walker (and me) to continue sleeping on his tummy. Going against recommended sleep guidelines, of course I could feel the judgment. Do you think I took this decision lightly? Absolutely not. I hovered over the bassinet, watching intently to make sure he was still breathing for days. Eventually, I felt comfortable enough with his neck strength to just let him sleep. I own this parenting choice because it was right for Walker and our family. What’s the point of judging me for it? Judgment wasn’t going to change my mind.
So who is the enemy in this war? Stop taking the time and energy to judge other moms. Sure, you can disagree, but disagree respectfully. Respect their choice and move on. Mama energy is precious. Why waste it on judging others when you could better focus that energy on your own kids?
Beyond the mommy wars we are also faced with keeping up with Mrs. Jones. These days social media puts Mrs. Jones (the perfect, rich, beautiful, super mom) front and center, flashing in our face all over our phone, everywhere we go. Mrs. Jones has endless amounts of money to dress her kids in the cutest clothes, gives expensive gifts, and she has the latest and greatest baby gadgets. So of course we want the same.
Just this past week, Walker had his last day of his first year of preschool. Cue the tears. I was telling Brayden, my budget crazy husband, that I needed to go buy end of year teacher gifts. He replied with “seriously didn’t we just buy teacher gifts?” and he was right, the week before was teacher appreciation week. He told me that two more expensive gifts were simply not in the budget that month. At first I complained, I had already seen some moms post their super cute gift baskets galore for their kid’s teachers. It would obviously make me look bad if I didn’t do at least that much if not more. But Brayden kindly reminded me “It’s great that those families can spoil those teachers in that way, however, we all run into trouble trying to keep up with the Jones’.” Brayden was right, he always is, and I realized I didn’t need to compete with these other moms. I needed to do what was financially responsible for our family. I still wanted Walker’s teachers to feel spoiled, they were truly amazing, so I ended up making a boat load of my favorite Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe and using one of my mama strengths to craft a cute “Thanks for making me one smart cookie!’ card to go with them. As far as monetary value is concerned, they weren’t worth much, but the thought and effort that was put into the gift was all that mattered.
Motherhood is not a competition. There is no trophy given when you breastfeed your baby for at least a year. You don’t get a medal for serving your kids only organic food. No one is going to give you a certificate for never spanking your child. Motherhood is not about winning; it is about raising tiny humans to be kind, thoughtful, contributing members of society. It is about “training” good, faithful Christians. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
One current stressor in my motherhood is Walker’s speech development. He is currently two and a half and while his speech improves every day, he has been diagnosed with a 35% speech delay. As his mom, I can understand every word. He talks extremely fast, but when I slow him down and we work on pronunciation he is able to self correct a lot of his sounds. So Brayden and I made the decision to hold off on speech therapy for another year. Walker’s teachers however, raised their own concerns about his speech and hearing, which had already been evaluated by an ENT and came back perfect. I tell this story because I get easily defensive, worried, concerned, and just sad whenever Walker’s speech is brought up. But it’s not a competition. Walker is learning at his own pace and we know he will get there, therapy or not. I did not lose some race because my son has a speech delay.
I am a winner though. After Walker’s teachers told me about their speech concerns, they continued to tell me how sweet, kind, and respectful he was in class. He uses his manners, shares with his classmates, and walks away from scuffles that other friends are engaging in. We win when we have done our jobs as moms to raise our kids to the best of our abilities. So yes, Walker has a speech delay, and maybe I failed him as a mom by letting him watch too much tv as a baby. But, he is well on his way to becoming a compassionate human being and that is really all I can ask for as his mom.