Wednesday, February 29, 2012

judge me, judge me not

Things change the second time around.

With Roman I was so picky about so much. Naps were only to be taken in his crib or in a pack-n-play at someone else's house, his blankie was never to leave said crib, etc. But I'm typing this while Liam naps in the swing. As he does every afternoon. And this morning, Roman took his blankie with him in the car. It stayed in there while we went to Wal-Mart with friends, but only because he was too busy playing and having fun to care.

I've changed. The things/battles that seem important have changed. Not all- I still place a very high priority on naps happening, there are other things that just aren't allowed to happen, but if we need to watch a second [or third!] episode of something on television every once in a while because it's been a long day and Mama needs a break (or Roman needs a break from me) then bring it on, Elmo. Bring it on. Because in the big picture, it really doesn't matter.

I was just talking with girlfriends Friday night (one who has three kids and one with four) about how the reality changes when you add another member to the family. I used to hear about babies who napped in the swing and thought, "Come on, Mom, be willing to do a little bit of extra work to teach them to sleep in the crib. Don't be lazy. That's the way it's supposed to be done." Yet here I am- my youngest napping in the swing. Not because he won't nap in his crib, because he actually naps well in there and sleeps in it all night, but because he sleeps harder, longer when he's in the swing and when Roman is taking his one nap of the day, you better believe I'm doing whatever I need to do to guarantee that both boys stay sleeping for the duration of that 2 hour break. This mama needs her alone time!!!!!

A side note: the word guarantee will forever be a word that I cannot remember how to spell and must always use spell check. Why can't my brain remember it!??!?!

Yet the very thing I'm doing now is what I judged other moms for being lazy for a year ago. Oh, Lauren. Even admitting that makes my heart feel ugly.

That thought, though, is what led me to start a conversation with Jerry on the way to church Sunday. I was talking about how things aren't always what they seem based on my current, limited perspective. And that gets me in trouble so much. I struggle constantly with my judgmental heart. It's one of those things that I've really been working on the past few years, but just when I think I'm making progress I catch a snapshot of my heart and think, "Have I gotten nowhere?!?"

The thing that sucks is that it only makes my life harder and more judge-filled. I'm serious. Others don't know the thoughts I think so I'm not hurting them, I'm hurting me. Example: thinking I'm a good mom for only letting my child watch one episode of Elmo every day. Oh, pity the mothers who are lazy and let their kid(s) watch more than that. Right? Wrong. You do what you gotta do. (Btw- since when is a GOOD MOM defined as "one who only lets their kid watch one tv show a day? That's ridiculous.) But my ugly, prideful heart doesn't hurt the mothers whose children watch more than 20 minutes of television a day. In truth, my ugly, prideful heart only makes me feel CRAZY guilty when Roman watches more than one show. Which, I should honestly note, is more days than not. I'm the one I'm hurting by judging someone's decision. And when Roman watches a second episode it's not because I'm being lazy. It's because stuff has to get done- dinner has to get made and little fingers can get burned, or I had to teach lessons that night so Roman ate his dinner on time and Jerry and I have to eat an hour later but he already had dinner and needs something he can do by himself while we sit at the table and enjoy conversation together. What toddler is going to sit at the table doing nothing for half an hour when they've already eaten an hour ago? But from my position before, I didn't consider those things. I automatically jumped to assume the worst of someone.

I'm embarrassed.

But I'm writing about it because talking to Jerr about it made me wonder how many other people- not just moms and not just females, even!- hold such high expectations for themselves and look negatively on others who do what you can't fathom themselves doing.... "Oh, my toddler would NEVER eat a meal like that." "How old is that kid and why would he ever be allowed to ____"

I know those are examples from a life of a mother, but moms are some of the meanest and nastiest people to each other! WHY IS THAT?! Shouldn't it be the other way around? That's another blog topic some day. And one I probably won't write because it wouldn't be very kind.

Chances are high that we'll find ourselves in that same place later, doing the same thing they did because of reasons that aren't on our mental radar right now, and we'll be extra hard on ourselves because we "always said I wouldn't be THAT person."

Man, I can't wait for the day I am genuinely able to look at a scenario that seems less than favorable and know that can't be the case. Or assume there must be something about that situation that I don't/can't yet understand that would allow for that decision to be the best one or the necessary one.

That would be a much more beautiful heart to have.

It's a good thing I have a lifetime to practice.


  1. I think we judge because we all want the very best for our babies and try to do the very best most of the time. When we see other people making decisions that are different than ours, we HAVE to kind of think that it isn't AS GOOD of a choice (or we would be making the same choice for our little one). The TV one is one that I hold very strong to. BUT my sister (like you) has two under 15 months and is much more lienient. Why? Because she has to be in order to keep any semblance of normality in her house. Is it going to be detrimental to her daughter? No.

    The only one that I struggle most with is breast feeding. Mostly because it isn't just a decision of opinions. It's a fact that it is healthier for both baby and Momma. But I try not to judge when I see a Mom with a itty bitty newborn feeding it with a bottle (and all the little girls on 16 and Pregnant). Maybe she has a medical condition or maybe it is pumped breast milk in the bottle. There is no way for me to know. And frankly it's none of my business!

    Things are not always as they seem.

  2. It is weird though because I feel SO guilty about letting her still have her binkie but really why?! How much does it matter if she has it until 6 month or 18 or, gasp, 24? I feel guilty because I don't feel like I am doing what is VERY BEST for her. Even though I know its not harming her.

    Mommy guilt is serious stuff :)

  3. Jamie, one of the best realizations for a mother is to realize that guilt would imply a bad MORAL decision. Pacifiers, bottle feeding/breastfeeding, elmo, etc are not moral issues therefore should not be subject to any sort of guilt. Besides some sort of abuse or neglect, there really is no right or wrong. There is definitely a good, better, best but that can only be determined by the individual who can take all aspects into account. Mothering gets a lot easier and more enjoyable once you let go of trying to do everything 'right' and just shoot for what is best for YOUR family. Either that, or you will do what I did, and completely exhaust yourself from caring about everybody and everything. Good luck! Motherhood is quite the roller coaster!

  4. And whenever you feel that 'guilt' creeping in, just sit back and think about the chances of your sweet girl going to college with that will ease your pain. :-)