Guess what, folks? We live in a cruel world. We live in a world where babies are abandoned, neglected, and abused. We live in a world where we sometimes fear to send our children to school because they may be gunned down by a crazy person. We live in a world where child pornography and sexual abuse run rampant. But here’s the thing; we also live in a world where many moms are trying their hardest to raise happy, healthy, smart, kind children. We live in a world that our kids can grow up in knowing they can be whatever they want to be. We live in a world with buses, trains, and cars, and I have it on good authority from my three year old son that these are the best things ever! What I would like to know is why those of us who are trying our best to raise these awesome tiny humans to be awesome adults are constantly judging other mothers who are doing the same thing. In this great, big, wonderful and scary world, shouldn’t we all be supportive of one another? And moms most of all?
Motherhood is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I’ll tell you a secret, and this might lose us some readers, but I don’t have all the answers! Most of the time I’m just bluffing my way through it and doing the best I know how. Just when I think I have things figured out, this thing called parenthood throws another curve ball my way. I don’t just go to bed every night wondering if I’ve done the best job as a mom that I could do, I’m constantly asking myself that question throughout the day. Do you know what I love? I love that I have some friends and family that I can call up when I feel like things are falling apart and they’re there to tell me that they’ve been in my shoes and I’m doing a good job and it’ll be okay.
Lately I’ve seen a lot less of that positivity and a lot more negativity and judgment. Why does it matter what age my child stops having a pacifier? Why does it matter how I get my child to sleep at night? Why does it matter if I let my child have one piece of candy once in awhile for good behavior? Why does it matter if my child hasn’t mastered drinking out of a sippy cup by the time she’s one? Why does it matter if I use a so called “leash” for my child?
Here’s a sad fact; the only reason we took our son’s pacifier away from him when we did is because I worried about what other people were saying about us. I look back at that now and I think it was so stupid. I don’t even remember how old he was. I know he was older than one and younger than two. When we took it away from him it ended up being a piece of cake so he must have been ready, but I wasn’t ready. I dreaded taking it away from him and I did NOT want to do it when I did it. I only did it because of negative comments from other people about how children of a certain age shouldn’t be allowed to have a pacifier.
We had a traumatic potty training experience because I felt like our son needed to be potty trained by the time he was three. I had seen so many articles online of people talking about how they potty trained their 2 year old in 3 days. I felt like such a failure when I didn’t manage to do the same thing. Turns out, I wasn’t a failure, my son just wasn’t ready. That’s wonderful if you can potty train your 2 year old in 3 days. I am truly happy for you because it’ll save you money and diaper changes, and who wouldn’t love that?! My son wasn’t potty trained until he was 3 and a half, but when he was ready, it happened overnight. Different strokes for different folks.
I never used reins (what a child’s safety harness is known as in England) for my kids. Honestly before I had kids I was one of the ones who judged wrongfully by thinking that using such a thing was just lazy. Once I had a willful little boy who always tried to dart into the road as soon as we let go of his hand, I understood the need. He actually started listening to us and staying by our side before we bought the reins, but I was one step away from purchasing some when the time came.
Sometimes it’s all about putting ourselves in another person’s shoes. I had never been in a situation where I could see that reins would be necessary until that point. It was an eye opener for me. I try to think twice now before I judge what someone else does. The fact of the matter is: We never know what another person is going through. Putting a “leash” on a child is better than that child running in front of a moving car during that one second you had to turn your back to deal with your other child.
I keep seeing articles about moms who judge each other and how we need to support each other. You might be thinking, “Good grief, give it a rest, we get it!!” Unfortunately, not everybody else gets it because I still see examples of this nastiness on a daily basis. Next time you’re going to say something about another person’s parenting skills, I urge you to think twice and make sure that what you’re going to say isn’t hurtful or negative.
Do you know, when I think about my childhood, I don’t think about how I wish my parents hadn’t fed me this food or that food and that I wish they’d taught me to read and count as soon as I could speak. I think about how they loved me and how I knew they loved me every day, without question. I think about how much fun I had as a kid and how carefree those days were. I think about how my parents were (and still are) my biggest fans and cheerleaders. I think about how thankful I am that I had them then and have them now.
The fact of the matter is, there isn’t one correct approach to parenting. There are many instances where more than one style of parenting can be suitable. What is best for you might not be best for another, but that’s okay. We all know our children and what works for them and us. We just need to respect one another as hard working moms who are doing the best we can. Parenting is hard. Period. Let’s try to be there for one another and make it that much easier.