Withholding judgment

Let me tell you a little secret.  Parenting any and every child is hard.  They don't tell you that when you get pregnant.  You can infer it by watching other parents, but until you deal with it in your everyday life, you have no idea.

As parents, we make millions of choices concerning our children.  Based on what?  Our experiences growing up, most likely.  Maybe we've watched other people parent in a way that we'd like to emulate, but there's no guide book here.  Because each child is so wonderfully unique, our parenting choices also vary widely.  They have to.  What worked for one kiddo is never going to be the blanket cure for every child.

They say that opinions are like assholes, everybody's got one.  I have my own, of course, and sometimes I'd like nothing more than to say to another parent, "You're doing this wrong."  But I've had that said to me before, albeit rarely, and guess what?  It sucks.  All it does is make me mad at the other person.  No one really hears you when you tell them you're doing something wrong.

I think that when we're young we form our opinions on life and truly believe that this is how we are going to think and feel when we die.  Then something happens, it could be small or major, that rocks our belief system.  What if I'm wrong?  What if I've always been wrong?  The beauty in this is that you can finally say to yourself "I don't know everything.  Maybe, even, I know NOTHING."  How scary.  How freeing.  Seeing the world from a fresh and non-judgmental place for the first time.

Maybe you are co-sleeping with a seven year old.  Maybe your four year old still takes a pacifier.  Maybe you yell much more often that you think you should.  I'm sure there are things about your parenting that you keep quiet because you worry how they'd be perceived by the outside world.  I know that there is my public side of being mommy and my private side is so very much different.  I work hard to blend the two.  I don't often love either one.

Here's the thing though, and I've learned this through my years as a mom. We are all sometimes the mom to "that" kid that doesn't act like the rest.  If what you're doing is working for you and you don't want to change it, it's fine.  It's not up to me to pass judgment on you, and if some outspoken, uninformed person tries to, please ignore it.  When I see something in another parent that I question, I now say to myself "Who is it hurting?"  It's never hurting me, I know that.  Is it hurting the parent?  The child?  Even if I think the answer is yes and I think I know a way that could help them, I usually keep my mouth shut.  If a friend is venting to me, I ask myself "Do they want me to help with this, or are they just talking?" 

I would never say to another parent, "Look at your out of control child."  I may think it, but then I know that there have been probably hundreds of people who have thought the same about my kids at times.  Who are sweet, wonderfully compassionate, creative, and funny.  And I know that I work my darnedest to be the best parent I can be, which unfortunately I feel falls short just about every day.  We are both trying our hardest.  I'm sure it's the same for you.  And the lady I judge at Target, or at the school, or at the restaurant, or my best friend.

But you and I know our own struggles.  That other mom knows hers too, she doesn't need us to point them out.  And, just maybe, this place that we're silently judging is an even better place than the one she's just come from.  We don't need to knock her down and remind her that she's not there yet.