“Danielle, I don’t know anyone who could possibly get away with traveling as much as you do….”
She continued, “You realize, when we commit to staying home with our children, we are supposed to stick with it, right?”
And this was the beginning of the end of what had, at one time, been a very close friendship.
Friends don’t judge each other. At least not in my world. Let me take that a step further. Moms shouldn’t be judging other moms. Women shouldn’t be judging other women. And yet it happens every day. But it needs to stop. We are damaging each other – chipping away at our hearts, our self esteem and our strength as moms. I promise you, I know what is right in my home. I didn’t sign my name in blood when my children were born, so deciding to be at home full time was a decision I made at that time because it felt right. Just like working from home, and having my own business and sometimes traveling feels right. I have the full support of my husband and children. Those are the people I check in with. But I can’t tell you the words and judgement didn’t hurt. And I can’t tell you it doesn’t still hurt when it happens.
Do you choose to stay home with your children? Good for you.
Do you choose to work from home or out of your home? Good for you.
Do you let your kids stay up until 10pm on a school night? More power to you.
Are your kids in bed by 7pm? Excellent.
Is your home chock full of organic food, including baby food you labor over yourself? Wonderful.
Do you eat out every night, including fast food? Good for you.
Do you homeschool, send your kids to school outside the home at age 2, have a child-free Summer because your kids are away at camp for 10 weeks, breastfeed, bottle-feed, babywear, fly with your kids when they are 6 months old or refuse, talk about your kids online or keep their identities anonymous, say ‘use your words’ or ‘shut up’, opt for natural childbirth or an epidural, involve your kids in 6 activities or stress imaginative play, are you a free-range parent or an over-protective one?
Wherever you fall, it is perfectly extraordinary. Let me say it again: what you are doing as a mother is extraordinary.
Let me stress this…. I love how you love your children. I love how you labor over what decisions are right in your home. I love how you decide what works for you, your significant other and your small people…. because you know who knows what works best for YOU? YOU DO.
I believe this so deeply, so firmly, so STRONGLY, I have joined the Strong Moms Advisory Board. We live in a world that increasingly wants us to make the ‘perfect’ parenting decisions or face criticism and judgement from others. The Strong Moms Empowerment Program, brought to you by Similac, is a call-to-action…empowering moms to feel confident about the decisions they make for their families and in turn, support other moms as they do the same. You can sign a simple pledge making the commitment to do just that right here.
Every day, moms experience some level of judgement for the choices they make. And I’m not immune. Just yesterday, I sat on a flight in front of a little boy who repeatedly said, ‘but I can’t see… I just can’t see’. I suspect he was about three or four. His window view was blocked by the plane engine. Clearly something that couldn’t be helped. His mom wasn’t interested in listening to him… she vacillated between saying, ‘just SHUT UP!” and “don’t you know you are embarrassing yourself? People are staring at you!” I consciously chose not to judge her harsh tone – recognizing that I have no idea what her day has been like…. has her child pushed every possible button today? is she coming home from a funeral? We don’t KNOW what is happening in someone else’s home, and therefore shouldn’t judge. It isn’t always easy. I was sad for the little boy.
Recognize that YOU may choose to make different decisions, or at least you assume you would, but our job is to support each other, not to tear each other down.
Tomorrow, I will be taking part in the Strong Moms Empowerment Summit in New York City along side my fellow board members, media personalities – the Moms Melissa Gerstein and Denise Albert, parenting expert, Michelle Borba Ed.D and pediatrician Sue Hubbard MD, as well as Tonia Sanders from The Chatty Momma.
We’re hopeful this is just the beginning of the conversation.
We have so much to offer each other…. Support can be so powerful and judgement so damaging. We need more of one and much, much less of the other.
Disclosure: As previously mentioned, I am a member of the Strong Moms Advisory Board. I chose to join the board because this is an issue that matters to me. The thoughts and opinions shared in this post are mine and mine alone.