I admit, I can be just as much of a judgmental bee-yatch as the next person. But having kids changed me. I’m not saying that I no longer judge – I don’t think any of us can claim that – but having two kids, a boy and a girl, who are so different, has made me a better person. I’m more patient than I used to be. I’m much more tolerant – not just of other people’s kids (I no longer cringe when the woman with the screaming baby chooses a seat near me) – but of other people in general.
My kids’ personalities revealed themselves early on. I have spirited, active kids. I don’t want to crush that. I usually stop them before they get too loud, or run too far, and I certainly don’t tolerate violence and destruction. But sometimes we have bad days. Sometimes I look one way for five seconds and my child does something I wouldn’t normally allow, but I don’t see it that one time. Sometimes, I’m exhausted, pushed to my limit, and I go slack on a “rule” that I swore I would uphold without compromise. My kids, like all others, push and test boundaries. Often I am told what well-behaved, even charming kids I have. Sometimes, I am the recipient of dirty looks and nasty comments. All snap judgments based on slivers of moments that the self-appointed “judges” observed.
We all have different ideas about how best to go about raising a child. Peruse the parenting shelves in any bookstore, or question a few different “experts,” and it is quickly apparent that there is no single-best approach, and no one way to ensure that our children are perfect angels and we are well-rested, perfectly coiffed, reasonable parents. And that’s just our country. Parenting methods vary widely from family to family, but start throwing in another culture or two and you will quickly realize that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to parenting.
Perhaps we could all take our foot off the judgment pedal, which many have pressed to the floor, gently ease on the brakes, stop, chill, and be supportive of each other as women. As parents. As mothers (and fathers!) who are all trying to do our best. Because in the end, I believe that is what the vast majority of parents are truly striving for. The best they can do for their kids. Having kids means that, on some level, we hold hope for the future. A bright future for our kids, our families, our society, even our planet. We are all in this together, after all.