Judging has been a lot on my mind lately.
In a comment on a blog post I read last week, I read a comment mentioning one of the greatest lessons I’m learning as a mother. “…motherhood is a great time to learn not to judge people, because everyone has different opinions and parenting styles and judgement doesn’t do anyone any good.”
When I was pregnant, when I was a new mom, I worked so hard to do it ‘right’. I read a lot of articles and listened to advice. I stressed when I realized that some did more than me, and I kept some things quiet since some would judge.
It’s nothing new.
She was bought from a store.
I spent months before combing the Petfinder listings, checking around weekends when local shelters stood in front of PetCo with cages.
The tiny litters from people trying to make a buck? Nothing I wanted.
The shelter dogs? Adorable, in need of a good home, shaky, shy, grown up and set in their ways.
I knew I was going to need a dog that would be able to live with small children, so we worked with a family friend and when she got a pair of chihuahua puppies in her shop I ran right over and fell in love with my dog.
This is a story I couldn’t share in the years taking her to the dog park, together to get ice cream, driving around on errands on a cool day.
We took her to obedience classes and I bought her cute dresses, and she gets cookies at Christmas just like everyone else.
She is my first child.
I would be complimented on her social skills and obedience and my answer was always “she was a gift” as her tail beats a rapid pulse showing her happiness making a new friend.
Did it make her a bad dog for how I acquired her?
Did it make me a bad pet owner for getting a puppy from someone I personally knew so I could train and prepare her?
I shouldn’t have to go into the whole story why I made this decision to strangers to defend my decision.
No one should have to defend their choices to strangers.
Do parents deserve to be judged for the decisions they make?
Who has it right?
I’ve judged myself enough times to cover it. And through that indecisiveness, that uncertainty I had judged other people trying to make myself feel better about my choices.
And if they knew I had made those judgements, they would have felt as bad as the first time someone asked me about my dog at the park, when I answered honestly and got lashed at for not adopting.
The last year has brought definite changes in my life.
I’ve found security in my choices as my son grows up happy, curious, loved and healthy.
I’ve taken away some of the negative influence, distanced myself from someone who spewed judgement at everyone in her life because she was unhappy herself.
I’ve tried to look at the other parents at the park, in the store and remind myself my fleeting encounters are just that, and no one could know all about me in a few minutes time.
I remind myself how much I feared being judged for my choices.
Even though some will judge me for my choices, I remind myself that through mine and my husband’s choices, my son is growing up just fine and well- loved.
That other parents love their children just as much and are choosing what they feel is right for them and their lives.
Through that growing security that I am making the right decisions, I am growing up.
So for anyone out there still judging mercilessly, for the comments on blog posts, the remarks on message boards and behind the family’s backs in Target, remember that for every finger that points at someone else three point back at you- your own.
Ask yourself when you judge what insecurities are you hiding, what judgement calls you are afraid to announce, the moments where you think you failed.
Then grow up a little more and move on, remembering the times you’d like to forget and all of the times you wish others would see instead.
Because no one needs to judge others to feel better about themselves, and no one deserves to be judged for trying to do the right thing.
I’d like to remind my readers about the Mom Pledge. I signed it way back when and the movement is still going strong, fueled by a desire to end cyber bullying against mothers.