Disclaimer: If you are a parent and I see you in public, I am watching you; and I am judging you.
Let's get something straight: I'm a mom, too. I'm not judging you because I think I'm better than you. I'm not even judging you because I'm a bitch (because I' m not - I happen to think I'm a very nice person). I'm judging you because I'm a mom and I'm trying to learn the lay-of-the-parenthood-land; the rules of motherhood, which sadly, do not exist.
As a new parent, you have to start somewhere -- be it a book, a website, or watching others. We are all judging you, and judging each other.
Recently, I ran into trouble on Facebook, again -- man, what is it with me and social media? Actually, I think I know -- sometimes I just say what I feel, and often, I'm misunderstood. Even when I'm not misunderstood, I think raw emotion in the form of social media bothers some people. Moving on...
I'm part of a few different parenting groups on Facebook. They are wonderful and helpful - we share knowledge and support one another.
Fast-forward to yesterday. I posted a random comment to one of the groups about a woman, who I did not know, that I had observed in a shopping mall with her young infant, and how an interaction between the mother and infant had made me sad because based on my knowledge and opinion, it did not seem to be in the best interest of the baby. I had really wanted to go talk to this woman about it, but because I'm not that creepy stranger, I did not.
Most of the comments my post got were "normal" -- but two women in particular, commented back about how what I had said was "super-judgey." Another pregnant and soon-to-be-new-mom said I was an example of what she was afraid of when she becomes a new mom -- another mother passing judgement.
Now, at first I felt really bad. I had not meant to offend anyone. When I shared what I saw at the shopping mall with the Facebook group I hadn't done so to poke fun at that mother (who was a stranger I had never met) or belittle her choices. I shared it because it was relevant to the Facebook group and the choices we, the members, had all made with our parenting style.
After a brief moment, I got over feeling bad about my comment, and then instead, I felt mad. I was mad because these women were judging me! Then I got over these emotions all together because that's when it hit me -- we are all judging each other, all the time. Passing judgement is how we are able to interpret our surroundings and decide how we want to live our lives. These judgments are not always negative, and they are not always positive -- they just are. If we didn't pass judgement on the actions and choices of others, we ourselves, would never make any choices.
So when I say I'm judging you, I really am. Especially your parenting. Because the way you parent is helping me decide how I want to parent: that I want to breastfeed; that I want to use cloth diapers during the day but disposables at night. That I want to teach my son about nature and be honest with him about his body and the way that it works by using anatomically correct terms; that I will vaccinate my son; and that I won't buy him a million Christmas presents because I don't want a bunch of junk laying around my house (among other reasons).
And just because I am learning from the way that you do things and may choose a different way of doing them doesn't mean that I think what you are doing is wrong. It just means that I want to do it differently.
So again, be warned: if you are a parent, and even if you're not, I am judging you. And I hope you're judging me, too. Because honestly, if we all took the time to notice and appreciate and study the way other people are raising their children, we might find a collective better way to do things together. So please, call me a mother-judger. This is one type of name-calling that will not offend me.
I leave you with Justin Timberlake-inspired words from his amazing digital short with SNL back in 2011: Cuz I'm a mother-judger, you're a mother-judger, we should judge each other's mothers."
If this reference has just flown over your head, please, Google it -- you can thank me later.