We've all been there, haven't we? Let's be honest with ourselves, we've all experienced moments of judgment towards other parents because, at one point or another, we were without children ourselves.
We've found ourselves sitting across from another mom, secretly passing judgment as she tried to coax her toddler into putting on their shoes with some Oreo bribes. Or perhaps we witnessed a parent pouring formula (gasp) into their baby's bottles instead of breastfeeding, and we couldn't help but feel a little critical. And yes, we might have been taken aback when we saw a six-year-old being served macaroni and cheese and chicken nuggets for the umpteenth time in one week.
We've quietly observed, too, how pregnancy changed our friends' bodies, or how they couldn't stop talking about their baby's poop, and perhaps we weren't as understanding as we should have been when a coworker struggled with balancing work and parenting responsibilities.
I'll admit it—I was once guilty of being judgmental of moms. I resented how having children seemed to take away so much from the people I loved—their freedom, interests, passions, and careers. I couldn't understand why they seemed to lose sight of the things that defined them before becoming parents—their friendships, hobbies, and dreams. I wondered if they truly found happiness in this new role. I believed in strong women pursuing their dreams and maintaining authentic relationships with themselves. I was determined not to trade my identity for anything when I became a mom. I wanted to remain true to myself.
But life has a way of challenging our preconceived notions and expectations. Despite my "would never" list, fate had other plans for me. My intention to have one child has turned into three wonderful, high-energy boys. In a lesser way, I consider Simple Wishes and my other company; Pumping Essentials to be my other children. After all, Simple Wishes was born with my oldest son and Pumping Essentials with my 2nd son.
Parenthood, as it turns out, can change us in unexpected ways. I found myself making choices I never thought I would. I had planned to breastfeed for a year, which I did with my first child, but I ended up switching to formula after just four weeks with my 2nd son. Pregnancy led to significant weight gain, and losing those extra pounds has been a challenge amidst the demands of motherhood and life. The routines of caring for my little human babies, along with my two start-up companies, became the center of my world, and I often felt (and feel) overwhelmed and stressed.
Yes, I became the mom I once judged, the mom I didn't fully understand, and the mom I thought I would never be. It was a journey of transformation.
What I do know now is that no two journeys of motherhood are the same. Mac & Cheese with a side of hot dogs and peas is a staple meal around our house. Honestly, my boys love it and darn it, it does have all the major food groups! See how I’m getting a little defensive? My point is, there's no one right way to do it all. Holding my crying, vulnerable babies in my arms taught me that we can't fully grasp the challenges and joys of parenting until we experience it firsthand.
Instead of judging other moms, let's support each other in our unique journeys. Life as a parent is full of sacrifices and rewards, and we can surprise ourselves with the choices we make when faced with the realities of raising children. Let's empathize with one another and be understanding, knowing that each of us is doing our best to navigate this incredible yet challenging role.
So, let's make a pact—to be compassionate and kind to one another. Whether it's finding a few moments of quiet by letting our kids watch a show or resorting to creative solutions for sleep-deprived nights, let's support each other in whatever it takes to make our lives work for us and our families. Case in point, I let my boys watch two movies in a row yesterday while I went for a nice long run. I was stretching on my mat in child's pose and fell asleep. Woke up in a pool of my own drool. Clearly, I needed to give myself that break!
As we embrace motherhood, let's remember that we're all human, we all have our struggles, and we all have the capacity to grow and change. And so, the judgmental side (aka bitchy side) of me has evolved into someone more empathetic and understanding. Parenthood has taught me to appreciate the beauty in our diverse journeys, and I now understand that being judgmental was, in fact, unkind.
In the end, we are all doing our best, and our love for our children unites us in a powerful way. So, instead of dwelling on past judgments, let's celebrate the joy of motherhood and support each other wholeheartedly.