I just read this article by Kara Gebnart Uhl from the Huffington Post. Seriously hilarious and SO true I cannot even tell you, I was the MOST judgmental person in the entire world before I had kids... shame on me, because I got it back 10-fold. Here's the article:
To the Parents I Knew Four Years Ago: I'm Sorry
I have come to realize many things since having three children. For
example, I now know that I can read "We're Going on a Bear Hunt" seven
times in a row without going insane. No matter what people say,
throw-up is throw-up and I don't care if it is my daughter who is
throwing up but her throw-up makes me want to throw up. I am a really
fast diaper changer. And it's true: love does not split, but grows with
But perhaps one of the biggest realizations I've made as a
relatively new parent (my daughter turns 4 in March, my twin boys turn
2 in May) is how incredibly judgmental I was pre-children.
You, the woman at Kohl's who pushed a cart with your screaming toddler
draped on the rack underneath it, ignoring her as she scraped her feet
on the floor because she couldn't have the toy she wanted: I judged you. Girlfriend with children who had Nick Jr. on the entire time I visited: I judged you.
Parent at the park who did not pack an organic, free-range,
all-food-groups-represented, no-dessert lunch complete with sandwiches
cut in cute little shapes, who instead fed your children chicken
nuggets, cold French fries and (gasp) chocolate milk? I judged you.
Not out loud, of course. But internally, I was smug. I thought things like I would never have children who would behave in such a manner in public. Or, Doesn't she know the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no TV until the age of 2? Or, How can he possibly be feeding his children that crap? Has he not read any of Michael Pollan's books?
And what's worse, now that I'm a parent, I realize internal smugness
isn't so internal. As a parent, I know when I'm being judged. I can
sense it, even when nothing is being said out loud. It's in the look.
The double-take. The whisper to the companion they're with.
It's hard not to care about what other people think. But still, that
quiet judgment can sting, especially on days when my nerves are shot
and my children are in the worst moods -- a combination that often
leads to a situation judge-worthy by many.
But now, as a parent, I do things judge-worthy even when my children
are being good. Last Thursday is a perfect example: My son had a
physical therapy appointment a good half-hour drive away. On the way
back from the appointment both of my boys fell asleep -- we had eaten
lunch out, complete with Oreo cookies and Popsicles for dessert,
(judge!) after the appointment and it was close to their naptime. Of
course they fell asleep. My daughter, however, who has long given up
naps (!), was still awake.
When I pulled into my driveway, I had two choices: Wake up the boys
and deal with their short tempers having only slept for 25 minutes, or
sit in the van with them while they slept, bribing my daughter with
apps on my iPod and promises of candy once inside if she would just sit
and be quiet for a half hour longer (!). I chose option B without
blinking. And I left the car running (!) the entire time.
When the boys woke up, they were furious because of the cricks in
their necks -- thanks to the car seats we bought without good head
support to the side simply because they were cheaper (!). My daughter
was at her wit's end with being trapped in a car seat in a car that
wasn't going anywhere just because I wanted some peace and quiet (!). I
took everyone inside, plopped them on the couch, got out some gummy
candy and turned on "Little Bear." Two episodes. (!!)
Pre-children: I was going to cloth diaper.
Post-children: I did with my daughter, sort of, but not with my twins.
Pre-children: No TV until age of 2 and then only 30 minutes a day.
Post-children: Ha. (this my be my favorite line ever! -V)
Pre-children: Only organic, healthy, homemade food.
Post-children: My kids love Wendy's.
Pre-children: Public tantrums are unacceptable.
Post-children: Removal of the child is only sometimes doable; predicting when a tantrum is going to strike is often impossible.
Pre-children: Complaints about childrearing and its hardships
annoyed me (this was your choice, no?) and saddened me (parenthood is
supposed to be a wonderful thing!).
Post-children: Parenthood isn't wonderful 100 percent of the time.
My day-to-day routine isn't what I envisioned it would be four years
ago. Some of the things I imagine I'm judged on now are minor, others,
a little more major. But mostly they are simple faults and I now know
that they don't make me a bad parent. Sometimes I leave dirty diapers
on the changing table. My children's socks don't always match. I forget
to brush my daughter's hair. I use TV as a way to take a breather. I
utilize the fast-food drive-thru. I bribe. I'm sometimes too easy. I'm
sometimes too hard. I sometimes make the wrong decision, give the wrong
punishment, ask too much, ask too little. But within all these minor
and major faults is a singular truth: Most days, I'm doing the best I
can. And I honestly believe that's a truth that can be applied to most
parents: Most days, we're all doing the best we can.
Because here's another realization I've made as a parent: Everyone's
situation is different. There is a story behind every action and
inaction. Every parent has his or her own style. Every child has his or
her own temperament. What might be a stellar day for my family has been
a downright awful day for another -- perhaps the parent's job is in
danger, their parent is sick or they just had an argument with their
spouse. Perhaps the child is failing math or being bullied at school,
or the toddler hasn't slept for two weeks. This can explain the
short-temper in the grocery store or the harsher-than-necessary
punishment, or the lack of care when it comes to sweets or TV or a late
bedtime. We don't know, can't know, someone's entire story.
That said, I believe there are absolutes in parenting so yes,
sometimes, I still judge. (And I realize that the irony of this piece
is that in writing about not judging others, I'm now judging those who
judge.) I know that, for some, it's impossible to provide their
children with life's basic necessities: food, clothing and shelter. But
I believe we, as parents, must try. I believe we must do what we can to
protect our children from harm. I believe we should always love our
children, even when, especially when, we don't like their actions, we
disagree with their decisions or we're just having a difficult day with
But everything else is minor. Everything else doesn't matter. There
are children who are abused, who go to bed hungry, who have never known
love, and four years ago I was judging the toddler who watched an hour
of "Sesame Street"?
I feel bad about my pre-children smugness. I feel bad about the sting I
may have, unknowingly, made another feel. I feel bad -- and laugh out
loud at the thought -- that I, at one time, before I had children,
believed I knew better. Parenting is difficult enough -- there's no
reason we should judge one another, not for the things that don't
matter, anyway, and not for the things we see a snippet of rather than
knowing the full story.
So to the parents I knew four years ago, I'm sorry. I know better now.
Here's the link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kara-gebhart-uhl/mom-judgments_b_1319775.html?icid=maing-grid10|htmlws-main-bb|dl3|sec1_lnk3&pLid=141627