MamaBlogger365 – Before you Judge a Mom, Walk a Mile in her Shoes by Kate Fineske

So, I had a “mothering epiphany” the other day… bear with me as I explain.

That Feeling

Do you know that feeling that you get when (let’s say) you finally have all your kids inside your van at the parking lot of the mall, you are about to leave for home and you suddenly think, “Where’s my purse?!”

You know, the same purse that has more than $100 cash in it, your photo I.D. and ALL of your credit cards???

For an instant (that feels like a lifetime) you can’t move from the panic. Next, you start frantically checking everything in eyesight that could possibly be hiding the purse. And then…

RELIEF…

You catch a glimpse of your purse between the baby’s car seat and car door!

Have you had this feeling before?

Now, multiply this feeling times 100 and add a moment for your heart to stop beating… and THIS is the feeling I get when I think I have lost my child in a crowd. It is the worst. Feeling. EVER!

The Epiphany

Photo © 2008 Dan Ox, http://www.flickr.com/people/41132143@N00 | more: http://www.flickr.com/photos/41132143@N00/2794348247 (via: Wylio | http:/wylio.com)

The other day I was involved in a quick discussion about the difficulties of taking vacations with small children in tow. Watching three young children as you are visiting different “supposedly” family-friendly vacation destinations can be exhausting! Theme parks, water parks, even beaches all equal crowded areas in which kids could get “misplaced.

In this seemingly short conversation among moms about vacationing with kids, I had my own “ah-ha” (as Oprah Winfrey would call it!) moment. For the first time, I could understand the concept of a “child leash”… I KNOW, you’re probably thinking “huh?”… but let me explain.

Before I had kids, I remember being at the mall and seeing a mom with her two kids attached to her by a leash! I remember thinking “How COULD that mother walk around with her children leashed to her like animals?”

Even as a new mom, this concept of a child-leash just didn’t make sense to me. But, during this one conversation about vacationing with kids — being now at a point in my life where I was a mother of three children, all of various young ages — for the first time, I could see and understand the use of this seemingly ridiculous parent accessory in relation to the PANIC a mother feels when she momentary loses sight of her child in a crowded area.

Trusting your Own Judgment

I’ve done it, we’ve all done it probably… made a judgment on another mom’s actions. Looking back, I most certainly passed judgment towards that mom in the mall with her children on a “leash.”

Every parenting decision I have to make is an ongoing struggle. And, as much as I know I shouldn’t, I often wonder what others think of my decisions. In an ideal world, other mothers — though they may not see eye to eye with my choices — would, at minimum, respect my decisions. I am continually reminding myself to respect other mothers’ choices, because this is how I hope these “other mothers” deal with my own decisions as a parent.

For instance, this year, my 8-year-old daughter has been invited to an abundance of slumber parties. After much discussion, my husband and I finally decided that we were not yet ready, nor did we think our daughter was ready, for slumber parties. Our compromise was allowing her to go to these parties and then picking her up at a designated time to sleep at home. No matter how confident we felt in this decision, as a mom, it was still very hard for me to feel confident when explaining this decision to other parents, all of whom had made a different decision.

Decisions are Personal

Whether you are judging others, or you are being the one judged, making a choice against the “general consensus” can make everyone feel self-conscious. Each mom involved, wonders which decision is the correct one and whether she made a good choice. I find it is important for me to remember that decisions are personal. I have to learn to trust my own judgment and intuition while also remembering that my solution may not be the only reasonable and good solution.

Never Say Never

If there is anything that I have learned from my insignificantly small time as a parent, it is to never say never. Every parenting decision I make comes with a small cloud of doubt that it could be the wrong decision. There is always a “clause” attached to my choices that gives me the right to “change my mind.” Nevertheless, hard decisions have to be made everyday…

So, next time I start to judge another mother, I want to remember the “child-leash” scenario… because you can’t possibly know what another mother is going through, what decisions she needs to make, and what led her to her decisions, until you walk a mile in her shoes.

How do you feel when others judge your decisions as a mom? Do you ever second guess your choices? What are some difficult choices you had to make that went against the “norm” for your child? Please comment below and share your experiences!

This post has been contributed on behalf of The National Association of Mothers Centers, whose mission is to create a community of women, who through mutual support and public advocacy, explore, enrich and value the maternal experience.

The post author, Kate Fineske, currently is a staff member with the National Association of Mothers’ Centers where she maintains and provides the content to the Mothers Central Blog – the Parenting Blog of the NAMC. She is also responsible for helping the NAMC work to build stronger connections and support with the local Mothers’ Center Chapters nationally.

Kate is a longtime member of the National Association of Mothers’ Centers through her local chapter of the Mothers’ Center of Greater Toledo in Ohio. She and her husband are busy raising 3 children ages 1-8. Kate’s professional background is as a graphic designer in the creative and education industry. Since 2005, she has been using her professional skills by actively volunteering with the Mothers’ Center of Greater Toledo in various leadership positions. She also blogs personally at http://www.onthegomomma.net.

You can connect with Kate via Twitter (@katefineske) and/or also connect with the NAMC via twitter (@MothersCenters) or Facebook.

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All photos courtesy Kate Fineske except middle image; middle photo © 2008 Dan Ox | more info (via: Wylio)

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