This might sound crazy, but save for a time or two, I don’t think I’ve been directly judged by another mom. Or at least not vocally.
I’m sure there have been plenty of times when someone saw me doing something and thought in their heads I was a lunatic, but I honestly can’t think of a time when a fellow parent has approached me in a public setting (not online, that’s a different story) singled me out, and said something that made me question if I was a good parent.
For the most part, fellow parents are actually really supportive. Even the ones who at first glance look like they would judge me and my dirty mom hair, if the ice is broken, we typically end up having a lot in common. I’m not saying judgmental parents aren’t out there, but for me, they aren’t the source of my parenting insecurities and mom guilt.
Nope. That’d be my kids.
For however willing kids are to offer up a slobbery kiss and sticky-handed hug, they are even more ready to inform me of their deep displeasure at whatever atrocity I’ve just committed (PANTS? Who even wears pants, mom, you loser!). And fellow parents, regardless of their look, are often more than willing to open up and agree: Kids can really be jerks.
As it turns out, kids are self-centered, demanding, impatient, unreasonable, and loud little shits. They are terrible listeners, and bold boundary testers. They have no filter and generally can’t read social cues. If an adult ever acted that way, they would be labeled as a world-class asshole, and avoided at all costs. But kids are usually just called cute.
Kids don’t appreciate how much work you put into making sure they are fed, clothed, safe, and happy. They don’t realize the cost providing these things comes at. They don’t care how tired you are, or lonely you feel. On a near-daily basis, they find ways to make you question if you’re doing this right, because surely if you were, they wouldn’t be acting this way. Right?!
Yes, they love you, but it’s a very one-sided love at this stage.
Rather than finding competition and judgement from other parents, more often than not I’ve found solidarity in knowing I’m not alone in my feelings. Everyone’s kid can be a little jerk. Everyone worries they are doing it wrong. Everyone loves their kid, but also wonders if somehow they will screw this up so badly, they will raise someone who doesn’t give a waive of thanks when they are merging into traffic.
(Okay, that might just be me.)
I know mom-shaming and mom-judging is real, but I think the real culprit behind mom guilt is often our own kids who, through the process of growing up and learning how not to be little jerk, treat us pretty terribly.
To be clear, I’m not blaming them, but rather thinking instead of taking out our frustration on fellow moms who are going through the same thing, maybe we can open up, admit our kids are sometimes unbearable jerks, and help support each other while we wait for them to be old enough to vocalize their sincere thanks. Which, if I’m being honest, might take 30 years.
So cheers, fellow parents. This is hard. Kids are jerks. That doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong. It just means you’re paying attention.