Monday, March 1, 2010

Before I was a mother, I was a judge

I have a confession to make. Before I was a mother, I used to judge other mothers. In the grocery store. At the school where I taught. At the movie theater and the mall. Even at church. I think you know what I'm talking about. It's the teacher's lounge at lunch time and the honorable judge Miss Know It All is presiding. It's the impulse-buy part of the checkout line at Walmart and yet another kid is throwing a hissy fit, and again, Miss Know It All pounds her inner gavel. A worn out co-worker has the utter gall to complain just a little about her toddler and Her Smugness, Miss Know It All thinks, "She should just be grateful for her children." A very young child is seen eating junk food in public and Know It All sentences the whole family to obesity and bad behaviour. (By the way, after typing the words Know It All several times in this post, I thought I might shorten it to an acronym. But that made it Miss KIA which usually means "killed in action.")
But you know what? That's exactly what needed to happen to MissKnow It All--she needed to be killed in action. And that's pretty much what did happen. First act of war on smug KIA: she got pregnant. Forget about judging anyone for laziness, poor food choices, and mood swings. KIA herself was the one who would stop by Subway on her way home from work and eat a six-inch sub as a snack(!!!!), then take a three-hour nap before dinner, cry like a baby for no apparant reason, apologize to her husband and go back to seven o'clock!
Second act of war on smug KIA: she had the baby. Now everyone had every reason to believe that KIA knew everything about babies and children. After all, hadn't she been the one to turn her nose up at the people who didn't keep their babies clean and well groomed and constantly immersed in age-appropriate literature? But suddenly, KIA realized that she had never ever ever ever changed a baby boy's diaper (!), that she had never ever ever given a baby a bath or gotten one dressed. She had certainly never tried to clip a baby's finger nails. And even though she had gone to breastfeeding class (twice!), once the baby was in her arms, she had no idea how to get him latched on. KIA didn't even know how to get out of her bed without someone helping her up (it wasn't until later that other c-section survivors told her she should have slept in the recliner to help push herself up).
Third act of war on smug KIA: she became the kind of mother who took her baby to the movies with her, who didn't send him to the church nursery even if he cried (this heathenish woman would rather miss a large part of the sermon than hand her baby over to the church nursery, for shame!), who stayed in her pajamas until just before noon most days, who didn't establish a bedtime schedule for her child until he was a year old (I really am kind of ashamed of that), who failed to take her child to the dentist the minute his first tooth appeared, who resorted to biting her child's fingernails off when he was nursing because it was easier than clipping them, who actually started taking his clothes off for mealtimes so she wouldn't have as much laundry to do, and many other offenses, I'm sure.
KIA has been killed in action. She does not judge women at the grocery store because she knows she will be there someday. Some day, not too far away, her own precious boy will surely be enticed by the impulse-buy items that are strategically placed by marketers to entice children! She may have to drag him out to the car and spank him. She may have to ignore a tantrem so that she can get the groceries she needs to get for dinner. She may even give in and buy a candy bar if he says please and smiles real sweet. After all, last week she gave him a sip of her punch at a baby shower because she wanted to put off nursing him until she got home. So far he shows no signs of obesity. She has already done so many things she said she'd never do that she is swearing off saying she'll never do anything. Here's a short list of her self-inflicted curses so far:
"I will never take a baby to the movies. It is rude and irresponsible." 3 months old-Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince; 4 months old-The Proposal
"I can't believe some women nurse their babies in public without a cover! Awkward!!!" 2 months old-Olive Garden, can't find Hooter Hider, starving baby, blanket that won't stay over flailing baby limbs. Discreet as possible=still not very.
"I will not allow my child to eat snacks in the car. That's just a bad habit and makes the car/carseat trashy looking." Christmas-16 hour drive to Illinois-Cheerios, Graduates Puffs, Yogurt Bites, Ritz Crackers. Since Christmas-all of the above. Car=trashy looking. Oh, well.
"I will make sure my baby is not a mama's boy so that when he is in Kindergarten, he won't cry like a baby." Times I have left him in the church nursery=ZERO; Times I have left him in the Moppets nursery=2. Age at which I finally made him start putting himself to sleep=12 months! Age at which he starts taking naps on his own (meaning without me holding him)=maybe next week?

This post is already way longer than I meant for it to be. It was triggered by someone close to me spouting some harsh judgements on another woman who just had a baby. Here's the thing--STOP JUDGING! First of all, if you don't have kids, you have no idea what you're talking about. Even if you're a teacher. Even if you've read Dr. Dobson. Secondly, if you do have kids, you don't have that person's kids or her husband or her exact situation, so you have no idea what you're talking about. Thirdly, there's something in the Bible about the measure you use on others is the measure that will be used on you. So, PRAY GRACE ON EVERY WOMAN YOU SEE!!!!!!!!

End of rant. Probably not the end of confessions.


The Chaney's said...

I've been guilty of being a judge myself in the past. Being a mother (while it's the best job in the world) is hard enough as it is without people criticizing your every decision. I for one though, think you are a fabulous Mommy and that Benjamin is one lucky little boy!

Carla Hutchins said...

I loved your blog post so much I read it to Chad! I always say I want to wait to have kids because I'm not ready, because I don't know enough. Truth is, I'll never know it all. Not for the first, not for the second, not for the...third?? I think you are an amazing mother Kristi! I know from stories told that being a mother is one of the hardest jobs out there!

Olivia said...

You are SO funny and honest. I find myself struggling as well with thoughts of criticism. It stems from my fear, yet it is no doubt something I want to encourage myself to not do. I always have to remind myself that everyone is at a different place in what God is doing in their lives. I do not know what that tiny moment I saw them is in the huge picture of what the Lord is creating. I know for sure I have probably made people wonder who I am if they simply took a snap shot of me! I have probably given people laughs! Your son is precious! It sounds like you are a great mom who has realized that things don't have to be perfect, even when we dream and play it over in our heads of how we think it will be! Many blessings to you all.