Less Judging, More Loving

Thursday, April 6, 2017

The running joke of parenthood is that you know how to raise a child perfectly until you have one of your own.

You probably know someone like that. All moms do. Heck, I was that person! Do you want to know the saddest part? I don't know how its even possible, but after I had my first baby my attitude about perfect parenting actually got worse. I was absolutely delusional that I knew how to be the perfect parent.

I exclusively pumped because I believed in breast milk. I organized my house in Montessori style so my baby could be raised in a "perfect" environment. I cloth diapered. I researched child development and parenting theories to make sure I was doing it perfectly. I bought all the right toys, fed all the right food, said all the right things. I vaccinated. I did play dates and library trips and baby singing class. I did everything right.

What's wrong with that?

Your question is totally valid! None of those things are inherently wrong. Some of those things are really awesome and backed by research and science. Me doing those things was not the problem. The real issue was my attitude about myself and others. I thought, because I was doing these "perfect" things, I was better than moms who weren't. And even though my mouth would say the words,

"Its okay, you're doing the best you can!"
"I know you're making the right decision for your family!"
"Don't worry about the haters, you do you!"

my brain would think the opposite.

"You're not trying hard enough."
"You're not making a good choice."
"You doing you is dumb, do it the right way."

Naturally, doing it the right way was always my way, because I researched everything and knew the perfect answer to everyone's problems. A lot of those feelings came from my OCD, which I was not aware of at the time, but it doesn't excuse the way I felt I knew better. This secret, inward judgement went on for years, right up until my second baby was born.

I used to think:

I could never have a baby in a birth center.

After a strange series of unfortunate events, I had no choice BUT to deliver my second baby at a birth center. The whole experience turned out to be amazing and overwhelmingly positive, but that did not change the fact that it challenged my beliefs about what a "proper birth" looked like.

I could never NOT circumcise my sons.

Before my son was born, I was strongly pro-circumcision. But after, I immediately doubted those convictions. Every time I looked down at his innocent face, his smile, his wide and trusting eyes, I felt that I could not submit him to such a procedure. For the days following birth, I wrestled with my decision. At the doctor's office, I cried tears of relief upon hearing that my little guy had some health concerns that prevented circumcision. I understand now why some parents choose not to. I know their struggle and pain.

People who don't vaccinate are uninformed and irresponsible.

While I still maintain my pro-vaccination stance, I no longer judge moms who don't give their kids shots. Like, seriously, is there ever really a "win" to that argument? Do I shoot my kid up with a chemical cocktail or do I take the risk of them contracting/spreading a serious illness? There will always be a loser in the vaccination debate. In the end, I can't claim to know what is the best choice for each family.

How to be less judgin' and more lovin'

These realizations all happened shortly after my second baby was born, and it has completely transformed how I relate to other moms. It finally clicked for me that I don't actually know anything about other people or their circumstances. I decided that if I was aware, if I knew their stories and understood the details of their life, I would be a lot less judgmental. 

This is a huge reason why I am starting a series called "Mother Stories" on the blog. I will occasionally feature stories submitted by other moms who courageously share their challenges, triumphs, and encouragement for others. I feel this is an incredible chance to provide valuable insight into the inner life of moms that doesn't often get talked about. Vulnerability and its accompanying empathy are powerful forces for change.

So, if you have a story to share about motherhood I want to hear it! I put out a similar call on my personal Facebook page:

"I feel that sharing stories is a very powerful way to encourage and support others in life's journey. Since I started blogging forever ago, I've been wanting to share stories from other moms about their unique experiences in motherhood. So if you have a message or story that you want to share with others, I want to hear from you. You can write it yourself or I can do it interview style if that's easier. I'd love to hear about any of these topics: postpartum depression/anxiety, mental illness, infertility, adoption, chronic illness (yours or your child's), parenting children with special needs, overcoming trauma, mothering through hardship such as job loss or medical school, divorce, death. You know, like, all the fun stuff. Story sharing is a sacred calling and I want to give a platform for it. This "story search" has no expiration date - as long as I am writing the blog I will be lookin' for stories to share."
I can't write it any better than that. So if you're feeling brave and ready to share, shoot me an email at channing.parker@wholeheartmom.com.

What do you think, mama? What kind of stories would you like to hear about? Would you ever consider sharing yours? Tell me in the comments!
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