Back when I was a brand new mom, or heck, even before I had kids, I was pretty judgy of other moms. I admit, it's easy to see someone loading their children up on candy or strapping them into a kid leash and say to yourself, "I'd never do that."
Granted, there are some things that I will never, ever not judge; Coca Cola in a baby bottle will make me cringe every single time.
But overall, I've realized that parenting context is everything, which is why I bite my tongue way more than I ever did before.
Maybe it's because I have four kids now and keeping up this idea of perfection is completely impossible. As in, I'd never be able to physically survive if I didn't make some accommodations.
That means sometimes they watch videos or play games in the car. Sometimes I give them candy that I have yet to pay for at the grocery store so I can make it through my shopping trip.
But these days, I'm way less judgmental of what other parents choose to do with their kids. Well, so long as they're not harming them.
I realize that many of us -- maybe even most of us -- have a pretty good reason why we make the choices we do. And a lot of times, it's completely on the fly, out of survival mode or desperation.
I'm pretty sure parents don't necessarily plan to ply our kids with chocolate while we're out and about, but if it means we can make it through that errand without a complete meltdown, well, then we do what we have to do.
Other times, you're only seeing a small snippet of the entire situation, like today when I carried my 5-year-old into preschool.
I know I got a couple of looks from the other moms considering she's pretty big now and can certainly walk on her very own.
But she's also my third child and had to grow up quickly, with an older brother only 20 months before her and a younger sister almost exactly two years younger than her.
So sometimes, I give her extra special attention. I baby her. Because she never really got a chance to be babied when she was little.
I actually think it's healthy for her. And for me too.
Of course, it looks like I'm completely spoiling my big girl, who is walking into a place where she's learning how to be completely independent. And I know that we're often trying to get our big kids to do more things on their own.
But I think if those moms knew the context, they'd understand. Maybe they'd even try it themselves.
It's situations like those and the many others I encounter with other parents on an everyday basis that really makes me rethink judging.
Sure, if your kid takes a crack at my kid on the playground, I'm not going to be completely thrilled. Though I know we all have bad days, kids included.
And I don't love seeing people out at grocery shopping with their kids at 11 p.m., but I could see where they might have to.
(Okay, that's a bit of a stretch. I am only human, after all!)
Either way, I have really learned to keep my mouth shut. Not just my outside voice, but the one inside my head. If anything, I can use that energy for other things. Like minding my own kids. And business.
Do you judge other moms? C'mon, admit it.
Image via kryziz/Flickr