A while back CityMama wrote about mom judging. (I can’t find the post. We might want to think about a way to search the archive now that we are so prolific). I remembering writing some comment that was like “I don’t believe this is really a thing” (which is judgy and invalidating in and of itself—I can see that now). I was trying to make the point that my group of mom (and a few dad) friends are very welcoming and supportive even though we are all pretty different. I thought mom judging didn’t really exist because I hadn’t really experienced it.
Until this spring when I was judged online and in a public place by strangers. In each instance I didn’t know the mom and I think that detail paved the path for acceptable judgment.
The first offense happened online. I saw a family member post a water bead Pinterest craft. Since Calvin spend two days in the hospital to the tune of $12,000 I have been on a bit of a crusade against water beads.
This is what I wrote:
“I usually don’t put cautions on blast, but Cal spent 2 days in the hospital last month after eating these water beads. They really aren’t safe for kids. They look like food and since they absorb water they grow and grow if ingested. Although technically ‘non-toxic” they can cause obstructions that can require surgery. If you want a tactile bead try edible tapioca pearls instead. PSA over.”
Then a person I didn’t know replied:
“It is all about knowing your kid. If you have a kids that is still in the phase of eating everything then you are right this isn’t a good choice. You have to know your kid and make a choice from that information.”
She called my kid getting extremely ill “my choice.” Twice. I would never say this to a friend. Or to someone’s face. And that should be the rule of thumb. I fumed about this for days. I even wrote a reply all about being less condescending, and about how sharing information is the only way we can learn to be good mothers, but I never sent it because ultimately I don’t know this person and getting into online fights is a bad move for me. But it still makes me made because I felt called out and judged by a stranger who was able to throw their shade for the exact reason I felt forced to hold my tongue: we don’t know each other.
A few weeks later we were swimming at the pool. Both kids were in the water and I was keeping an eye on Ellis who can be on his own with a swimmy and Calivn who can’t. It was a zero entry pool and Cal stumbled in 18 inches of water. His face went under water and while I took the two steps over to him a nearer mom picked him up out of the water. He was startled, but not drowning. I was grateful for the village working the way it should in a public space. My kid trip in water, you picked him up. Thank you. I would have done the same. What I never would have done was return to my pod of mom friends and start talking about the other mom while pointing. I was stunned. Again a stranger did what you would never do to a friend. Talk about them and point at them. I felt embarrassed and judged. It really felt like an indictment on my mothering.
So here is my plea. It is time to start treating all moms like we are friends. If you wouldn’t say whatever you are tempted to say to your friends face, then don’t say it. A revision of the golden rule that we need if this broader village is going to function in friendship instead of hostile judgment.