POV

The Mom’s Code – Judging Moms: Unqualified Judges (Part Four of Five)

Generally, in life you apply for and interview to get a job. But not the job of mom. I’m motivated to the degree I’d lay down my life without blinking. I always show up and work overtime constantly. My pay is a smile, a hug or a motivated child. The benefits I request are minimal—rinsing off every day and getting to wash my hair (and dry it) every once in a while. A Mother’s Day card with silly, loving and misspelled words. In short, I’m a superstar who works for affection. But somehow we’ve ended up with an incredible workforce of qualified moms.

Tenet 6: Check your “Judgeyness” at the door

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Most moms are like me. We don’t like to be judged. I take my job seriously. Sometimes when other moms judge me, it’s like being in a family business where the least qualified relative writes and enforces the workplace rules.

Bottom line there is too much judging going on. Some of my friends shared their stories. Note I will have a whole separate blog dedicated to mothers-in-law as I had too many stories to fit into this section!

Yune, it bothers me to be judgedI say to my daughter sometimes, “Why do you care what he/she thinks?” I mean it when I say it to my daughter, yet if someone criticizes my parenting, I feel very defensive and want to prove that person wrong. Why do I care what people think? And since I do care, I can’t help nagging my daughter about her behavior in a public space. I know kids can make a scene, but I always pray it won’t happen in front of others. Have you ever seen the monkey that eats all the bugs off the baby monkey, carefully picking at every bug? I feel like I pick all her imperfections off like a mother monkey. Only she doesn’t appreciate the bug removal. She shrugs her shoulders and tries to get me off.

Tenet 7: Nourish your soul with Girls Night Outs

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Joanna, living with a big mistakeMy friend was driving home after our mom group had salad and wine at a local diner with our kids. She was pulled over for going 35 mph in a 25 mph zone and she admitted she had a glass of wine. She failed the breathalyzer and the police took her keys and told her to have someone come and get her kids. She got dropped off by the squad car. She ended up in the town paper and her license was suspended for 30 days. The gossip amongst the moms was ugly. Even my husband said, “Her poor husband. How embarrassing for him at work.” What? Her poor husband, how about poor her? Then I imagined a police officer with a narcotics dog going through my mailbox and finding the envelope of pot my brother once mailed me. A respected third grade teacher being hauled off in cuffs! Our girls crew have taken ubers and lyfts for our nights out ever since. And we don’t judge other moms until we know the whole story!

Lanie, please look in the mirrorDo you know a mom who claims, “I don’t judge anyone. I try to stay away from all that. I’m not into all that overparenting. I’m really laid back and apply no pressure whatsoever. And so on.” But then she proceeds to knock all the other moms, their practices, and their kids! And her kids are the most uptight and over-scheduled of all the kids I know. I’m not sure if she’s clueless or just thinks we don’t notice.

Brooke, some of my best friends are judgyMy friend Lanie makes proclamations about many things. She says she can never trust three kinds of moms—ones who don’t drink, ones who are anti-pets, and ones with bumper stickers on their cars (especially ones that say ‘my kid is an honors student’ when the child is in third grade). She has very well developed arguments for the three. She swears dogs can sense if someone is a good person or not and has countless examples of when her dog has growled at a questionable character (sometimes it’s a child, who she then refers to as a ‘bad seed’). She feels anyone who won’t share a glass of wine is boring, not willing to be open and therefore untrustworthy. She labels these countless moms as uptight and competitive. She also swears bumper sticker people are secretly angry, but use their ‘cause’ to look like a Good Samaritan of some kind. So she is very judgy. She is also very smart. She has an MBA from University of Chicago although she chooses to be a yoga instructor. I don’t always agree with her, but she is so funny that my stomach hurts after most of our conversations. She can dish it out and she can take it. Sometimes though, she chooses the wrong people to share her opinions with. People who don’t understand her sense of humor. Or, worse, teetotal moms with pet allergies and an array of bumper stickers. It’s easy to cross the line to judgy-ness.

Tenet 5: Stand up to “Mom Tormentors”

Louisa, I’m just being carefulMy kids were lobbying hard for a dog and my husband chimed in (mainly to rile me up). I know I will end up taking care of the dog and I’m not even a dog person. A friend of mine told me over time most owners come to resemble their dogs. She pointed to the character Jay in Modern Family and how he was coming to resemble Stella the bulldog (and that’s only a TV pet!) I had to think long and hard about what kind of dog would be right. My kids really wanted a Bulldog they would name Snorty or a German Shepard named Ralph. Out of the question!!! I can’t start to resemble a chubby bulldog or a German Gestapo. So, I agreed to a dog only if it was cute and tiny. We ended up with a Malte-poo named Bella. She’s adorable and the kids love her! My husband, not so much! But I don’t feel bad as 90% of taking care of Bella is on me. As a tiny bit of revenge, I make my husband walk Bella around the neighborhood with a pink ribbon tied on her cute little head! And I let her wander freely into his poker nights and listen to his friends tease him!

Steph, we have bad Barbie dolls and Disney movies at our houseMy friend Amy is all about girl power. Her #1 toy foe is Barbie. She is against everything a Barbie stands for. Her little girl was never very interested so it wasn’t an issue. Then her little boy developed an insatiable urge to play with Barbie dolls. At every play date at our house, Connor makes a beeline to the Barbie dolls. His mom gives him a lecture right in front of me about how playing with Barbie sends a bad message to girls. She glances my way as if I’m ruining her child by owning Barbie dolls. My kids look up at me, confused and I plaster a smile on my face. She is also anti-Disney, believing the movies are violent and give kids nightmares. My kids love to have movie nights with Disney movies and watch them over and over. Their current favorites are Mulan, Frozen, Kung Fu Panda, Moana, and Lion King. Of course, toy weapons are also on the taboo list and all her daughter wants to do is play with our plastic swords. So play dates with her kids are challenging. She’s a great mom and her kids are sweet. I just wish she’d ease up with the opinions.

It’s hard not to judge, but I’m working on itI make assumptions sometimes; we all do. When my neighbor had a puffy face, I guessed she had a little work done. Turned out she had her wisdom teeth out. I apologized profusely but she didn’t speak to me for a month.

Tenet 1: Stop the Mama Drama

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After becoming a mom and understanding the pounding nature of the job every day (and the strong little willful beings that are our children), I’ve developed natural filters. For example, I wouldn’t say, ‘the way your daughter dresses is an absolute crime. What were you, and she, thinking?’ I don’t offer parenting advice unless it is asked for, or, part of a wider discussion over wine at a mom dinner. I want and value advice on everything to do with my children – phones/electronics/toys usage, movies, eating, bedtimes, or any other topic. But if I’m being honest, I want it when I ask for it or are open to it; that is not usually mid-crisis when I’m stressed out and doing my best to keep from going stark raving mad.

I’m trying to be less hypersensitive to advice too; the exception is helpful hints from my beloved about how I could be more organized so things could be smoother and quieter for him when he comes home. For the most part, I take the constructive parts and don’t flinch and feel like my parenting is being called into question.

What do other moms experiences with being judged? Send them to me and I’ll post them.