The Trouble With Being A Judgemental B-

-itch before I had kids was that I totally screwed myself when it comes to the standards I hold myself to as a parent.

When I am a mom…

I will NEVER let myself wander around Target with crying kids in my shopping cart.

I will NEVER give those kids food while they’re in the cart before I pay for it. What the hell kind of message does THAT send? Freaking take the damn screaming kids home and give them food you already paid for. GAH.

I will NEVER let my kid run in the mall. Why can’t kids just WALK and HOLD HANDS with their parents? How HARD IS THAT?

I will NEVER let my kid have a tantrum in public. Dude, take them HOME.

I will NEVER have my kid out after 7:30, when they should be IN BED. It’s called BEDTIME, folks.

I will NEVER let my kids wear ugly character shirts. I don’t care how much they ask for them. I don’t have to buy them. End of story.

I will NEVER let my kids out in public with food on their faces and clothes. Hello?? Are you incapable of keeping your kids clean?

I will NEVER let my kids cause a scene of any sort, anywhere, in front of anyone like me who might disapprove.

Add to that hundreds more judgemental, admittedly bitchy thoughts I had before I became a mom.

Now, I find myself always worrying about what other people are thinking of me as a mom, of my children, of how we all behave in public. I find myself hovering over my kid more than I should just to make sure he’s not a nuisance to any and all other people around him. I’m constantly correcting my 3 year old’s behavior, quick to scold him, always on the defensive. I’m missing the positive moments when we’re out because I’m too wrapped up in keeping him from pissing the old me off.

It’s not even about reactions I’ve received from others. Sure, there have been a few disapproving looks in my years as a mother, but not nearly enough to justify my constant anxiety over these things. No, it all stems from me… the old me.

I held other parents to such high standards before I became a mother, that I now find myself always struggling to live up to them.

I’m done.

Yes, I get that an effort needs to be made to teach my children manners and what is and isn’t socially acceptable, but there also needs to be moments of learning allowed. I can’t just preach all of life’s lessons to my kids and expect them to get it. They have to LIVE them and make MISTAKES. Many of those mistakes will have to happen in front of others who may disapprove and may judge. I need to be okay with that.

So, this is me telling the old me to fuck off.

Old Me, you would have been a terrible mother, so STFU.

Whew. That felt good. What would you tell the old you?

Leyna is 8 months old and Kendall is 3 years 4 months old, which is how long it took me to get the courage to tell the old me to STFU. It’s silly that it took so long.

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  1. I’d tell myself to STOP FUCKING WORRYING. And being judgmental. And haughty. And smug. And a know-it-all. I should probably say that to myself now too. Woops 😉

  2. I learned REALLY fast to tell my old self to eff off. When you have infant twins and you’re in target and both are crying and you’re struggling to get a baby carrier on so you can hold at least one of them while they wail you learn VERY quickly to not give a shit what people think. I mean hell, they’re only a year and a half and I could care less what people think when we’re out. My HUSBAND though, well, he has some learning to do. He starts to get all flustered when they start making any kind of noise in public or at a restaurant. They’re kids. Whatever. If they are going to happy squeal while they’re eating,

    Anyways. Great post. It’s good when you reach that point.

  3. This is perfect. I had some of those same thoughts before I was a mother. I have friends who say these things and I know they just won’t “get it” until they become a mother so I just smile. They’ll find out one day that being a parent 24/7 isn’t easy. ;] I don’t want to be harping on my daughter every second on the day so sometimes I let the little things that might annoy people slide. Oh well. =]

  4. I’m learning to tell my old self the same thing. Yes, I get looks from people in the grocery store when I let my toddler walk instead of putting him in the cart and he runs down the aisle ahead of me. I hate feeling like I have to keep him contained everywhere we go just so we don’t inconvenience someone else. I just told my husband the other day that I’m learning not to care what other people think because I know our kids are good, well behaved kids (for the most part, haha!). It’s tough to relax about it though. We’re all doing the best we can! 🙂

  5. I’m learning some of the same things and yesterday I told my old self that I was wrong about mommy friends. That once I met other moms at playgroups I would magically bond with them because you know they had kids and I had kids, but turns out , it doesnt’ work like that. Its hard to find other moms that think like you and don’t judge your kids and your snack choices. Okay….maybe that was off topic. But it was a great post and I have had all those bitchy thoughts about other people’s kids before I had my own. Now I know better

  6. Yep. I definitely thought some of the same things before kids. Even when I had kids the first ones were unusually well behaved (or so my friends say), so my expectations were out of whack for my very normal 3 yo. Always learning with this parenting gig.

  7. Wow, that is exactly me. But my kids are 7 and 6 and I still haven’t told the old me off. I need to take a lesson from you and finally do it. Stop beating myself up for not living up to those old, stupid, judgmental thoughts I had.

  8. I will never forget the time I was at Target with my oldest and he was totally losing it because he didn’t want to be in the shopping cart. I was in the back corner of the store tring my best to get him to calm down with my husband. Some dude walks by and says “God, shut that kid up.” My mouth dropped and I was in utter shock. Needless to say, after little man had calmed it down, I was seething the entire rest of the shopping trip on the hunt for the guy just to tell him off. Luckily, I didn’t find him.

    It took me while to not care so much about what other people think about my kids when we are out because I know that I’m doing what’s best for our family. That guy in Target may someday have kids of his own losing their schmidt in public and will hopefully realize what a tool he had been to me.

    • NO. WAY. Oh, I would have been irate. How many times have you told that guy off in the shower since? 🙂 That’s me. I’m always stunned in the moment, and then I come up with THE best comeback in the shower the next day.

  9. Yep Yep Yep. I feel you. I used to be the same way as a non-mom. I’d get annoyed at how people would allow their children to run a muck all over stores or have screaming babies in restaurants. Then I had a kid and became a bit more laid back regarding that. While I still don’t believe kids should roam free in restaurants.or scream at the top of their lungs I am more understanding of the parents that are out trying to enjoy an evening out with the family and trying to control their kid (something just bugs me about the parents that enjoy their meals while their kids are screaming and parents dont give a flying rats ass).

    A few months ago we went out as a family and friends to a restaurant. It was slightly higher end. We called ahead of time to ask if it was “kid friendly”. We mentioned that D was 1 year old and that there would be another 1 and 3 year old. They said “Sure not a problem.” We get there and there are NO high chairs…its okay we made do with the stroller. While D was not screaming non stop she would occasionally let out a little squeal of delight. The waiter/owner continued to come up to the table asking “Is everything alright, is there anything we can get for your daughter? Would she maybe likesome fresh fruit or milk?” Seems like amazing service right? Well what he wasn’t saying was “…to shut her up”. I started to get annoyed. I told my husband that its time to leave. I’m sick of the owner asking my child to shut up. We were paying customers just like anyone else. In fact our table of 4 adults and 3 kids spent TWICE as much as a table of 4 adults next to us….

    While I agree that one of the kids we were with continued to get up from the table and try to make his way to the door was annoying (problem could have been avoided by having high chairs/booster chair) it was no reason to make US feel uncomfortable about the kids being there. Finally when the owner came up to us one last time he said “I’m sorry but the other customers are starting to complain about the kids…” well guess what? I DON’T care…

    We left. I called the other owner and complained. I also swore I wouldn’t take my business there again.

    Point is: It’s hard to control our judgmental bitches until we are in that position and its okay to still be the old you that just sort of makes compromises!

  10. I need to bookmark this post and come back to it monthly. I’ve said every.single.thing that you did and I still find myself saying some of these things (in my head). Sure I’ve got ALL the mothering answers now that I have a 2 month old. /sarcasm I seriously deserve to have a toddler who does nothing but have public meltdowns on a daily basis.

  11. You are so spot on! I totally get you about riding your 3 year old because of what people might think or something. It sucks. And I totally judged everyone who didn’t do everything exactly like me when I had one baby… now I realize that if everyone is happy and healthy – WHO CARES??

  12. Aack! I pictured mySELF hovering over my kids in an attempt to make them ‘picture perfect’ to everyone else. Who am I KIDDING? I can’t even get them to stand still in a picture anyway…

    Funny, cause we toss off cute quotes like “…they’re only young once!” or “…we’re making memories” when we aren’t really paying attention. I want my kids to be well behaved, but I want them to be kids too. Maybe getting out of my own ‘old me’ way will help…

  13. I saw a woman in the grocery store yesterday with a tantruming toddler. I was sans child and in my work attire and I could see her shame, I saw her assuming that I was judging her. I wanted to assure her that we’ve all been there (or have no room to judge) but the moment didn’t present.

    But then I do the same thing. When Gus is melting down I just assume everyone around me is a judgemental child-hater (or maybe mom-hater?). In reality there’s probably a lot more support out there than we realize. Like so many things, it’s all in our heads.

    (oh but if it’s not? I say eff ’em.)

  14. Thanks for this post, I so needed to hear this! I get so anxious in public that my son is going to offend a judgemental ‘old me’. Being a good mom is more important than being a perfectly polite stranger!

  15. Ha! I’m the old you right now! Wee! But not really. I have learned from mom friends never to say “never.” And honestly, the only thing I’m annoyed by when kids misbehave in public is parents not doing their best to handle the situation in some way. Any way they choose is pretty much okay with you, outside of abuse, of course. Even if it’s not working. Kids do what they do and that’s not anybody’s fault. The parents’ apathy is the only thing that gets me. And obviously, you care greatly about your kids. Don’t worry! You’re doing great!

  16. AMEN!! “I will NEVER put my child in one of those baby harnesses (leashes) just because I am too lazy to keep up with them.”

    I took 4 airplane rides to Baton Rouge, LA and back this weekend. You’d better believe I had a baby leash. And why? Not because I am too lazy to CHASE HER AROUND AN AIRPORT non-stop. But because my kid is a kid. And my kid runs off like kids tend to. And my kid intentionally does stuff that she knows she shouldn’t. And my kid will disappear in half a second.

    Hell yeah, I’m going to put her in a baby leash, so that I make sure she makes it back home in my arms. So that she doesn’t go crazy sitting in a stroller for 5 hours straight. I didn’t treat her like a dog, and pull on it to get her to come back, I simply used it as a method of keeping her close enough to grab her if I needed to.

    And I got judged. While Layli was busy happily waving to EVERYONE around her, I laughed and said to a gentleman, “I don’t know WHY she’s being so friendly this morning!” His response? “She probably just wants someone to talk to.”

    Yeah. Screw you, dude. I am almost positive he didn’t have any kids, and he doesn’t know a DAMN THING.

    Screw you, judgemental old self, and screw you judgemental people who think they can parent *my child* better than me, the mom, who KNOWS my own kid better than anyone.

    Thank you, girl. This is DEFINITELY a must-read.

  17. I love that we are not alone in this. There were so many things I swore I’d never do. I have to laugh at myself when I find myself doing them. I still tend to be a pretty judgemental person. I desperately need to lighten up and not hold myself to such high standards.

  18. Oh man, I love this! I think i’m more judgemental about others than I was toward myself….so rather than say, “I will never…”…..I was always like “why is that woman letting her kid do that?” or “why is that kid at target when it’s 9 at night?!”…..I guess I just assumed I would never do that….I still ask those questions and then I have to stop myself and be like….you know what?! being a mom is HARD and i’m sure that mom is doing the best she can right now….sometimes you just have to stop judging others and realize that they are trying….i hope people do that to me when my kid is acting up. :[

  19. One thing I believed before kids that I still find true: Target is where childten go to scream. It’s just something they are born knowing that they must do. I AM IN TARGET, THEREFORE I MUST SCREAM.

  20. I know exactly how you feel! The old me cripples the me now. All of the kid behaviors that used to annoy me & don’t let me son do for too long because I remember how I felt. But it certainly makes me more anxiety ridden then I need to be.

    BUT I have stuck with my ugly character clothing rule. I’ll buy them, but those are the clothes that he wears ONLY at home.

  21. Jill,
    Don’t beat yourself up. I was the father of the screaming kid in the supermarket. The same kid whose disappearance forced an Adam alert at Home Depot Expo. I let my daughter dress like Punky Brewster and I changed my son on the airplane floor.

    I want to apologize for the ancient curse that I muttered under my breath that led to your raising children that act like children. It was unseemly of me.


  22. The old me would have said something like, ‘just because your a mom your life doesn’t have to change.’ Silly me! Cocktails and dinner at 10 PM just doesn’t jive with me being a mama anymore.

  23. I am childless and yes sometimes I’m judgmental, but you know when I’m the most judgmental. When a innocent child is simply standing there (albeit in the way) and the mother gets bent out of shape. Pulls them out of the way while yelling.

    It’s like seriously. Take a chill pill. I understand that it’s just the mom wanting to be on the defensive, make sure they aren’t in anyone’s way, but overreacting is not only bad for you and your child, but in my opinion it shows others that you simply can’t handle the public and your child at the same time.

    I think it’s way more important to be a good mom than to worry about strangers that you are not likely to ever see again.

    So go new you!

  24. This was great to read! I was the same way pre-child! But then I took my baby to the commissary because we just HAD to go grocery shopping, and he lost his shiznit while I was doing self-checkout. The lady who ran all 4 self-checkout lines had to come over to my line, try to entertain my baby, and also ended up ringing up most of my order herself. I did everything I could to not look at all the eyes in line behind me that were probably ready to jump me and ask why on earth I’d gotten in the self-checkout line. So the sweet cashier finally finished helping me and I kept thanking her and apologizing and she kept saying that these things happen, he’s only a baby, blah blah blah. And then the lady behind me tried to get my attention and I just knew I was about to be chewed out. She said, “Honey, don’t you worry about all of this, ok? He’s just a baby and every other mother in here not only understands, but is simultaneously thanking God that it’s not her child having a fit.” So I said thank you and apologized again and then left the place crying. Don’t you know the little squirt passed out the second I stuck him in the car….

  25. Someone (old man with old wife) once told my good friend (pregnant with third) “wow, do you really think it’s a good idea to bring another baby into your life when you can’t even take care of the two you’ve got?”.

    Yeah . . . well, I’ll let that comment speak for itself. We can all imagine how we would react. She calmly and politely answered, handling herself very well, then proceeded to rip him a new a–hole when her kids weren’t around, and thankfully he was gone, too. We all helped her to vent.

    I used to be totally judgmental before I had kids. I think everyone is, to some extent. We can see, at that moment, how we think a situation could be handled. But, we don’t know the whole story. We as observers don’t even know half the story!

    Way to put into a post something I’ve been thinking about lately, too!

    • I used to judge grungy people in stores and restruants. Thinking just becuase your poor doesn’t mean you can’t work a washing machine. Until one day I went into a store after fishing, dirty clothes, f-up hair… and I thought to my self at the staring people, “Don’t judge, you don’t even have a clue what I have done today”. Ooops that was me – judging people and not knowing their story!

  26. I love this! I can’t remember how many times I’ve sat there and watched kids throw fits in the store and the mom just kept movin along. I told myself if that was me, I’d leave asap to save everyone else.
    That all changed of Jack would always throw fits abt half way through our shopping trip. I couldn’t make myself leave bc I’d already put so much effort into the trip…lol. I also used to work in grocery and remember how much it sucks to have to restock a whole grocery cart.
    I also said I would never let my kid wear character clothes. At this very moment, I believe Jack has about 3 or 4 Thomas the Train shirts and don’t get me started on the PJs.

    I have kept my word about character shoes. I just can’t make myself do it. 🙂

  27. I pretty much hated all kids up until about 3 years before I had one. I NEVER thought I’d be a mother. I never wanted to be. Then I did. But before then, oh man was I judgy. Have you ever read a “child free” blog or message board? Yeah, that was me. Well, I didn’t shout “entitle-moo” to every mom that came my way, but I scowled with the best of them.

    Like you, I think that’s made me way too self conscious and toddler conscious. I don’t want my daughter or my parenting to be thought of as an act of entitlement. I don’t think I deserve much more than a smile and a nod when I pass. I just wish I didn’t squash some of our fun in the process of keeping the judgmental bitches as bay.

  28. I always say, “don’t throw stones if you live in a glass house,” which translates into “never say what you will or won’t do until you are actually standing in the situation. Being a grandma now, however, I can spoil my grandchildren all I want to, but don’t tell my daughter I said that. 😎

  29. Recently, we were coming home from an out of town trip and stopped to eat. While we were sitting in the parking lot, I had my 6 year old jump up front so I could sit in the back and feed the baby (I’m not so good with the multi-tasking, so I wanted to eat my own meal while in the restaurant). When the baby was done eating, we were piling out of the SUV and the people in the car next to us noticed my 6 year old getting out of the front seat. I noticed the woman pointing to him and freaking out (in mute because her doors were closed, but they WEREN’T tinted, thankyouverymuch) and I was immediately embarrassed. I wanted to bang on her car windows and explain that, no, I don’t let my child ride in the front seat at that age. I was freaking out on the inside, then I realized, “WHY DO I CARE?”. That woman doesn’t know me and all she saw was my 6 year old getting out of the front seat. I might have done the same thing. But in all honesty, it made me realize that we can only take things at face value because we have no idea what’s going on behind closed SUV doors.

  30. Ah, just found this, love it. I have an autistic little man, that changes EVERYTHING about how you can get him to behave in public. I recently dealt with an all out mega-snot-screaming-kicking-pulling away- meltdown in the middle of Kroger. I was trying to keep my cool, and get him to calm down in the middle of a very crowded dairy section. A lady turned around, and started to speak, and I was just waiting for her to say something smart, or sassy. But no, she smiled sweetly, and said “I have 3 at home, and they all had days like this, just breathe, you are doing fine” It really did calm me down a bit. And of course, no one died from having to listen my kid flip out over not getting the Scooby Doo gummy snacks.

  31. I also waited tables through college and a couple years after. I wasn’t judgmental about the misbehaving kids and I knew all about getting kids their food freaking fast or to keep the bread coming – my brother is 13 years younger than myself so I have many memories of him literally pulling curtains down in restaurants and all of us having to leave in a hurry. now I have a 2 year old and a 3 month old and we avoid eating out like the plague. It’s never worth it.

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