It is truly amazing to me that mothers, knowing the difficulties of raising children, continue to judge other mothers. Judgments disguise themselves in many forms; passive-aggressive suggestions, snide remarks, eye-rolling and back-stabbing. Mothers are endlessly judged by other mothers on all kinds of topics ranging from breastfeeding to potty training.
Experts tell us that we should breastfeed from now until infinity. That’s not actually what experts say, but that is how it feels when every breastfeeding session ends with your baby screaming and you in tears. Some babies are vampires, which is great considering their recent elevation in popular culture. Some babies are possums who play dead and sleep all day even when you undress them and peel their eyelids back.
Some babies love the limelight and absolutely refuse to be placed under any type of nursing cover. Some babies are so tiny that finding the right angle is impossible, regardless if you balance them on a temple of pillows or if you hold them like a football. Some babies act as though you have extended an invitation to a 24-hour buffet and you are forced to buy a contraption to physically attach them to your body at all times.
My children were all of these babies at one time or another, which made breastfeeding the equivalent of ripping my fingernails out. Something that comes naturally to the rest of the animal kingdom requires an entire occupation (Lactation Consultant) devoted to its instruction in our species. So, I quit breastfeeding “too early”. Thus, the judgments began.
Yes, I have traveled with a potty in my car and yes, my child has used it in public. There are a couple of reasons for this scenario, neither of which includes my dreams of exhibitionism for my daughter. When you begin potty training a toddler, everything is scary for them initially. Imagine if someone told you that you had to suddenly start using diapers instead of the toilet. It would probably be pretty difficult even if you were offered M&M’s as a reward.
Anyhow, when I first started training Audrey she refused to go anywhere near public toilets. She would actually scream and try to hide herself behind my legs as if a monster was going to crawl out of the toilet and devour her whole. This may have something to do with the fact that whenever she is taking too long to do something I tell her “Hurry up, the monsters are coming”.
The other reason that I need a little yellow sign in my car that says “Potty on Board” is that when toddlers have to “go”, they have to “go” RIGHT NOW. There is no time for indecisiveness about where to stop or whether to cut off the car in the lane beside you. If you choose to signal and cautiously wait for other vehicles to roll out the red carpet, you have condemned yourself to an afternoon of cleaning urine out of the crevices in a car-seat.
If you are lucky enough to coast safely to the side of the highway and get your kid out of the car before an accident happens, you will be privy to the infamous pee-pee-dance. Controlling multiple muscle groups in such a coordinated effort is a talent reserved for children. Dancing to prevent myself from peeing would have completely the opposite effect. So, my child dropped trou to use the potty on the side of the road. Thus, the judgments began.
Our toughest critic is supposedly ourselves, but other mothers make formidable opponents. Breastfeeding and potty training are mere shavings of the iceberg when it comes to child-rearing topics, but I wanted to discuss them because they are so heavily laden with judgments. Whenever I feel like judging another mother, I think of my own children. My heart swells just thinking about their sweet smiles and I know that I can give them what no one else in the world can. The same can be said for other mothers and their children. This makes us all perfect tens.