I will admit it. Before I had a child I judged.
I judged when kids screamed in a restaurant or on a plane. I judged when I saw an older child with a pacifier. I judged parents when I saw children out late at night way past bedtime. I would ask myself… What are those parents thinking? Why don’t they have control over their children? I had no problem offering my free advice about something that (I know now) I knew nothing about. How hard can it be to make him give up his pacifier? Or get them to bed at a reasonable time? How difficult can it possibly be to get her out of diapers? Or make them eat their vegetables? I mean, what kind of parent can’t do that?
As children we are taught not to judge people with mental impairments or physical disabilities. We are expected to be kind to others. After all, one never knows what happens behind closed doors.
So why is it that once I had a child everyone provided an opinion, whether solicited or not? I felt incredibly overwhelmed once we brought “A” home from the hospital. I don’t think that we were even home before the advice started.
“A” was adopted from the states. No, I did not breastfeed (judged). We returned home with our new baby girl by plane (judged). We did not have a baby shower for her before she was born (judged). We did not have the crib bought, her nursery ready, or any of the necessities that you need for a baby when they come home from the hospital (judged, judged, judged).
People are so willing to judge without knowing the full story.
Ours story goes like this. We tried to adopt a child for years. We had at least four adoptions fall apart after the baby was born. I witnessed two c-sections for children who ended up in someone else’s arms. My husband and I even named one of the babies – Charles Joseph. And yes, he still has that name. I still talk to his mother.
So when we got a call and rush to another state to adopt our baby we were ill prepared. We wanted to be ill prepared for our daughter’s birth. Our hearts could not take preparing one more time. We knew that no one can ever know what might happen.
The judging continued as “A” grew. Everyone thinks that they did or do things the right way. It may mask itself as concern, empathy, or some other form of “motherly” advice. It’s impossible to miss the looks people give you when they are judging your parenting decisions. “A” was 3 and still not potty trained (judged). She was 2 ½ and still drinking a bottle at night (judged). At 4 she still had her pacifier (judged).
I started to feel the pressure and potty trained her by forcing her to go sit on the potty every 20 min. Was this right? Was SHE ready … I will never be able to answer this question. Would waiting another few months have been the worst thing in the world? Another unanswerable question. What I do know is that by the time she was ready for four year old kindergarten she was potty trained. The school did not care when she was potty trained, just that she was potty trained.
As for the bottle, I can tell you that giving her a bottle at 2 ½ was more me then her. I loved the magical bottle. I loved the way that it made her restful and peaceful and ready for bed. I loved holding her until she fell asleep. It was the same with the pacifier. It calmed her, put her at ease and made her happy. Once we got rid of these things I found it much more difficult to get her to bed and to sleep. Did we do something wrong? Could we have done things better or sooner?
“A” just had her first teacher conference for K-4. The teacher told me that she is well-adjusted, smart, social, independent and happy. These are the qualities I want my daughter to have. Is the teacher now judging my child? I guess for now, I do not think of it as much judging, as affirmation that we are doing an ok job at parenting. As I look at all of the decisions we’ve made so far, I am satisfied, even happy. Happy that I did not push her to get rid of a lot of things that she loved. Happy that I kept doing many of the things that I loved. All of these little decisions have helped to make her who she is. And for this I am a very grateful.