If you are pregnant or have kids you know what I mean. If you don't have kids yet you will learn that it starts as soon as people find out you are pregnant. Nothing invites others to openly criticize your life choices more than bearing children. I was shocked at how open people feel about telling you what to do in regards to your own body and later your own child. From what you eat while you are pregnant, to how you choose to give birth, to how long you breastfeed for (if you breastfeed at all). Everyone has strong opinions on the topic of kids and they aren't shy about sharing them.
For me it started with well meaning friends sending me articles about how what I ate while I was pregnant would affect my child's food preferences for the rest of their lives and how I could be inadvertently steering them toward obesity already. This was enough to send me in to a panic attack every time I gave in to an ice cream craving. After I gave birth the unasked for advice didn't stop. It comes from friends, family and complete strangers and you start to learn that this is a normal part of being a parent. You eventually learn to tune some of this out and follow your own instincts but sometimes it's hard not to question yourself. Often the little shred of doubt creeps in and you wonder if you are harming your child in some horrible and irrevocable way.
The worst part is I realized how I can be just as bad as anyone else about judging other moms. You see, the thing that got me thinking about this was a recent online chat I had with a friend about how I hate to see babies with pierced ears. Personally, I think it's creepy and I always make a snap judgement about moms who pierce their little one's ears. I was talking to some other family members about the conversation and it hit me what a jerk I sounded like. I had to take a step back and realize how unfair this was. I know nothing about these families or their reasons for doing what they do and and by judging them I am being just as annoying as the people who have judged me about countless things regarding my daughter.
My point is that we are probably all guilty of judging other parents. Of course we have strong opinions about what is best for our kids and it's hard not to project these on to other families. But let's face it people, being a parent is really, REALLY hard. It's certainly the hardest thing I've ever done and I love it with all my heart (as evidenced by my rush to have a second kid). Basically anyone who raises a reasonably healthy kid to adulthood deserves a medal in my book. As moms we will of course beat ourselves up over every little mistake we make and it's hard enough without others jumping all over us as well. So let's all cut ourselves, and other moms, a little slack. Remember that regardless of our differences in parenting style we all want the same thing, for our kids to grow up healthy and happy. I know I will try to keep this in mind next time I see a baby with pierced ears ;-)