Then I found a local message board here in Louisville and I was pleasantly surprised. The women were supportive of each other, knowledgeable about many topics, and delightfully accepting of varying parenting styles. I'd found my cyber tribe.
But recently, there's been some negativity on the board. Someone posted a "I cannot BELIEVE what I saw a mom doing today" post and people hopped on, slinging insults about that woman's great sin. Then another post. Then another. I've remained mostly silent, opting to stay out of the comments, but I've been really disappointed and sometimes even angry. I live in fear that someone will come on and post something they observed me do (Louisville is a small town, after all) and why it makes me a terrible mother. Fear NOT of being judged. As a middle school teacher, I'm used to that. No, I live in fear of what I'd say BACK to that unsuspecting poster.
Women need to support each other. Or as the great Ani DiFranco says, "Trust that women will always do their best. Trust our differences make us stronger, not less."
Yes, as a tribe, we must guard each others' children. I've called CPS several times in my years as an educator when I feared abuse, neglect, or a home not conducive to raising a child. What I didn't do was passive-aggressively post about it online so everyone could join me in bashing the family. Of course, if a kid is hurt, I'm angry at the adult. Of course I'll take action. But if someone's doing something against my personal style, it's just none of my damned business.
I have no doubt the board will even out soon. Most of the women there feel as I do. But I'm taking a breather to be safe.
So, in the meanwhile, I decided to start a list of all the reasons I've heard people judge other moms (not just on this board, but in all realms of life). Please, feel free to add your own to the comments. My thinking is if you've done something on this list, maybe you don't need to judge anyone else. Because someone is already judging you, and my guess is you don't like it.
· You spank your child.
· You don’t spank your child.
· Your child eats fast food.
· Your child eats sugar.
· Your child eats only hippy organic food.
· You let your baby have ice cream.
· You gave your baby eat solid food before six months.
· You gave your baby solid food before a year.
· Your baby only drinks milk and will never learn to eat.
· You formula feed your baby.
· You breastfeed your baby in public.
· You’re drinking a beer while breastfeeding.
· You breastfeed your toddler.
· You breastfeed your preschooler.
· Your kid is raised by other people at daycare.
· You’re a stay-at-home-mom with no life.
· You’ve never left your kid with a babysitter.
· You go out without your kids regularly.
· You let your baby cry to sleep.
· You nurse your baby to sleep.
· You share a bed with your baby.
· You make your baby sleep alone.
· Your baby sleeps in a bouncy seat or swing instead of the crib.
· Your baby takes a pacifier.
· Your baby uses you like a pacifier.
· Your baby is circumcised.
· Your kid is throwing a fit in public.
· You’re giving into that kid who’s throwing a fit in public (and spoiling him).
· You’re a helicopter parent.
· You aren’t keeping an eye on your kid.
· You wanted to move the date of Halloween so your kid won’t trick-or-treat in a severe thunderstorm.
· You made your kid trick-or-treat in a severe thunderstorm.
· You drank caffeine while pregnant.
You drank a glass of wine while pregnant.
· You smoked while pregnant.
· You pumped gas while pregnant.
· You battled a drug addiction while pregnant.
· You were one of those annoying neurotic women who wouldn’t do anything fun while pregnant.
· You used midwives.
· You used an OB-GYN.
· You had a homebirth.
· You had a c-section.
· You think you’re a hero because you didn’t use any painkillers during birth.
· You’re a Christian mom.
· You’re not a Christian mom.
· You’re married to a man who doesn’t work.
· You’re married to a controlling man.
· You’re married to someone you don’t deserve.
· You’re not married.
· Your spouse is a woman.
· You installed your car seat incorrectly.
· You are a car seat Nazi.
· You put your baby in a stroller.
· You carry your baby everywhere.
· You’re overweight and lazy.
· You’re thin and obviously vain.
· Your kids watch TV.
· Your kids never get to watch TV.
· You’re on your phone all the time.
· You leave your kids in the car to go on a job interview.
· You’re on welfare.