The other day my husband and I were taking our daughter for a quick trip to the grocery store, and as we were pulling out of our neighborhood we passed a little girl whizzing by on her scooter as her mother tried to keep up behind her. It was a breezy, cool, 40 degree day, but the sun was bright and not a cloud in the sky. As we drove by this mother-daughter duo, the comment out of my mouth was, “I cannot believe that little girl is in capris! Its so cold! Was that mom not paying attention!?”. Embarrassing to admit, believe me. But it was. Those were the words that came out of my mouth. And whether or not you want to admit it to yourself, I’m sure at some point you’ve thought something along similar lines. Thankfully Matt (husband) shot me a look that put me back in my place. He didn’t need to say a word. As if I were in an adult timeout, I sat in the front seat silently thinking about my comment.
For all I knew, maybe the mom was teaching her daughter how to pick out her own appropriate clothes and this was a learning experience. Maybe the mom bit her tongue this time as her daughter fought to be able to express herself with clothes of her choosing. Maybe the daughter was simply running warm (as a lot of kids do), and this was just what felt good for her. Maybe these were actually pants that fit at one time, but they didn’t have enough money to get her new pants at the moment (kids grow fast!). Maybe mom hadn’t gotten to the laundry because of her extensive to-do list, and these were the last pair of clean bottoms other than shorts. Maybe mom was going through a nasty divorce battle, and was a little mentally and emotionally distracted at the moment. Maybe mom didn’t want her in capris, but she was running on fumes from being up with another child all night and simply didn’t have the energy to fight this fight. I could go on all day with possible scenarios why this girl was in little capris in 40 degree weather, but the point I made very clear to myself was I had no idea about the life this mom has lived, the day this mom was having, or the person this mom really is. And I had absolutely no place to make quick judgments as I drove by. Maybe the bigger, more important point here being that this mom was up and outside playing her with daughter on this breezy Saturday morning and THAT is what mattered.
After the internal, verbal talking-to I gave myself, I realized I had a conscious choice to make. I can either be in the club of moms that is supportive, empathetic, compassionate, and non-judgmental, OR – I could be in the club that compares, judges, and sees a girl in little capris in 40 degree weather and immediately looks down from some self-appointed pedestal. (Ok, so it wasn’t really a choice – I want to be the club of moms that is supportive, and I genuinely hope everyone else does too). And don’t get me wrong, comments like the one I made that day are very far and few; I live to help and empathize with others. But one is one too many, and I don’t want that to be the stream of consciousness that takes place after seeing a mom appearing to be doing things differently than I might. Who did I think I was?!
Whether you’re the mom that does cloth diapers, or chooses the convenience of disposables. The mom that never wanted to nurse, or the mom that exclusively nursed for that whole first year. Whether you’re the mom that has the newest and cutest brand name clothes for your little one, or the mom that graciously accepts all gently used hand-me-downs. Whether you’re the mom that gets to stay home, or the mom that works two jobs. Whether you’re the mom that does or doesn’t do one of the million other decisions we must make for our children, the common thread that binds us all is that we love our children fiercely, and would do anything and everything in our power to make sure they’re taken care of – in whatever capacity that may be. That last fact, and that fact alone should be the only thing that matters, and is what will turn any future, “Why on Earth is that girl in capris?!” into, “Bless that mom for getting up early in this cold and spending time with her daughter outside!”.
Being a mom is hard enough without any judgment being passed. And motherhood is enhanced when shared with moms who show unwavering support and compassion. So, I promise to always be the mom who sees the bonding time, not whether or not their clothes are weather appropriate. I would like to stay in the supportive mom’s club, and I hope you’ll continue to join me.