Before you have kids, it's easy to judge.
The other day, a mom friend posted on her Facebook wall about how she had finally done it, she had let her son pee in the bushes at the playground. There wasn't time to find a bathroom. There wasn't a bathroom nearby. So, what to do if you have a kid doing the pee pee dance and a babe in your arms (she has a 10-month-old too) needing milk? You find the closest swatch of shrubbery and you let your son do his business.
Her choice that day is one I would have COMPLETELY judged (major eye rolls and sighs) pre-kids. But post-kids, I TOTALLY get it. In fact, I high five her for it.
Here's my list of those major parenting judgments I made (probably in poor taste) before I knew what it felt like to live with two small goats all day long.
1. Kids on leashes.
I would see them in malls, at airports and (for shame!), in the happiest place on earth. Then I took my first trip to Disney and I prayed for a leash, a rope, anything with which to bind my crazy four-year-old to my side as we battled the crowds of mouse-loving fans and princess wannabes.
Leashes? They're not just for dogs anymore.
2. Kids on airplanes.
It's like I just expected everyone to travel without their progeny. Who was I? I was a heartless brat, that's who I was.
But seriously, I recall being on a transatlantic flight with a very unhappy baby. The baby was screaming for what seemed like hours (probably more like years to the fretful parents) and I plugged my headphones in and sulked. Who were these people, these "parents," who thought it was a good idea to travel with their children?
Now I know the answer. They were probably visiting relatives or hoping for some magical time away as a family. My eye rolling probably only made those nervous parents even more anxious.
3. Moms who didn't breastfeed.
I remember thinking, it's natural. It's free. What's your problem if you don't do it? You must be crazy or really selfish if you don't breastfeed.
Then, I tried it myself. It HURTS! And once you get past that, the baby needs to eat all the time at first so for a mother who is exclusively breast feeding, it is very taxing on your body and creates even more sleep deprivation.
Then there are the possible nipple infections, medications you might be taking that cross over into the milk (I had a friend getting over brain surgery who had some serious meds to take, therefore, her doctor advised her not to breastfeed), and the hormones expressed during the process that might make you feel the opposite of elated. It happened to me.
After all of that, your boobs turn into fried eggs at best. The life just goes out of them. Poof. No judgments here, mamas!
4. Parents who didn't use car seats in taxi cabs.
I would think, How can you not protect your most prized possession while taking a trip in a moving weapon?
But then, I got stuck in the rain or the subway line I planned to take just wasn't running and I had to improvise. Hence, I stick the baby in the Ergo and pull a seatbelt over us both in the car. Not the safest strategy (and I'm probably going to be lambasted by everyone for admitting to this), but it's what I did. I do not judge anymore.
5. Parents letting kids pee in public.
Major shame points if you let your kid poop in public (which I once witnessed happening off of the back hatch of a Ford truck while I waited in a very hot parking lot in a line to get on a ferry boat).
As my mommy friend said in her post, "I once judged a man for letting his kid pee on the curb. In public! Like a dog!" I did the same thing. Now I know what a Potette is and I carry plastic bags (just in case).
6. Parents changing diapers in public places.
Isn't that why they make changing tables? Or have you heard of something called a family restroom? This is what I wanted to say to these so-called "responsible caregivers" who were seen swiftly giving their kids a diaper wipe-down on a park bench, or for Pete's sake, on an airport chair!
But then I had a baby (and then another) and I learned about stinky restrooms, long bathroom lines at rest stops, the fact that not all bathrooms provide changing tables (so you're supposed to clean your kid on the dirty floor instead?), and explosive poop. Let someone else cast the first stone!
7. Parents with kids at bars.
How can you consume booze in front of your impressionable children? How can you bring them into an establishment that promotes the excessive consumption of alcohol?
Oh wait, it's been a long a** day and I could really use a cold one. Ergo-it-up baby (Or Bjorn or Maclaren if that's your thing) and let's take this kid with us, I say! To date, I have taken both of my kids — from the time they were wee ones — to many bars.
Go ahead, judge me.
8. Parents who negotiate.
I remember being at a restaurant and hearing a mom say to her daughter, "You can choose the chicken or the hamburger. If you don't like that, you can share with mommy. What do you think sounds good?" I thought, she's the kid. You pick for her. You're in charge, mom! Booohahahahahaha.
Then, I had kids. No wait, let me rephrase. Then, I had a four-year-old girl, who at first was a two-year-old loon and before that a three-year-old meanie. Try getting one of them to do what you say. Just try it. Now try doing it with two kids.
9. People with kids at grocery stores.
It's like I just assumed people with kids didn't eat. Remember what I said earlier about living with two goats all day long? That's what it's like, but most of all at the grocery store.
All of the colorful cereal boxes are right at their fingertips. They rifle through your purse, pull stuff out of the stroller (how in the world did our remote control get down there?), and go through the shelves. They steal things!
No, really, my kids have shop lifted, right under my nose. Most recently, I returned from a simple trip to Rite Aid and realized my 18-month-old was holding a leftover Valentine's Day toy in her hands (a stuffed heart with a mustachioed face and a chef's hat that said "What's Cookin' Good Lookin'?" on it).
I no longer judge anyone trying to rush to buy their children fresh food after they have probably had a long day at work and needed to bring the kids along.
This article was originally published at Momtastic. Reprinted with permission from the author.