“I feel like I’m cheating at being a mom,” a friend once confessed.

After her second child was born, she hired a part-time nanny to help with her active 22-month-old.  A local family member also assisted her weekly.  Some moms she knew had been making snide comments about her choice which led her to feel guilty.

“You’re not cheating,” I assured her.  “They’re jealous.”

“You think?” she asked.

I knew.  Because I was jealous, too.  I didn’t have family nearby and couldn’t afford to pay for help.  But I’m a big believer in anything that reduces stress and allows you to be a calmer more present parent.  So if you can hire, swap for or freely receive help, by all means do.  And don’t feel guilty or second guess whether this makes you less of a mom.  If you can’t afford or find the help you need, do what you can to be kind to yourself and impose breaks in whatever form you can manage—a nap while the baby is down, an hour of peace and quiet while your partner takes the kids to the park, a guilty pleasure after the kids are in bed.

And if you have a friend or family member who has more help or resources than you . . . be envious.  You’re human.  But don’t say anything to make them feel guilty or inadequate.  Being a parent is hard enough without the weight of feeling judged.

Judging divides us.  It breaks our connection with others—something we desperately need if we are going to survive parenthood and being human.

When my son was transitioning to solid foods, I was with a group of new moms who were chattering about all the superfoods they were feeding their babies.  Then one commented how a particular jarred baby food was disgusting.  Another offered her agreement.  “I wouldn’t feed that stuff to my DOG!”

It just so happened I was feeding that stuff to my SON who couldn’t seem to get enough of it.  But I lacked the courage to admit this right then and there, though I noticed I wasn’t the only mom who looked silently worried.

I liked and respected those moms and still do.  I’m quite certain they didn’t mean to insult me as they assumed they were in the company of like-minded moms who would never, ever feed their precious children something they considered gross.  Except . . . I WAS.

Most of the parents you know including yourself are doing the best they can.  Remind yourself of this when you feel the urge to be critical.  Give that gift to yourself and others.  EVERY DAY.

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