Second Time Motherhood: Mom-Judging Myself

When I was a first-time mom my business-minded type-A personality was my approach to motherhood. After all, I was coming off a corporate job where deadlines, schedules, multi-tasking, and having everything polished and buttoned up were my job, which often took over my entire life. I liked planning and executing my work to perfection and that’s how I began my parenting journey as well.

Like many new moms, while I secretly struggled with self-doubt and trudged through the tedious times, I put on my best face and tried to make it all look easy, even though it wasn’t. By design our lives were fairly routine, and I was obsessed with making my child bright, talented, charming and kind by pumping as much knowledge, love and experience into him as possible. Although I started a business from home, most of my time was dedicated to him and only him. Now I realize what a luxury that was.

Second Time Motherhood: Mom-Judging MyselfLittle did I know how things would change when my second baby came along. My business suit and board meeting days were a distant memory and so were many of my regimented ways. It wasn’t that I wanted to let them go, but more like I had to in order to survive, and in some respects to keep the peace in my family.

In looking back to my first-time motherhood days, I recognize that no matter how open-minded I said I was or I wanted to be as a mom, I was judging others who didn’t do it my way. And now as I find myself doing things differently the second time around, I realize I have become those moms I judged so poorly.  And for a type-A, people pleaser like me, I sometimes feel like a disappointment.

I would have judged me for letting my baby put other people’s toys in his mouth and not always cleaning up his drool. I would have judged me for not taking him to a museum, the aquarium, the zoo, the library or story times at least once a week. I would have judged me for letting him still have a pacifier at over one-year of age. I would have judged me for not reading enough books. I would have judged me for not having enough play dates. I would have judged me for letting my son crawl around in public places where people walk with their dirty shoes (which completely grosses me out but I still let it happen). And I would have judged me for toting my baby around to pick up carpool, run errands and take my oldest to his after-school activities.

And as I mom shame myself from the past about the present and incur the mom guilt that follows, another thought dawns on me: as a second-time mom, with all the benefit of my great wisdom (that’s a joke, by the way), I also judge first-time mom me.

I judge me for not being more flexible and reading my baby. I judge me for almost never letting my baby fall asleep on my chest – now one of my most-cherished moments with my second – because nap time was supposed to be in a crib. I judge me for not letting my first get dirtier and be exposed to more germs earlier in life. I judge me for hovering and not giving my first the space to learn to play independently.  I judge me for fretting over every little thing that turned out not to matter. I judge me for staying up to late to get it all done and being exhausted the next day. And I judge me for having judged others.

Although I speak out against mom shaming and mom guilt, by experiencing how I judge myself in both directions, I see how both are so prevalent. But I also recognize that experience and time have given me perspective. All the judging I did when I had the freedom to focus on only one child and now when I look back at myself as a first-time mom is both narrow-minded and lacking of compassion.

In my heart I believe that there are many ways to be a good parent, and I believe children need to be parented differently based on who they are inherently.  Those are the values I remember to tame the judging of myself and others. Because I don’t walk in anyone else’s shoes and frankly, I don’t even walk in my own mom shoes from five years ago when my first son was a baby. I have to accept who I was as a first-time mom now that I’m a second time mom and vice versa.

Fortunately, like many other parenting challenges, looking at my thriving children, holding them, and loving them makes me realize, despite my own criticisms, I must be doing something right.


Written by Erin, Loving Moments by Leading Lady brand ambassador