There are some things you just don't do to a mom. Don't mess with her little ones. Don't ask her when she's going to "lose the baby weight." And, barring neglect, don't suggest she's not giving enough of herself to her children. Look, I get it: we all love the sound of our own voices, so resisting the need to hurl opinions can be difficult. However, I'm here to give you some suggestions about things you can do instead of judge how much time moms spend with their kids.
But first I'd like to talk about maybe why this is an issue in the first place. So there was a while, shortly after I had my first kid, when the people around me would constantly reference my motherhood. "Oh, you're doing that because you're a mom!" or, "You're such a mom!" Even when the subject at hand had nothing to do with maternity in any way, my involvement was somehow always seen through the lens of motherhood. Now I'm sure a lot of that was the novelty of my having a kid, but I think it also just speaks to the idea that society has such a narrow view of mothers, so once a woman has offspring anything about her not in service to the "ideal" is either ignored or judged. The message seems to be that you can be a mother or you can be a complex and interesting human being, but you can't be both. The worst part of it is, I know some women who have admitted to buying into it a little bit and begin only to see themselves as "Caden's mommy" or "Jolene and Sarah's mom." (Personally, for what it's worth, I've found that actively pushing against this idea has been beneficial to my personal wellbeing and interpersonal relationships.)
The idea that mothers must spend an unspecified (but usually highly demanding) amount of time in the physical presence of their children is often the bane of many women (especially working moms). This is often exacerbated by the fact that lots of women would love to spend more time with their kids, but can't due to work, school, or any number of other factors. In short, these women don't need your judgment. So when you feel the need to chastise, here are some handy things you could do instead:
There's a lot going on in the world right now that is more deserving of your attention, anger, and action. Including, by the way, policies and legislation that affect a mother's ability to be there for her children. Calling your senators and congressperson is a good start, but that's only the beginning. Honestly, all this is probably going to take you away from judging moms for years to come.
Like, literally anywhere. An animal shelter; a women's shelter; an after-school sports team; with your synagogue, church, or mosque; there is no dearth of possibilities and I believe you will find the time you spend making the world a better place is far more rewarding than giving some poor mom a guilt trip.
Even I could be taught how to knit a scarf. It's soothing, it's easy, and who doesn't love scarves? Bonus: if you ever feel the need to start lecturing while you knit, you can just stick a ball of yarn in your mouth to effectively promote shutting the hell up.
It's been sitting on your bedside table since David Foster Wallace died in 2008 and you heard everyone calling it a "modern masterpiece." I know, I know: it's a slog. However, maybe if you really focus on muscling through it you'll get into it and understand all the hype.
A simple, "Hey, how are you doing?" can go a long way. Or simply giving out the vibe that you are there if she does need to reach out for help, or just talk. This is much more helpful than a smug judgmental vibe that makes her simultaneously feel ashamed and indignant.
Doesn't matter what time it is or where you live, chances are there's one on if you just go through enough channels.
Maybe by the time Game of Thrones comes back in July you won't even need the subtitles on when Dany talks to Grey Worm and Missandei. I also this is a really neat bar trick (if you go to a bar full of geeks, like me).
Bonus: if you do still feel the need to condescend someone, you can do it in Valyrian. Since they won't know what you're saying you'll be less likely to offend them!
Planting a garden helped Mary Lennox turn from a sour, miserable little girl to a happy, thriving child in The Secret Garden. Maybe you can do the same.
They always distract me from whatever I'm doing, including but not limited to work, watching my kids, or talking to my partner. Can you blame me? Look at this cat! He's in a box! Cats don't belong in boxes! That's silly. Kitty, you're silly!
Mom loves it when you call. You really should call her more often.
Because you seem really cranky. Are you cranky? You know, when I'm feeling sort of glum and grumpy and free to spew my stupid ideas about what a woman should and should not do, I find that taking just a little bit of a cat nap clears that right up. I wake up refreshed and non-judgmental. Why not give it a go?
Instead of looking down on a mom you feel is neglecting her maternal duties, why not think about her challenges and goals? Instead of thinking about what you would do in her shoes, think about why she does what she does. If you don't have a clear answer (or can't muster sufficient empathy), move forward with the knowledge that she knows her life and child better than you do.
Because, seriously: what's your deal, dude? It is really the wellbeing of this woman and her family? Really?
Moms are busy enough. They have precisely zero minutes available to deal with your bullsh*t. Piss off, sort yourself out, and come back with a better attitude.