Courtesy of Gemma Hartley

Honestly, I Don't Care If You Judge My Parenting

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In the light of recent tragedies, it seems as if judging parents on the internet has reached a fever pitch. I still feel a visceral shock at the fact that there are people ready and willing to judge a mother grieving the loss of a child, but it seems like everyone feels entitled to point out the failings of parents — sometimes to the point of extreme cruelty. Luckily, I am subject to judgment as a parent only by what I choose to share with the world, rather than having my parenting defined by a narrative that is out of my control. But honestly, I don’t care if you judge my parenting.

Being a parent in this age of social media condemnation often feels like swimming in a tank full of piranhas. God forbid you let one drop of your blood stain the water, lest you get eaten alive. And we aren't just judged by our “bad” parenting moments, but by every decision we make as parents. As mothers, we're often subject to scrutiny no matter what we do, no matter how we flip the coin. To make it worse, there is no “right” way to parent. It's always this vs. that, a sloppy dance wherein we're just trying to do what's best for our children and ourselves. But no matter how hard we try, there will always be someone somewhere who thinks I’m a godawful, terrible, should-have-my-kids-taken-from-me mother, and they’re going to want to tell me all about it. And I'm done fighting them. For good.

courtesy of Gemma Hartley
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Judging me for my parenting choices isn’t going to change the way I parent. I’m not going to read some drawn-out vitriol against me and suddenly see the error of my ways.

On the one hand, it’s pretty unsavory to think that there are people in this world who literally live to tell mothers like me how I am failing, especially when I already feel like I'm struggling to get by so much of the time. Seeing so much tremendous hate towards mothers who are earnestly trying to do right is seriously sickening. On the other hand though, I really couldn’t care less that there are people who waste their time judging my decisions about how I choose to raise my children, because it says a whole lot more about them than it does about me. If someone has nothing better to do than lurk and say mean things in the comment sections online, that’s a moral failing on their behalf, not mine. If someone is truly concerned with the world going to hell in a hand basket, there are more productive ways to deal with that fear than sitting behind a computer screen shredding my lack of mom-talent to pieces.

Judging me for my parenting choices isn’t going to change the way I parent. I’m not going to read some drawn-out vitriol against me and suddenly see the error of my ways. The truth is, even though I write out so much of my parenting story for the whole internet to see, I don’t do so to provoke controversy or invite criticism. I’m not spouting off my parenting decisions so people can tell me how horrible I am, and I'm definitely not doing it so people can tell me how "perfectly" I've got this whole mom thing down. I enjoy sharing my life because I want other mothers to know that they aren’t alone. Sometimes I do it because I like to know I’m not alone, either. I know that putting myself out there means I will be judged, but it doesn’t mean I have to care about those judgments.

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Courtesy of Gemma Hartley

Honestly, choosing to let my kids watch TV or occasionally eat non-organic macaroni and cheese for breakfast is not going to make or break the whole damn world. Even my larger failings, like trying to control my temper during my kids’ tantrums or wondering how on earth I am ever supposed to figure out balancing work and parenting, are ultimately going to shape my life more than anyone else’s (including my children’s). Life will go on. The world will keep turning. And your judgment about whether or not I am doing a good enough job at being a parent does not and will not change that outcome.

The business of raising tiny humans — of being their everything all the time, round the clock, always — is exhausting enough. I don't have time to worry and stress out about what someone who doesn't know me or doesn't know me well enough thinks of me and the job I'm doing. I don't have time to impress or inspire you. I'm just trying to get through the day.
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So you can save your holier-than-thou parenting judgments for someone who cares. Or give them to me. It doesn’t matter much either way. Because I couldn’t care less about what you think of my parenting. Only I know the depth and complexity of my story, and I refuse to let strangers on the internet or real life define the way I feel about myself because they’ve read some excerpts from my life. The business of raising tiny humans — of being their everything all the time, round the clock, always — is exhausting enough. I don't have time to worry and stress out about what someone who doesn't know me or doesn't know me well enough thinks of me and the job I'm doing. I don't have time to impress or inspire you. I'm just trying to get through the day. I have more important things to worry about than what the world thinks about me. I have a family to love and take care of. I have a life to live. And unless you're an intimate part of that equation, my life will go on with or without your commentary.

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