I was in front of my old self at Costco yesterday, and it proved to be a tough and beautiful 5 minutes of reflection.
Between work and home yesterday, I had to make a stop at Costco for some critical items before I flew the kids to Oregon this weekend: Diapers and formula for Lebowski coupled with pre-made meals for the family… since I did NOT get my act together to plan meals this week. I rushed in, grabbed the bare essentials and started racing towards the register…. when I found myself navigating the isles behind a cute relaxed woman and her little 5-7 month old baby.
She was slowly pushing her cart while making adorable cooing and peek-a-boo faces to her little smiling baby in the car seat, and clearly enjoying her Costco outing. (I, too, adore my Costco outings and will easily find reasons to go there and drop way too much money way too often… so I completely understand the enjoyment factor.) Her cart was full of organic whole food – nothing pre-made or processed. Her boobs were also huge, which led me to “assume” that she was still nursing.
5 minutes later, I find myself in line, and she is directly behind me. I can see her eyeing my cart, while playing adorably with her little munchkin. Suddenly, I become extremely self conscious and a wave of shame came over me as I’m loading my items up for check-out. Here is what was in my cart:
- 4 containers of generic Costco formula
- a 210 pack of disposable diapers
- a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken
- a container of pre-made ceaser salad
- another pre-made salad in a container
Nothing too incriminating… right? Well, here is how the next 5 minutes played out in my head:
Minutes 0-2: Misplaced Shame
My psyche turned on me and got all self-judgmental. I thought, “Oh man… I must look like a total slacker. This chill super-mom is probably thinking about how much I’m poisoning my baby with formula instead of breast milk, and how I’m killing the environment with all these disposable diapers. And my lazy meal selections are totally sad, too. I should start a conversation so I can explain that I work with two kids and am traveling this weekend… so she’ll understand and maybe judge me a little less.” Yup. That is what was really going through my head. Yuck.
Minutes 2-3: Coming to Peace
I finally came to my senses and thought… “WHAT AM I DOING??” I am a good mom, doing my best, and today I am getting food for my baby and family. The end. I chose to stop nursing Lebowski at 6 months, and this week I am choosing to spend my time in other ways that do not include meal planning and cooking. I will get more sleep and be happier for these two decisions, and guilting myself for unnecessary reasons is not going to help anyone in this situation. Let it go… and smile with the extra time and understanding you have bought yourself. She is a good mom, and I am a good mom… and we are navigating this thing called motherhood in our own way – the best we can.
Minutes 3-5: Oh Wait… that was ME!!
Directly after the kind Costco employee checked my receipt and I headed for the car… I had a stark realization: I had been so ashamed because I saw my old self in that fellow mommy. I was feeling judged because I had previously been the judgmental one.
For the first 10 months of Jumping Bean’s life, I worked 20 hours a week. I used cloth diapers 90% of the time, I nursed her for a year and only supplemented with expensive formula, made nearly all of her baby food, and cooked most meals without using pre-made or processed foods.
And then I got a full time job that I love, and a few of those commitments had to change. And then I got pregnant… and the rest is history. Let’s just say this time around: I use 1-2 cloth diapers on a good day, cheap formula was the norm at 6 months, I haven’t even attempted to make a single ounce of baby food, and we now know what my family is eating for dinner.
I was literally looking at that wonderful mom as if she was my ‘ex-self’ judging me for my purchase choices… partly because I judged other people more than I should have when I was a new mom. I know I did. It kind of hurt to realize how wrong I had been, but kind of freeing to realize how much more understanding I have become. Who in the hell was I to ever thing I “knew better” with the choices I was making?
We all say it “Don’t judge anyone else until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.” And it’s true. We need to be especially kind to other moms that have chosen paths that are best for their families… but they are different than our paths.
Unless you are one of those moms that only wears heels everywhere. I have no desire to walk down the block in your shoes- I’ll just take your word for it.