Heal Instead of Hurt: Getting Proactive and Positive with the Mommies Coexist Pledge

by Janice

swing-set-fog-playgroundLife on the playground is tough. It is full of judgement, cliques, and put-downs. There are back handed compliments and straight up insults. And yes — I am talking about life on the SIDELINES of the playground.

Can I tell you — some of the loneliest moments of my life were when I was standing all alone, as my pregnant belly grew, while my first grade son played, (or rather tried to play,) after school. I was trying to make it through my pregnancy without my anxiety and depression medication and that was not easy as the mom of a son with behavioral challenges and special needs.

I had the leprosy of motherhood — the child whom other mothers wanted to avoid. I was the mother they judged, the one they talked about in their thirty-something huddles.

And if I hadn’t have had my online community, my mom blogging friends and special needs moms who knew my pain and didn’t judge me, well I don’t know how I would have survived.

But, sometimes that online mom community can be just as cruel as those offline mothers judging one another on the playground. Sadly, comment sections can become stoning sessions.

Personally, I can never understand those cruel and judgmental responses. Of course we all “judge” in that we make our own personal opinions and use our own discernment about issues and situations. But it is when we imply, or even believe, that we are “better” than someone, or attack or hurt someone because we do not agree with them, when the problems come.

No one wins when mothers get judgmental. Whether we agree, or even understand, we can still support each others as fellow flawed human beings. As I said recently in a comment section, “…an honest, flawed human is a heck of a lot more healing for her friends than someone who is afraid to admit her own weaknesses.”

I am all about GRACE. It is my life word and I will do all I can to offer grace to other people, cause MAN I need it myself!

So, when my dear friend Rachel from Grasping for Objectivity emailed me to ask if we would partner with her to spread her message of “Mommies Coexist,” I started writing this post immediately.

The world has enough negativity and crap. I am trying to not add any more.

What is Mommies Coexist?

The basic premise is encouraging Mommies to Coexist – to not judge each other for not doing parenting the way they “think” it should be done.

Rachel explains:

“We need to remember that the path of motherhood is a fingerprint – no two are ever going to look the same. Every groove making up each print has it’s own unique twists and turns – children’s personalities, financial situation, living situation, needs of everyone in the family, the past…it’s completely erroneous to assume that what works for me will automatically and with certainty work for you.”

Rachel made herself this pledge, to try to do the following things whenever talking to another mother:

1. Listen – Really listen. Hear what they’re saying and what they’re not saying. I won’t interrupt to talk over them. I will just listen.
2. Encourage – I will share with other mothers where I see them excelling, compliment their amazing strengths, and encourage them in their paths.
3. Discern – I will only offer advice if someone directly asks for it. Otherwise, I will go back to steps one and two.
4. Accept – I will appreciate the fact that other people’s lives and choices won’t – and shouldn’t – look just like mine. Choices are out there for a reason – we need them.

mommies-coexist

All of our decisions and choices will vary, just as our life experiences vary.

I am thoroughly impressed with Rachel’s personal Mommies Coexist Pledge and the positive steps she is taking to bring more understanding and grace to the world around her.

And if anyone is keeping score, I am thoroughly flawed. Just ask, and I will tell you far more than you want to know. ;)

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Written by Janice Croze, co-founder of 5 Minutes for Mom.

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Email Author    |    Website About Janice

Janice is co-founder of 5 Minutes For Mom. She's been working online since 2003 and is thankful her days are full of social media, writing and photography. You can see more of her photos at janicecrozephotography.com.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Robyn Wright of RobynsOnlineWorld.com January 19, 2012 at 11:44 am

I have been that mom on the side many times. Even with friends who realize my son has issues, the older he gets the less accepting they seem to be of it and it does feel like they are judging me sometimes. But admittedly, I find myself judging others too at times. I’ve been working really hard on that LISTEN part of those steps – I’m much better than I used to be, but I’ve got a long way to go.

Fantastic post – I pledge I will word harder at Coexisting!

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2 Leah Segedie January 19, 2012 at 12:48 pm

Flawed Moms unite YO! I just posted this to my Facebook wall. Here is what I wrote:

My girl Janice Croze is promoting a movement for moms. It’s to encourage other moms to STOP JUDGING EACH OTHER with their parenting decisions. I myself have a special needs child and before we had him diagnosed, the way I was treated by other mothers was atrocious. Here are two instances of cruelty: When my son was about 2.5 we had him in a special playgroup. The other mothers decided they were fed up with my son and all decided to give me the silent treatment and turn their back on me. They literally got in a circle and ignored us. I left crying and didn’t go back. And when my son was older in preschool, a group of mothers went to the school administrator and demanded that he be kicked out of school. Flash forward, he was diagnosed with Aspergers. I really had no control over a lot of the behaviors he exhibited that they thought I did have control over.

Be careful who you judge. You may have NO idea what the f*ck you are talking about.

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3 Gina January 19, 2012 at 1:03 pm

Thanks for posting this. My son has autism and I find a lot of people try to give me advice about everything. This is a great post. Thank you!

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4 Kelly {the Centsible Life} January 19, 2012 at 1:15 pm

This is amazing! You described the way I feel perfectly. Definitely sharing this info.

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5 Amber January 19, 2012 at 1:17 pm

Excellent post! As a teacher I see that among other parents as well as teachers. I found this post to be very enlightening and so true! We should always imagine as if we were walking in someone else’s shoes…all it takes is some perspective.

Thank you for posting this!!

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6 Rachel January 19, 2012 at 4:18 pm

I can’t thank you enough for passing this onward. I can only hope that we all can learn to do better, and maybe the accountability of saying we will can really make a difference! I certainly needed the accountability myself!

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7 Weight Loss Mother January 19, 2012 at 4:54 pm

I strongly agree with this because all parents have a different way off doing things. We must co-exist and learn from each other instead of trying to prove each other wrong all the time

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8 Apple Daniels January 19, 2012 at 10:57 pm

Great post Janice, although in some respects it kind of made me sad. I’m a mom of a special needs child as well. Not only that but a mom of multiples and a mom of 3 under 5. My way of parenting isn’t always the most PC, but I do what I can given my circumstances. I have two friends in particular that are REALLY judgmental. It’s not in an overt way, but it’s in a “I’m better than you” kind of way like “my 4 year old is potty trained” or “my 4 year old can do…” and it’s like “umm… okay well that’s good for you. you only have ONE 4 year old, you don’t have an infant, and you don’t have a special needs child.” Totally not using it as an excuse, but clearly we have different circumstances. I don’t know… didn’t mean to vent, but this post was right on time. I commented today on someone’s FB status about her mom watching the kids for her and it turned into this big thing about how her kids don’t do daycare (mine do part-time)… a mess!! Let me know how I can help. I’m SO on board with the campaign. As moms we should be supporting each other, not judging and tearing one another down.

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9 Tamara January 22, 2012 at 1:44 pm

Hooray for tolerance! None of us have any idea about what goes on in someone else’s life. Every person, every moment should practice loving-kindness and withhold judgement. As a (world) community, mothers and parents should support each other with empathy and understanding. No one is perfect. And no parent has total control of their children. We’re all just people, hopefully trying to be our best!

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