My heart pumped loudly as I braced myself for another battle. The smell of chlorine in the air. The child watch attendants back to check in another family that was willing and ready to go into the play room. But here, my son, my sweet and strong and defiant son was not willing to go in. He dashes out the door away from me- his newest escape from doing what he is told to do. Getting my work out in earlier than expected, I caught up with this 3 ft. tall road runner. I pick him up and calmly tried to talk with him. You know the usual…trying to convince him that “it will be fun”, “I will be right back”, “I will give you a lollipop,” etc. His face has shifted away from sweet little boy to angry defiant little man. He kicks as I hold him. Yells. Then brings out the big guns and starts hitting. One hit so humbling. A slap across the face. In public. As this happens, two younger moms with two sweet little girls walking beside them pass by to go put there sweet punkins’ into childwatch. The look on their faces was one I hate to see. Shock. And horror. You know the face, we have all done it as moms. “Oh I would never let my child do that!” Embarassed, I gathered myself, took a deep breath and went forward with putting him in childwatch. I felt so convicted of the many times, I have judged another parenting style or mothering technique. And this is where my rant begins… As mothers, we do the best we know how to do. And especially as a new mother, we are so lost and confused on what works and what doesn’t. For me, I so wanted to have just one style of parenting to work. And IT WOULD work for the whole family. I quickly learned, with each child we accumulated, how off I was. Every child, every family, every circumstance is so completely different. I had always heard “what works with one, may not work for the other.” But I never really got that until I lived it. And of course, with my first born, our way was the only right way. And Lord knows, if she ever threw punches my way, she would get a nice little time out and talking too! My point is I am so sick of judgement among mothers. We cast out our opinions like they are God given truths. Some of us mean well. But other’s (including myself) take our own philosophies and proclaim them as the end all be all. I wish someone would have taken me aside while I had just one or two kids and would have said, “Honey, you have no idea what works for that family. You are so naive.” I was that judgemental mommy (sorry to all my friends)… and how it breaks my heart to even judge another families’ ways. We are all different. Some families thrive off of attachment style parenting, some kids like Babywise, some kids love to nurse, some kids need formula because the mommy has to work or the baby has an issue with that consistency of food (happened here!), some mommies LIKE to work outside the home, some mommies love homeschool, some mommies adore bedtime and sweet little dirty bath times, some kids love being involved in play dates, some kids are independent, some kids have autism, some parents need time apart from their kids, some parents thrive on time as a family each second of the day, some co-sleep, some sleep in different rooms…life is just different for everyone. As my brother once told me after I complained about a cranky customer at Starbucks, “Kristin, you never know what their life has been like. Always be kind.” I think of that today as I see a mother at her wits end with a toddler refusing to leave the playground or listening to a baby scream in the store and the mother lookin’ worn thin. We never know what they deal with each day. Maybe there is a mental disorder or a dad deployed or a sister who was recently been the hospital. If I could go back in time and talk to myself as a mommy of just one little girl who judged other families, I would say, “Lighten up! and shut up. Let them be the mommy they are supposed to be. They are exactly what that little baby or babies need.” And I would tell myself, “Don’t ever say, ‘Oh I would never…’ because you know as soon as you say that, God will place that exact obstacle in your life for a growth experience.” As far as our hitting three year old, I humbly say, we are seeking help in this long process of helping him sort out some stuff. But at least we can say, “we need help” and we have sympathy for the families who have a harder time with physically strong willed kids. God has really opened our eyes and hope he continues to lead us on a path of understanding. My heart is for all those struggling mommies out there trying to figure out what is the best thing for your family. Trust your gut. Listen to your heart…to the still small voice of Him who made you and your baby/babies.