I've considered this idea quite a bit lately... living in harmony as a mom, and particularly what that looks like when interacting with other moms and their children. You hear about that mom that's always fighting the principal saying, "MY child would never do that!" or the mom who always is blaming other children, "Oh Johnny, don't worry about that... it's not your fault, it's HIS fault" or the mom who always is bragging on her child, "My child was first in this, and beat all the other kids in this, and excels 5 grade levels higher in this..." I know I don't want to be that mom. But I'm beginning to understand exactly how much grace is involved once you start interacting a lot with other parents. I especially find it difficult to not let my pride creep in.
I want to recognize that other parents have different parenting styles, and perhaps mine is not the only way or the best way. I also want to recognize that my child is capable of making bad choices and mistakes. And she will.
I have chosen a parenting style that I really like... it includes things such as natural birthing, breastfeeding, cloth diapering, cry it out, separate sleeping (no co-sleeping), disciplining, delayed vaccinations, and delay in offering solid foods (wait until 5 or 6 months). While I am happy that I have found a parenting style that I love and am comfortable with and that works well for us, I have found it equally difficult to not be judgmental toward those that choose a different parenting style. I often have to take a step back and check my motives. And often, I find that I'm pushing an agenda that isn't significant in the end. Sure, I really love saving money with cloth diapers and am happy to not be adding disposables to landfills... but in light of eternity, does a parent's choice to use disposables really matter? No. Sure, I am proud, happy, and relieved that letting Sophie cry herself to sleep a few times has made her a great sleeper. But if a parent chooses to not let his or her child cry to sleep, does it really matter in the light of eternity? Nope, probably not. I'm thankful that God is helping me to see these situations realistically. I still love to share my opinion, but I'm learning to ask God to give me wisdom in this. Sometimes people don't care about my opinion. Sometimes people don't need my opinion. And sometimes I just need to be more careful about how I share my opinion. It's good for me to recognize this because I don't want to ruin good relationships by being judgmental of others' parenting styles.
Now that Sophie is older, walking, and gaining more of a personality, she also is making choices that I have to watch closely. She recently likes to do this thing where she chases someone around and then pushes on them (her version of tag). This works and is super cute with adults, but it doesn't work so well with another 1 year-old. I'm having to make choices so that I don't offend other parents. I also have to make choices to hold my tongue when other parents say something to Sophie. I'm amazed at how quickly I can become defensive. Sometimes I realize it's good another parent asks Sophie to give something back or to be more gentle because, to be honest, I just wasn't watching her actions close enough. And other times parents say or do something that involves Sophie that I don't particularly care for, but I recognize that for the sake of our friendship, I should just brush it aside.
I'm learning quickly that being a parent... especially being a mom who lives in harmony with other moms... involves a lot of tongue-biting and slow reactions. I am thankful for the opportunity to be Sophie's mom, and I am thankful that God is teaching me how to live in harmony with others through this position he has allowed me to have.