Mom Defense

Recently, I had a chat with one of my best girlfriends who is in the Inquisition Stage of having a baby. (You know that stage, the one where you pin down your nearest friend who just transformed from a fabulous hostess and party goer to a sleepless zombie and ask her all of the questions that terrify you about the entire process of hatching a chick of your own.) Her questions ran the gamut from When is the last time you got a real manicure? (answer: the day my water broke) to What if I want to only have one baby? (answer: go for it! one is hard enough, I can't imagine 3 or 4!). As she picked up speed on the Inquisition, I could tell her defenses were already up, assuming I was going to dispel some sort of New Mom Judgement on her current ideas and thoughts of how she might choose to mother her (as yet to be conceived) offspring. 

It became clear to me that I needed to share with her the one thing that I have become certain about in the last 15 weeks: None of it is wrong. 

That's right. 
None of it is wrong.

If you breastfeed or formula feed, pump or nurse, love your sling or rock your stroller, go back to work or stay home, own your own business or spend nap time writing a blog, want to have one baby or four, hope your husband takes paternity leave or that your parents don't want to stay in your house the first week of your baby's life, love your day care or hire a nanny, kiss your baby on the lips or stick to the forehead, none of it is wrong. 

In my opinion, the fact that a girl even considers these things already makes her a good mom. The fact that we stay up at night watching our baby's chest rise and fall makes us good moms. The fact that we went to the OBGYN and answered the world's most awkward questions to make sure we were ready physically to conceive makes us good moms. And don't get me started on what we go through just to keep our baby healthy and floating around in that amniotic sac for 40 weeks. 
That, for sure, makes us good moms. 

So why was she worried that I might judge her for her hopes and dreams of what her family might look like? Because mine might be different? So what?

My job as her friend, and fellow human producer, is to support her in her decisions for what is best for her future pack of hooligans. My job is to tell her she is doing a great job, what gas drops will rescue her in the middle of an endless night of fussing and what Etsy shop has the best newborn sized orange leather mocs. 

I had a moment this weekend where I desperately needed another mom to throw me the life raft that only a fellow mama can throw. 

We took our baby to his first college football game.

I was prepared. 

I had strategized exactly what to pack, anticipated what he would need and plotted our day in the hopes that everyone would survive in one piece.

We were in Boston so we took a car from our hotel to an area near the stadium to meet our friends and grab drinks and a bite to eat before the game. We had our stroller/carseat combo so the baby would ride safely in the taxi and I had the Bjorn so I could wear him throughout the day.
When we arrived at the restaurant to meet our friends, it was clear that it was not baby friendly.

At all.

We had to have the manager stash our car seat and stroller in a corner by the bar ATM, I had to strap the baby in the Bjorn in front of a crowd of on lookers and strangers kept trying to buy my husband shots for being a cool dad. I can assure you there were no women trying to buy me shots for being a cool mom. I have never felt so damn judged in my entire life, and trust me, I know some judgy bitches (and have been one myself, many, many times). 

Thankfully, we were able to get a table on the patio which was much slower paced and out of the way - I was just starting to relax and look forward to seeing our friends when it began to rain. Yep, rain. 
A cold, Boston in the Fall, rain. 

The inside of the bar was deafeningly loud and even though I had infant noise canceling headphones, I just wasn't brave enough to go stand in there with my 3 month old. So instead, I asked a table of guys if I could stand with my baby under their table's umbrella. (Our table was sans umbrella, of course.) So there I stood, by myself, holding my baby, under an umbrella, next to a table of middle aged men drinking too much before a college football game. 

And I cried.

I cried because I was That Mom. The one who had her kid at the most inappropriate place possible and people were staring at me. Judging me, assuming I am a terrible mother. They had no idea that my baby was sleeping like a rock or that I packed 4 extra layers of clothes or spent hours finding the smallest pair of noise canceling headphones on earth to keep his eardrums safe. And to say that I had my Mom Defenses up would be the understatement of the century. I just knew what they were thinking. Whether they were or they weren't - whether they were actually looking at me because they wished they were the one holding a sweet, healthy babe, they liked my scarf or because they thought the baby was cute - it didn't matter, I just knew they were judging me as a mother. And frankly, I was judging myself. Hard. 

I knew our friends were making their way through the pulsing bar music and the huge crowd of young, single, childless people and, thankfully, one couple has a one year old son (who they wisely left at home with the grandparents). I waited desperately for my fellow baby mama to show up and tell me that it was all ok, that I wasn't the worst mom on the planet. At that point, it wouldn't have mattered if my husband said I wasn't ruining our son's life or if the waitress smiled and said I was ok and not in her way, I needed another mom's reassurance.

Our friend Laura showed up to find me standing under that umbrella and told me just what I needed to hear: 

she took their baby to a bar on St. Patrick's Day when he was exactly Gray's age. 

She could have easily said that they never brought their son out when he was so young, or he never went with them to football games or around large crowds or that I was an idiot of having Gray outside when there was a 10% chance of rain, but she didn't. She supported me, without judgement. 

I hope I never forget how that made me feel - that when a girlfriend decides to do something in a different way than I would - that I support her, without judgement. That I let her know that she doesn't have to have her Mom Defenses up around me, that I love her and her baby, and I know she's got this whole mom thing in the bag. 


  1. What a great post. All so true! Ugh I hate that I used to judge moms... Until I had my own and now I believe there's no right or wrong way :) we are all just doing our best! Xo

  2. I love this post. It gave me goosebumps. I don't have any kiddos of my own yet but I try to be as supportive as possible to my mommy friends. And to those mommies that aren't friends of mine too. Because that's what I hope for when I join the club! You're doing great :)

  3. Such a beautiful post, Stephanie!

  4. Such a great post! I definitely needed this reminder as I find myself slipping into a judgement spiral. Thank you for being so honest!

  5. Beautiful post and beautiful baby! I love reading your blog, especially now that I'm a new mom! Thanks Stephanie!

  6. I completely agree with you that all mamas should support all mamas. Nothing more refreshing than hearing a fellow mama say, "I've been there," or, "I'm there right along with you."

    You never know what a situation will be like until you're there. We brought Freddy to dinner with us on our anniversary and had to ask for the entrees to be boxed up because he couldn't stop crying, when previously he would usually sleep. Anniversary fail, but we lived and learned - babysitters from now on! Same thing with babies on planes - you never know if there will be a delay, a cancellation, if baby will take the nap, if baby will miraculously get their own seat, if they'll be entertained during the flight. Moms should not judge other moms, we beat ourselves up enough.

    But Gray does look adorable in his hat and headphones...!!!!

  7. Big hug to you, mama! Gray looks so cute!

  8. I could not agree more, love this post!!

  9. This all resonates with me so much! Society tells us not to take our babies to a bar, but to also not stop living our life and get stuck in a rut at home. People will judge you no matter what you do, and it's unfair considering they don't know the circumstances. My babe had an epic blowout at Trader Joe's this weekend, and I had to get her all cleaned up in their single-person bathroom. It took about 10 minutes, and when I came out people were glaring at me! It made me feel uncomfortable for all of 2 seconds, until I realized that it's not my fault that TJs only has one bathroom, and I wasn't about to let my baby sit in her own poop. :)

  10. Love this post! None of what you did was wrong, nor should you have felt bad in anyway! You're an amazing mama! I'm so glad you had a friend to support you when you needed it, that makes a world of a difference. And I love that hat on Gray with his headphones, perfect baby blues!

  11. Loved reading this. Thanks for sharing your story, your heart, and your wisdom so authentically, mama! xx

  12. We take our baby out pretty much every where we go (a wine festival this past weekend). I think it's good to get them out and exposed to the world! Grayson loves it and if someone wants to judge me that's fine....I know I'm a great mom and so are you! :)

  13. Love this post! I'm not a mom yet, but I love that you shared what is so true - none of it is wrong! This is a great reminder to all of us to support other women and moms!

  14. Thank you for this post! I'm 36 weeks pregnant and your blog has already helped me navigate through this pregnancy. I'm overwhelmed, scared, and yesterday I spent a good bit of the day judging myself for being an awful mom already. So this post is just what I needed.

  15. I think many of us have felt this exact way! I have! Great post and I admire your honesty. I will say, that "judging myself" and worrying what others were always thinking (if my baby starts crying, if she gets fussy because she want to sleep in her crib and we are out, if she gets overstimulated) really had a negative impact on my first months as a mom. I was always dreading taking her out.. I was always fearing everything and wanted everything to be and look perfect. My daughter is now almost 2 and I am 4 months pregnant with my second. I know I will have hard times again as I am aiming toward exclusively breastfeeding (even in public) and I didn't do anything of that with my first. I have a lot more goals and am trying to prepare myself for a new mindset. I don't want to look back again and wish I would have just relaxed a little more. This is MY time as a mommy to these precious babies and I will only have the this small for so long. I know it is easier said than done (trust me, I do) but let's all try and breathe deep together and remind ourselves that we are all in this together and doing the same things all over the world. I support you, mama! Let's not worry about anyone else ;)
    Thanks again for that reminder with this post. XO

  16. Oh gosh this post broke my heart a little. I couldn't agree with you more there are so many way to do something, and so many different ways to do it correctly. I think I am even realizing it moreso now as a mama that the support of other moms is so incredibly important. So much less important than comparing how you stack up against other moms. I wish I could have been there for you with my baby in her wrap. I would have bought you a beer, clinked it with you and befriended the table with old men and an umbrella. xoxo

  17. This was an awesome post. Since I don't have kids yet I'm totally that person who judges moms. Whenever I see kids screaming in Target I always think get your kids together or don't bring them in the store. I know that sounds harsh but I don't know any different. This post made me realize I need to put myself in her shoes. One day I'm going to be that lady who will probably bring her baby into a bar and it's doesn't matter what anyone else thinks. I love your real life posts. We're going to be trying next year and I know it's going to be a whole different ball game. Keep it up, you're doing an awesome job!

  18. Thank you so much for posting this. It was so well written and exactly what women need to hear. I am not a mom yet, but we are trying and there are so many questions and fears that have been surfacing. It's nice to know that there are other moms out there who want to uplift and inspire rather than judge. It seems to me you're doing an amazing job. Keep on rocking it!

  19. Omg, that picture of him in the headphones is really freaking cute :) But thanks so much for sharing this! Here in Portland, there are a lot of breweries that are kind of a fine line between bar and restaurant and so I definitely anticipate being in a similar situation down the road and hopefully someone will be supportive to me then :) And not gonna lie, I am totally that person who can be judgmental because I don't have kids, but I know I'm about to get a big dose of reality in just over a month and I'm hoping I can be supportive of others too because I know I'm going to have a LOT to learn ;)

  20. aww good friends are the BEST! im glad she was there for you. i know im going to probably second guess myself a LOT when i have a baby but you're right there are no "correct" answers. and we all have to wing it, but this is such a good reminder to be KIND to other mamas and hold off on the judgement. xo jillian

  21. Thank you so much for this post! You are not alone in you feelings. You are a wonderful mom, clearly. It is nice to know that I am not the only new mom who feels this way. You always look so perfect in your Instagram pictures. It is nice to know that you are a real person with insecurities just like the rest of us. Just felt like I was being judged while buying formula for my 12 week old the other day. I think us moms need to be more kind to one another and ourselves and more open. Thank you for your recent, honest posts on your experience as a fellow new-mom.


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