Hey there,

Yes, you! The stranger who just gave me the hard stare followed by the eye roll as my kid was having an epic melt down in the grocery store.

Yes, I did see the look you gave me, and now I’m going to make it weird.

Normally I’d let it go. And by “let it go” I mean turn my head so you couldn’t see the tears welling in my eyes as I rushed passed you to the parking lot.

But you know what? Today is different. I am really just over the judgment moms get from people, usually strangers who have the uncanny ability to make us suddenly start doubting ourselves like crazy.

So today I am going to let it go in a different way—and for the record, if me saying “let it go” as many times as I just did didn’t make you start singing to yourself like a blonde ice-queen… well that right there would be the first clue that you don’t understand anything about my life.

Here are a few of the things I am done being judged about:

The way my children act in public.

Okay, so when you saw me, I looked like a hot mess (I felt like one too, for the record—more on that in a minute).

My shopping cart had seemingly taken on a mind of its own and was trying its best to spin in circles on a faulty wheel. My diaper bag was expelling its contents onto the floor, including that half eaten McDonald’s cheeseburger that my kid apparently stuffed in there earlier today (I mean…er… someone else’s kid? We don’t eat McDonalds, of course ?). My child was screaming like a pterodactyl on a roller coaster, and I wasn’t even trying to maintain my grace.

So yeah, it was all a bit messy.

But here’s the thing… things, actually.

1. He’s. A. Child. I know his behavior was disruptive (believe me, I KNOW). But he doesn’t know. All he knows is that he’s thirsty, and mommy wouldn’t let him bring home the most beautiful red race car he’s ever seen… since leaving home 30 minutes ago where he has three more like it.

He doesn’t know how to process his big feelings. I will not make him feel guilty for that. I will take deep breaths, and I will love him through this. Every single time, even when you are annoyed.

2. I refuse to hide. I am not going to excuse myself from society for the next six years while I wait for my children’s brains to develop to a point where they can behave “appropriately” in a store, just so that you can feel a little more comfortable on your shopping trip. If I do that, they’ll never learn how to behave, and I will actually lose my mind.

3. And you know what? Maybe I’m okay with my kids acting like this in public. Is it embarrassing? Yes. Does it make my day 1,000 times harder? Yes.

But I’ve spent my entire life making sure the outside—the way I present myself to the world—is polished and shiny and doesn’t offend anyone… and it’s exhausting.

I want my kids to have the self-assuredness to show the world their true, raw selves, and to stand-up for themselves—even if that means that, for now, they’re standing up in the shopping cart screaming in a pterodactyl-like fashion.

How I look.

Once upon a time, I was at my ideal weight.

Once upon a time, I followed trends.

Once upon a time, I got little pieces of paper with phone numbers on them.

Well once upon a time doesn’t hold a candle to me now.

This body birthed and fed babies, cuddles them when they’re sad and kisses them whenever I get the chance. To them, my body is home.

My clothes aren’t new or shiny, but they wrap me in comfort and warmth while I spend my day playing, cooking, cleaning, caring, working… and the hundreds of other things that my powerful body allows me to do.

I don’t get too many any phone numbers these days, but I do get little misspelled love notes written in crayons, and crumpled dandelions handed to me on a regular basis. No comparison.

Once upon a time I spent a lot of time trying to make my body what other people wanted it to be—skinny, sexy, shiny. Then, for a while, my body turned itself over to the art of growing babies. And now, my body is mine.

As far as I’m concerned it’s more than enough. So I’ll thank you very much to take your opinions about my body—and anyone’s body for that matter—elsewhere.

My parenting style.

I am a parent every second of every day. Today you saw me parent for a small fraction of time in the grand scheme of life. You don’t see what my life is like most of the time.

This moment, the one in which you’ve made a snap-judgment about me and my parenting, is a culmination of everything—the two parenting books I’ve already read this month (with totally different views), my mom’s advice, that thing the pediatrician said last week, not to mention my fatigue, my joy, my overwhelm.

So whether you thought I handled things poorly or well really doesn’t matter, because unless you are me, raising my children, you don’t have the right to judge.

I already spend my days questioning everything I do—I don’t need your questioning glances on top of it.

Besides, it’s all way more complicated than that.

I don’t fit into a category. No mom does. Your judgment of us is on you, not us.

I am a mom-boss-with-her-own-company-who-also-picks-up-her-kids-from-school-almost-every-day mom.

I am a local-farmer’s-market-shopping-McDonald’s-wrapper-hiding-I-feed-my-kids-any-darn-way-they’ll-eat mom.

I am an attachment-parenting-try-to-stay-calm-but-sometimes-lose-my-cool mom.

I am a pterodactyl-wrangling-hug-loving-dandelion-receiving-messy-imperfect-beautiful mom.

I am many things. And in none of those things, is your judgment involved.