Yesterday at E’s softball game I has a conversation with another Navy wife who has a four year old son and another on the way (and possibly a teenage son? His relationship was clearly familial but he might have been her brother. I didn’t want to ask due to potential age-difference awkwardness). She was…very vocal about her parenting decisions and what she thought of other people’s choices. She was conductor of the no holds barred judgement train and the station was nowhere in sight. This is the first time I’ve encountered such a person in the real world (i.e. not the interwebs) and I was a little stunned.

I’ve gotten into the habit of bringing my nursing cover and a lawn chair to the games so I can feed Baby Evan fairly discretely. Navy bases tend to be heavily male and I am often the only woman in attendance so I just feel more comfortable under my cover. Plus the games are really loud and when the baby gets distracted and whips his head around to see what the cheering is about it’s nice to not have my boob flapping in the wind for all of E’s coworkers to see. Not a single guy has ever made a comment or done anything that made me uncomfortable. But this woman seemed to see my public breastfeeding as an opening to start a formula vs. breast discussion. She plans to do both. She sees no reason why breastfeeding is so much better, her older son had formula and he’s totally fine. She doesn’t have the energy to commit to breastfeeding all the time. Her grandmother had 10 kids and they all had formula. She’s not like me and wouldn’t want to nurse in public.I could practically FEEL the judgments rolling off her and it took everything I had not to start my “breast is best” lecture, especially when she started talking about how expensive it was to have a baby. Breastmilk is free, Judgey McJudgerpants.

But her opinions didn’t end with what seems to be the most controversial of baby topics. She had something to say about everything. Her friend gave her a bunch of boy clothes after she found out she was having a girl, how dare she think her baby was too good for boy clothes? If her baby was spitting up like my baby was (FYI we had just come from the doctor – again – who said he is fine) she would go to the emergency room. Not teaching your children to say “sir” and “ma’am” is akin to child abuse. Potty training should be finished by 3 years old and children who have accidents just have lazy parents. And my absolute favorite: The best cure for Baby Evan’s teething pains? Jack Daniels. What, her grandma did it and she had 10 kids!

Am I just as judgey as she is for thinking giving alcohol to your infant makes you a terrible parent? Maybe. But I would never say it to her face. And I definitely know better than to make blanket parenting statements to mothers I know nothing about. It’s a pretty fair guess to say that raving about the new $15 organic baby massage oil would be welcomed at my breastfeeding support group but met with confused stares elsewhere. You have to know your audience before you talk about a lot of baby topics: cloth diapers, baby-wearing, vaccinations, co-sleeping, breastfeeding, homeschooling…some people feel really strongly about this stuff. I’ve been lucky to find a lot of like-minded women in my friends – both real and internet – and my close family, but even we don’t agree on everything. Although I’m pretty sure my grandma would support my use of teething tablets over a shot of Jack.

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