Over the weekend I went to a baby shower for my friend, Brittany. The guest list included several of her co-workers, a couple girls from church and me. It was interesting to realize that most of the moms at the shower had more than the guest of honor in common. They were all the natural, earthy, granola type.

Except me. You’ve met me, right? I’m not so much natural.

This didn’t bother me at all, although I didn’t offer up my opinions on epidurals, vaccinations or microwavable dinners. But even though Brittany said her favorite part of every birthing-related conversation was the look on my face [Let me put it this way: Because she and her friends work in a pregnancy center, they are very comfortable with discussing all aspects of the reproductive system. In detail.], I really did have a fun time meeting and talking with women who are very different mothers than me.

Because I’m open-minded and awesome like that. Right.

Well, I try to be. But sometimes it’s hard to remember that what works for one family may not work for another. And, really, most moms are just doing the best they can. Not to mention, I’m not exactly Mom of the Year myself! So I should really just keep my judgy-judgy attitude under wraps.

That’s easier said than done, of course. As you may recall, I struggled with this at Annalyn’s first preschool party in the fall. I took apple cider for the kids to drink, and another mom mocked my unhealthy choice of beverage. Looking back, I was irritated at her attitude, but I was also embarrassed and frustrated. I really do make a serious effort to feed Annalyn healthy foods and to teach her to make those choices for herself. But for a party – a special treat – I still think juice (even cider) is okay.

HOWEVER. (Yes, here’s the part where I become THAT mom . . .) After Christmas, I started realizing that processed, sugary snacks were nearly an everyday choice at the preschool, and special days where they allowed extra-sugary snacks were becoming more and more common. The situation was starting to stress me out – including the fact that I was just as guilty as any other parent of sending less than healthy snacks – and then Annalyn came home and told me that she’d had POP to drink during snack.

She has never had pop in her life! And her teachers served it for snack time?!?

Sometimes Annalyn is not the most credible of reporters, so I asked her to tell me more. She told me that her drink had bubbles (so, obviously it was pop) and that she didn’t like it. I decided to roll with the fact that she didn’t like it, and I told her that she shouldn’t drink pop anymore. I told her that pop isn’t good for kids. Then I told her that if someone offered her pop again, she should just say, “No, thank you. May I please have water instead?” Then we did a little role play practice to make sure she could say all that.

I felt like I was in an after-school special. And then I realized: I had become THAT mom.

My piece of [sugary] humble pie was complete later that week at the class Valentine’s party. I had told one of her teachers that I’d prefer that Annalyn didn’t drink pop for snack even on special days. So that morning as the kids were being served their party snacks, the other teacher pulled me aside and informed me that the mom in charge of drinks had brought punch. With Sprite.

She told me that they had juice boxes and asked if I wanted Annalyn to have one of those instead. I was so embarrassed and tried to shrug it off. But she said it was really not a problem. So I said that would be great and thanked her.

Then she pulled out a Capri Sun pouch (which, in my opinion, is NOT the same as juice) and squirted it into a cup for Annalyn.

As I stood there with about a dozen conflicting feelings, there was no doubt that I was THAT mom. Though I’m not sending organic cheddar bunnies to school with Annalyn for her own snack every day – and I still don’t think I’d ever mock another mom’s choice within her earshot – I’m really no different than the mom that irritated me so much last fall.

When it comes down to it, I realized that most of us are THAT mom (or THAT wife or THAT friend or THAT daughter) about something. I think the trick is realizing when our “thing” might make us THAT person and making sure we’re not disapproving of or judging others who don’t agree with our choices. I don’t mean that we should hide or bend on our most important beliefs, but it’s certainly possible to handle most situations with grace and understanding that not all parents (or preschool teachers) will feel the same way we do.

Have you ever been THAT mom (or wife or friend or whatever)? How do you handle being different gracefully and without judgment?

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