I judged a mom today.

I judged a mom today.

I did. I judged another mother.

Treat others how you want to be treated.

Don’t judge a person before you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.

Yeah, I know. I still did it. My jaw dropped. She probably heard my teeth slam together in an effort not to show my judgement. I didn’t confront her. I didn’t say a word. She wasn’t harming her daughter in any way I could see – other than her tween daughter will hate her in a few years and leave as soon as she’s 18.

I’m judging again. I’ll stop.

I took Emma to the orthodontist.

Some parents sit in the receptionists’ waiting area and some sit in the extra chair provided near the dental chair. I like to sit with Emma and discuss where we should play hooky before taking her back to school.

The row of dental chairs are separated by a free-standing, frosted glass window. There is no privacy. The orthodontist made her rounds. She examined the patient next to Emma.

Orthodontist: Oh! Look how nicely these are coming along.

Mom: Uh, huh. Can we take them off now?

Orthodontist: Oh, she still needs more time. We still need to fix her bite and then we’ll fine tune.

Mom: Can you take them off, please?

Orthodontist: We never hold anyone hostage with braces. But I am not recommending this. Her treatment is not complete.

Mom: Yes, I know. I would like my daughter to have an imperfect smile. You know? I don’t want her to have perfectly straight teeth. It shows character if her teeth are not perfect.

I looked at Emma. My mouth dropped. I tipped back in my chair to get a better look at the mom and daughter.

Emma: (whispers) Mom, stop!

Me: I want to see them.

Emma: How old is the girl?

Me: Your age? Maybe a little younger?

The daughter stared at her hands in her lap while her mom argued with the orthodontist.

Mom: I never wanted her teeth to be straight. I just want them almost straight.

Orthodontist: We can take them off today if this is what you and your daughter wish. Please understand that the price doesn’t change, whether you paid in full or are making payments.

Mom: Yes, I know. Please remove them.

If I thought this was best for my daughter and this was something my daughter wanted, by all means, judge me. Walk in my shoes. Write about me on your blog.

I have the feeling this wasn’t the daughter’s wish.

How long does a parent have control over how their child looks? Even if the daughter wanted straight teeth, she probably wasn’t paying for the braces herself. Braces are a luxury, in most cases. I’m not sure the daughter ever had a say at all.

A parent can somewhat control how a child looks when they’re young. A baby is a little doll you can dress up even if the doll keeps you up all night, shoots yellow poop up the back of the cute outfit you bought from Target, and rips out every hair bow you place on her head. And Emma still won’t let me style her gorgeous curls.

When does a parent cross the line? Deciding where bones should be – teeth are bones, right? Straight but not too straight teeth? 

I’m not the greatest mom. I yell at my kids in public. I’m sure I’ve put them in danger by road-raging my way to the grocery store. I rarely watch any gymnastics practice. I’m cool with making chocolate chip cookies for dinner when Scott is out of town. I show my daughter it’s ok to eavesdrop and judge others. I don’t want to have more kids because, well, I’m just done. 

Emma: Mom?

Me: Yeah, Em.

Emma: Thanks for letting me keep my braces on. I’m glad you’re not like that other mom. You’re the best.

I judged a mom today because sometimes you need a shot of adrenaline in the arm to let you know you’re doing ok.


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20 thoughts on “I judged a mom today.

  1. The mom sounds like a nut. I have a feeling it was a power struggle, maybe daughter not doing what she’s supposed to, and mom says if you’re not going to take care of them I’ll have them removed. Regardless of reasoni think the mom is wrong.


    1. Oh, yeah I could see that – if the daughter isn’t take care of them. I would threaten that too. I’m not sure if I would tell the orthodontist that I wanted her to have an imperfect smile. I would probably tell the ortho the truth (and in most cases, I bet the dentist and ortho would step in and help in that case).


  2. I’ve had the privilege to step into the houses of thousands of people over the course of my career and it still hits me from time to time how different we all are, especially in how we live behind closed doors. Maybe the mom and the girl have been butting heads over the braces for a long time. Maybe the daughter wants them off and the mom is trying to take the heat. Or, maybe the mom is just being ridiculous. Who knows? It seems weird to start braces and not see it through to the end. Now she might grow up to be a 30 something woman who gets braces in her mouth and we all know how fruit those gals are. Lol.


  3. I feel the idea that we “should NEVER judge” is just bogus. Of course we don’t know all the details, but… really?? We should just nod along when a mother says she’s cutting short an expensive, lengthy, painful orthodontic treatment for the sake of character building? LOL NO. At a certain point, judgement is what keeps us all from going off the deep end.

    Can you imagine the frustration of the orthodontist?!


    1. We all judge, whether we admit or not. I judged. She made me feel like a better mom because of it.
      Oh, I could see “the look” of the orthodontist’s face. That must be infuriating to stop what you’re paid to do. It doesn’t give the ortho a good name either when people ask where she got her braces.


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