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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