The SanctiMommy

A business trip to Universal Orlando Resort may sound awesome, and compared to some of the locales I’ve traveled for work (sorry, Milwaukee readers–nothing personal), I suppose it is. But when you’re away from your kid for an entire week, it’s a tough place to be. Everywhere I look there are kids. And sippy cups. And diaper bags. And more kids. And other reminders of how while the mommies of the world are being mommies, I am here missing my daughter’s new words and wobbly steps and awkward kisses.

Resilient as I am, however, I making excellent use of this opportunity to silently observe mothers and their children from the sidelines.

And judge them.

I don’t consider myself a particularly judgmental person. I am opinionated, indeed, but not entirely judgmental. There’s a difference. The opinionated mom says, “all mothers should at least try to breastfeed.” The judgmental mom says, “if you don’t try to breastfeed, you will be doomed to whichever circle of hell forces you to listen to David Hasselhoff crooning Muskrat Love for the rest of eternity.” (You may also be forced to have sex with Danny Bonaduce, which, according to the hilarious comments on my last post, is apparently the innermost circle of hell.)

Yesterday in the gift shop of the hotel, a trio of boys were whining for “just one Snickers” before breakfast. “Well, okay, just one,” the mom said finally giving in. “I don’t want you too hyper before breakfast.”

And I couldn’t help myself. I rolled my eyes big–really big–with the hopes that anyone looking in my direction at that moment could see just how awesome I am.

Oh my God – I acted like a Sanctimommy.

I had first heard about this breed of mothers on message boards. She’s the type who snorts in your direction when you feed your daughter french fries in the diner, or who tsks you as you walk past her with your pacifier-sucking three year old. She won’t hesitate to comment on you kid’s lack of hat when the temperature dips to 59, or to make a scene over the non-organic produce in your fridge. She has read every baby book, and has decided that her expert of choice is the expert and that heeding any other parenting theories is akin to worshipping false idols. Don’t even get her started on the real hotbutton mommywar issues like Ferberizing or circumcizing or ear piercing.

I hate this woman.

And yet once in a while, I think I am her. Just a teeny bit.

I’m sure some degree of judgmentalism is natural; an easy way to level our own insecurities about the choices we make as parents. Well I can’t be all that bad–my daughter might not own a winter jacket yet, but at least I don’t let her go to the playground with snot running down her face like SOME people.

But when it’s taken to the level that I took it to yesterday–a big dramatic eyeroll for the benefit of bystanders over a candy bar–well that’s just wrong. It’s not who I want to be.

The best advice I ever got about parenting was from my own mother. She told me that every decision you will make as a parent is right, and every decision you will make as a parent is wrong. Once you learn that, you’re golden.

And boy, she nailed it.

There is no one right way to do anything. Hell, we could find out in fifty years that the levels of mercury and lead in our own bodies is so high that breastfeeding is actually far worse than formula. Science changes, parenting theories evolve, new experts spring up with ideas that we never considered before.

Which is partially why I get absolutely incensed when I see some of the Sanctimommies springing up on controversial blog posts or message board forums, attacking others in the cruelest fashion, under the protective veil of internet anonymity. I have observed the abhorrent “I feel sorry for your kids” response applied equally to working moms, single moms, and moms who feed their children American cheese singles. I’ve seen women who sleep train called child abusers (raising hand here). I have even seen a blog comment in which a woman insisted that those who choose to circumcise their sons deserve to have their children taken away. Taken away!

Where’s the perspective?

Here’s the great irony: The true Sanctimommy, the really sanctimonious, dogmatic, holier-than-though, unyielding type–there is no breed of mother more deserving of an eyeroll than she.

While the Sanctimommy is quick to deem others unfit mothers based on (really, in the end) superficial decisions like the cleanliness of a child’s nose or the YoBaby in the grocery cart, she’s reluctant to look as closely at herself. At her own attitude. At what seems to me to be anger and angst and a general unhappiness directed at a world around her which she can’t control.

The image of Carrie’s mom springs to mind.

Call me crazy, but I’d rather raise my kids in a happy, loving household with Dora on the tv and Cheerios on the dinner table than to have them grow up in the presence of an uptight, judgmental mom with her shoulders up to her ears and no ability to distinguish the grey areas that comprise 90% of life.

And so I’m going to try and do better. When I find my eyebrows suddenly raised an inch above their normal resting position upon seeing a five year-old with a pacifier, or a toddler taking a sip of her parents’ Coke, or a little boy sporting a mullet (oh God, this one is going to be the hardest) I’m going to remember my mother’s other great advice: Will this matter in a year? In ten years?

It won’t matter to me, that’s for sure.

But there will still be no Snickers before breakfast. That right is solely reserved for the pregnant among us.

 

{107 Comments}

107 thoughts on “The SanctiMommy”

  1. Love the Sanctimommy moniker. Lately, I’ve also heard cases of “Drive-By Parenting.” That’s when some obnoxious busybody is unable to resist the urge to tell you how to parent your child. In most cases, they tend to utter some snide remark under their breath (“You shouldn’t give children Snickers for breakfast”) and then walk away before you can say anything. I’ve yet to experience but, in a weird say, I’m almost looking forward to it.

  2. I totally let my three year old drink from my Diet Coke (the Horror!), so that made me laugh, because I don’t consider myself a parent who deserves eye rolls. But who does? Even my neighbor who shrieks at her children constantly, and in the nastiest ways (like there is a non-nasty way to shriek. hmmm), goes off on parents of “biters” or fat kids–yeah, she’s lovely. You’re envious of my neighbor karma, I can tell.My newest stupid pet peeve: kids who seem to have perma bed head. I don’t know why it bothers me. When I was a child, I think I went for weeks without re-braiding my hair, so I should be completely down with the snarls of others. But it bugs. And I know why it exists: that parent picked a different battle. Hell, my youngest was out in public for hours yesterday wearing a ballet outfit over tights and pants. But her hair was brushed.

  3. Right on the mark there, my dear. And just you wait until your kid is a teen. Oooooh, the shit flies from the Sanctiparents when a kid screws up. My Molly took the PSAT recently. She’s a sophomore but she wanted to see how she would do. Moll told me that some of her friends’ parents are guaranteed to freak if they didn’t score high enough. YES! Parents of sophomores are nervouse about the PSAT scores! The PRELIMINARY Scholastic Achilevement Test!(By the way, the media’s calling these parents with their undies in a wedge ‘Helicopter Parents’, hovering over their kids, watching their every move until college and beyond)Mom101, thanks for allowing me use of your bandwidth for this therapeutic primal scream.

  4. Oh shit, are we not supposed to let our kids eat Kraft singles? That’s it, I suck.I admit that my husband and I can be Sanciparents from time to time (get your four year old out of the damn stroller and let him walk for chrissake!) but I know that whatever judgement I pass will someday come back and bite me on the ass. Will I be that mother who insists her four year old sit in a stroller just to get some last minute Christmas shopping done? Yeah, I think there’s a good chance.

  5. before i was a parent i was SOOO judgemental.what kids ate, watched, drank, how messy they looked, how they ran around like maniacs…i’m MUCH less judge-y now..i still judge sometimes…but now i know better. i know that sometimes your five-year-old goes out in crocs in the dead of winter, and sometimes your son drinks pop, and sometimes Dora is the only answer, and sometimes macaroni and cheese IS a good breakfast option…

  6. Spot on, as usual.I grew up “in the presence of an uptight, judgmental mom with her shoulders up to her ears and no ability to distinguish the grey areas that comprise 90% of life.” And yet, there are so many areas in which we were practically neglected!So, yeah, I’ll pick my battles. And I’ll give a nasty snarl the next time someone visibly scoffs about my very tall, but not-even-three-year-old wearing diapers.

  7. It seems like this issue is permeating our generation, where the focus is not on children living their lives to the fullest, but rather who the best children are according to what they are not allowed to do. It’s like somehow the template of Martha Stewart Mothering became the ‘best’ way to parent. When Suburban Bliss was talking about cocktail playgroups, it really got me thinking on this issue of how we are raising our children and why this generation is already having problems with obesity:http://annenahm.com/?p=210Your post brings these issues up as well. Thanks for sharing.

  8. I do not feel sorry for those kids. I want so badly to <>be<> one of those kids (in Orlando? with a pre-breakfast snickers? GOD.) I can hardly stand it.But the urge to judge is mighty and difficult to resist, no? And judging is fun.I love your take on this.

  9. Oh god. You reminded me of how being Sanctimommy once came back to bite me squarely in my ass.One of my earliest posts was about a mother at the pool who had told her kid to get down from the slide, and instead he went down and the lifeguard had to jump in and haul him out. I wrote that I’d be damned if a lifeguard ever had to save my kid because of my impotence.This past summer? At the same pool? My kid? Bounced herself into water over her head, and the lifeguard had to jump in and haul her out.I was mortified. But I’ve been cured of my Sanctimommy tendencies.

  10. A to the Men.Judgement is always reserved for the insecure. And although we ALL have issues with judgment we must also shut the fuck up and be a little more tolerant. We all have different style. And tricks up our sleeve. And the hypothetical Snickers bar.

  11. I think we’ve all got our sanctimommy moments – it’s how we handle them.Me, I just make incredibly snide remarks under my breath and then go back to feeding my daughter marshmallow ghosts.Ah. Hypocrisy. It’s the new black.

  12. Can I just say DITTO?(There was some Sanctimommy weirdness on my last post, about struggling with the issue of whether to go for Baby #2 – an anonymous someone slapped my wrists for harping on the guilt, and then informed me that I would be letting my child down if I did not give her a sibling. Which, yes, made my already-guilty self feel like shit for even contemplating stopping at one child.)(Which reminds me – where are the Snickers bars for angsty non-pregnant women?)

  13. Question: At what point does it become our business? I’ll agree that a snickers bar can go without social comment, and I think we can all agree that egregious child abuse must be dealt with, but what about the area in between? Where’s the line?Just curious what folks think.

  14. See, now, I am a vegetarian who loves to shop at Whole Foods and Trader Joes. I read the ingredients on everything I put into my cart. And if I could get my kid to eat a Snickers bar for breakfast, I would. If I could get my kid to eat a pint of Haagen Daaz or a slice of cheesecake or a triple cheeseburger for breakfast, I would. Of course I wouldn’t let him eat those things for breakfast every day, but if he requested such a thing once, and then actually ate it, I would consider it a gift from the calorie gods. Because I live in bizarro kid nutrition land, with a child so thin that several doctors have encouraged me to feed him the exact opposite of what most people are supposed to feed their kids. Sugar? Fat? Egregious excess calories of both kinds? Bring it on (as long as it’s balanced with nutritious foods at other points in the day).After dealing with my own child’s feeding issues, I think very hard about criticizing what I see other parents feeding their kids.Although I will only feed my son the ORGANIC cheese puffs, thank you very much ;)I think we all get a little Sanctimommy sometimes. Thanks for the reminder to watch the glass walls of our own houses.

  15. <>Call me crazy, but I'd rather raise my kids in a happy, loving household with Dora on the tv and Cheerios on the dinner table than to have them grow up in the presence of an uptight, judgmental mom with her shoulders up to her ears and no ability to distinguish the grey areas that comprise 90% of life.<>A-freakin’-men.

  16. A couple years ago, husband and I started a parenting message board site. It had a pretty large and active population. Sanctimommies LOVE sites like that, and some of the stuff that was said, er, posted, would make you hair curl. But what we have to realize is that Sanctimommy has no confidence in her own mothering and that’s why she must lash out at others. Because if she can find fault with others, her own self-perceived inadequacies don’t seem so bad. It’s sad, really. Sure, we all judge from time to time. I don’t think there’s a person alive who doesn’t occasionally judge. But there’s a difference between judging a choice, and condemning a person for it. If I chose to believe that every person who made choices different from my own was unfit for my company, I’d be a very lonely person indeed. Very thoughtful and thought provoking post. I’m pretty much out of the Mommy Olympics now that my kids are older. I can’t say that I miss them.

  17. I LOVE this post!!!! BTW – I am totally there with snickers….. just for me late at night when the kids go to bed!ps. I stole all the kids snickers from their halloween bag. Does that make me a terrible mom?

  18. Sanctimommy, I think that term is brillant. I try hard not to be that mom, becuase I know for a fact I’m not perfect….but every once in a while I do wonder about some parents. But I keep my comments to myself or I share them with my friends and family, but I don’t say anything…well except when someone is seriously fucking up. Mostly it is a matter of prefence. I think your mom has hit it on the head. And you have too, will it matter in ten years? Will it make them a less than adult. And in reality, most of it won’t. I can’t believe some of the things people throw at each other, mostly here in blogland. I’ve had some directed at me and I’ve seen some that have been directed at you and Kristen and none of them were okay.Oh also, while I don’t let my kids eat candy before or for breakfast, I have given them donuts and chocloate milk for breakfast…and really is that any better than a Snickers?

  19. Can you be a Sanctimommy if you don’t have kids yet? Those women might be even worse: no children of their own, but perfectly willing to tell you how to raise yours. That is the <>last<> person I want to be, but other day I caught myself doing one of <>those<> eye-rolls. Not cool. Mrs. Chicky said it best: <>I know that whatever judgement I pass will someday come back and bite me on the ass.<>

  20. hmmm. good advice from your mom. mine has given me similar advice, and she raised up 4 kids, so now that i’m no longer a teenager, i listen.i’m pretty judgey, tho as my daughter gets older, i realize that not everything is as important as i once thought it was.that said, there are a few things that i will never let fall in the ‘no such thing as the wrong way’ category. (mullets, cry-it-out and spanking would go here)and i think it’s ok to think that your way is the right way (even if ‘your way’ keeps changing) – shouldn’t we parent with confidence?

  21. I normally lurk- sorry!- but I had to commment on this. We never knew what judgemental portals we would open up when we became parents-playgroups, church, stores, restaurants, and even our own home. We decided to be kind, fair, and realtively easygoing parents despite our disciplined upbringings. We have (mostly) well behaved kids, and happy kids, kind kids. And no, I didn’t breastfeed, and we eat pizza, we watch television, we take more videos out of the library than books most times, we walk our dog and our kids after 8:30 at night- andsometimes it is cold out! Yegads! We don’t censor the music we play in our home mostof the time-ds ius two and loves the violent femmes and beck. ug. We even drink wine with dinner.We have a schedule, our kids eat, sleep, and play. Our books are falling out of baskets all over the house and they are well read and well chewed. We have master’s degrees. And still, the judgement! I’d like to order a beer for mytwo year old next time we eat out-maybe brunch! Seriously, I am an elementary teacher,and I have seen so many kids come through my class who live in fear of being judged- and guess where they learn it? Well, they never leave my room atthe endof the year feeling that way if I can help it. I say, worry about the things that matter- and stop obsessing about why my son is wearing rainboots to mother’s day breakfast on the sunniest day of the year. He might have even sleptin them.

  22. I have always said that motherhood, if nothing else, provides a host of brilliant opportunities for me to loathe my formerly childless, totally judgemental-bitch self. Not that I don’t still judge–I remember whispering to myself in the grocery last night that whoever’s three year old had been screaming for FIFTEEN MINUTES STRAIGHT needed to deal with it NOW–but I always know it’ll come back to bite me, as Mrs. Chicky says. Breakfast by Snickers, Glass House by Karma.

  23. I just try to remember that I have no idea who the mom I’m inclined to judge IS. I don’t know her circumstances. I don’t know her life. I don’t know HER. Maybe the mom with the Snickers-eating kids had endured a bad night or a car that didn’t start or had promised a treat the night before but the baby had fallen asleep on the way back to the hotel. I read a great quote once that was along the lines of this: “Greet each person you meet as if they are fighting a great battle.” And, really, aren’t we ALL fighting a great battle?

  24. Sanctimommy is my new favourite word. I try my best not to be one, but I know I am deep down.When my kid’s old enough to do the things I secretly judge other’s for, I’ll move on to something else, I suppose.

  25. Oh no! My bedhead daughters are licking my empty coffee mug while eating processed cheese. I always said that I didn’t want to use desserts to bribe my children to eat their meals, but I meant after they turn five. I’m too busy judging myself to get around to others. What I really cringe at is when the childless person needs to tell me how I’m messing up. Badly.

  26. I love this post…and I so needed to hear it today while I’m trying to own what an unorthodox mommy I am.Oh and I only feel my daughter mini-snickers.So there.

  27. You should patent/copyright (whatever it is, I’m a lawyer & I don’t even know) that term!I’ve definitely been guilty of being a sanctimommy in the past, although I try hard to resist the urge now. Some of those things we’re most sanctimommiest (can I coin that one? :-) about are things that it takes having the tables turned on you to see the error of your ways. I know for me, my whole attitude on nursing changed when after nursing my son for a long time, thinking I “had it down”, and then my daughter was premature and never learned how to latch properly. Or who didn’t roll their eyes at the tantrum throwing kid in the grocery store before having kids – now look sympathetic at the mother (oh that would be me, now!)On the flip side, sometimes I find myself not sharing aspects of my parenting style with others to avoid the sanctimommy that it sometimes brings out in others. There are some people I don’t tell our strange co-sleeping arrangement or how long I nursed my son (I say “long time” but in reality, he’s still nursing) or how late I let my kids stay up or that we feed our son pretty much what he wants at dinner or that he may eat a piece of candy every day or how much TV is really watched in our house. All these things get big eye rolls from some. And I do think it’s a great idea, like Mel said, that when we verge on the sanctimommiest, that we remember we don’t know that mommy’s circumstance. It’s a good way of looking at the driver who is pissing you off too!

  28. You know, I swore when I was pregnant that I wouldn’t do half the things I do with my son now. All the TV and skipping a bath now and then and not reading him a book or two every night… My Pregnant self would have rolled her eyes at my Parent self many times over. It’s all a learning experience, and I have to remind myself that over and over. But after last night when I caught him painting the countertop with his mashed potatoes, I realize that American Cheese is so much less of a mess! That, and I should probably sit much closer to him than the TV when we eat dinner. Jeesh! Now even I’m rolling my eyes at myself, as I munch on my pre-dinner Snickers.Situations for everyone are different, and I know I’d do well to remember that when Sanctimommy starts to rear her ugly eye-roll. Hopefully, my own sanctimommy rolls her eyes at only me and no one else. That’s my goal, anyway.

  29. Great post. You could trademark Sanctimommy, but not sure for what goods or services. Judgment? I confess that I am mostly on the feeling judged side of the equation. Probably says more about me that mom-to-mom relations.

  30. Hey it’s hard not to judge. but a snickers before breakfast? she had it coming. and i’m sure she gets walked all over. there’s a difference between judging on the inside and being “that mom” who comments out loud to her companion, to another stranger or (!!!) to you directly. That mom is a bitch. You are just normal.

  31. Dude. My 16 month old still prefers to use a bottle over a sippy and I LET HIM!!!!I’m ripe for mommy crucifixion based on that alone :)

  32. I think I was Sanctimommy before the second one came along. I thought I knew everything and did it right. Then God, in his infinite wisdom, gave me a boy that doesnt sleep, a boy who has no obviouis cues, a boy who is cranky over what seems to me nothing and a boy that likes to fling himself to the floor to bang his head. I have learned my lesson and will never roll my eyes or judge another mother, because at this point I will give my 9 mos old a Snickers if I knew it guaranteed me 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep.Good post.

  33. Hear, hear. “Judge not lest ye be judged” is one of those phrases that you don’t really get to understand until you’re a mother (or, based on some of the comments above, until you become a mother <>again<> and it’s all very different from the first time).

  34. I’ll just quote whoever said “before i was a parent i was SOOO judgemental.” Yeah, that. And after the second kid came along? Now I’m just about the most laid back parent on the planet. I SO do not judge other parents, lest someone judge me.

  35. I remember sitting with my friend once. I had a one-year-old and was pregnant with my second. She had a five-week-old and was telling me about the horrible behavior she had recently witnessed at a restaurant — some horrible parents were letting their kid run around and it was so disturbing! She was never going to be one of <>those parents<>.I kept my mouth shut, but I was thinking, <>Oh ya? We’ll see about that…<>

  36. I’m not sure when it happened, but at some point, I just stopped caring about what other people (mothers or otherwise) thought about my parenting. I know that I love my kids with all my heart, and try to do right by them. I know (and they know, because I tell them) I’m not perfect. I know my parenting doesn’t involve anything horribly bad or scarring. Annoying? Maybe. But not <>bad<>.So somehow those Sanctimommies just don’t phase me anymore.As for becoming a Sanctimommy at that Snickers moment, I hear you, Liz…it’s hard to resist. We’ve all been there. What’s so wonderful is that you notice…that you check yourself after the eyeroll has already escaped. AND you write something smart and funny about it, so we remember to check ourselves as well. You’re one of the good ones, my dear…thank you for this.

  37. Well, not to get all sanctimonious and stuff, but wait about five more years before you make declarations regarding who will be eating what before breakfast!Says the mom whose last words to her five year old last night were, “Remember, tomorrow is a school day so we will NOT be eating cookies for breakfast or turning on the tv in the morning.”And really, I’m not the WORST mother in the world… Really I’m not… I couldn’t be…

  38. Grace D hit the nail on the head. If you think Sanctimommys are bad when your kids are little, wait until dating and body piercing and tattooing and sex pop up as things to judge kids and other moms about. It’s a sicko world out there and I’ve heard my share of some really nasty stuff about my own kids. Never mind the judgemental moms who can’t wait to tell me how wrong I am to medicate my bipolar/adhd kid. Really…take him unmedicated for a weekend and then talk to me!I don’t give a crap what my kids eat. They have at least two good wholesome meals a day and if they want snickers for breakfast, well isn’t chocolate good for you with all those anti-oxidents. And peanuts are protein, right?

  39. Sadly enough, I’m sure I fall on both sides of this one. I judge, but ignore other’s judgement of me :)) I’m confident in my parenting and try to remember that everyone is just trying to do their best. Actually, I’m going to change that to “I’m opinionated, but I try not to judge”. yes, I like that better.

  40. I couldn’t agree more with the loss of civility which is a byproduct of the blogosphere. I’ve seen way too many mean spirited anonymous comments over the last couple of years.It’s a shame, really.Cheers.

  41. Beautifully stated and a great reminder as I, too, have found my self raising my eyebrows in preparation for The Great Eye-Roll lately! Thanks for the perspective and for passing on your mother’s words of wisdom!!

  42. Sometimes when I need to get to work and wrangle both kids out of the house having a snickers to bribe the older one with doesn’t seem like such a bad idea. Right now we stick with granola bars (the chewy chocolate chip ones, so any semblance of healthfulness is lost). It is all too easy to judge other Moms though, so I get where you are coming from.

  43. Liz, what a fantastic post–a prime example of why you’re so relatable and popular! :) Your level-headed common sense and amusing self-awareness is so refreshing.

  44. Good food for thought but never say never. A Snickers bar has nuts right? What’s really the difference between a candy bar and a chewy granola bar anyway? My guess is potentially a few extra calories and marketing.

  45. ACK! I have no way to email youyou are like 30 minutes away from mewe should get together and raise our eye brows at others or at teh very least consume mass quantities of snickers and milky way midnightsMy email addy is on my blog

  46. what amazes me about sanctimommies (great name) is how their behavior indicates their apparent belief that there is a prize given for parenting. like at some point, someone is going to walk up to them and say <>”For having only ever fed your kids Annie’s Mac & Cheese and never succombing to the lure of Kraft, we present you with this golden colander.”<> and then all the other (lesser) mommies are going to gather around and applaud and toss bouquets of butter sticks at their feet murmuring about how “she really <>is<> the best. i have so much to learn from her…”nice exposé mom-101.

  47. Sanctimommy – oh, that’s a good one. It’s totally true, what you say, that that kind of tight-assed upbringing can’t be good either. You just know she’s snarking the neighbours at the dinner table in front of the kids and otherwise setting bad, bitter examples for them of how to be uncharitable and miserable and bitchy. Blech.

  48. Amen sister…Amen! I always try to put myself in other’s shoes. Like, maybe that mother gave in and allowed them to have a Snickers simply b/c they were on vacation and normally she’s a hard ass who won’t bend any rules. But, maybe she made a promise to herself to not be so uptight while on vacation which meant letting the kids have a Snickers before breakfast b/c one Snickers before breakfast, one time, won’t hurt them in 10 years. You just never know how other people are so why can you (or do you feel you have the right) judge them over seeing what they do for 10 seconds of their life? (and when I say “you” I don’t mean “you”…I mean everyone, we, us, me…didn’t want you to think I was being judgemental. It’s something I work very, very, very hard on NOT being.)

  49. Well put!I think of myself as being a very benefit-of-the-doubt giving when it comes to other moms. But I was a little judgemental yesterday when I saw a mom order grande Starbucks mochas for her pre-teen daughter and the girl’s friend.(Mainly, I wondered if the friend’s mom would approve.)

  50. As a teacher it never fails to scare me how much a parent’s attitudes influence their child’s behavoir.It’s easy for me to judge (my eyebrows wing up at parenting choices I witness all the time) and my husband and I talk about how we want to raise our kids all the time. But the reality is I’m not a mom yet. And although I am guilty of the eyebrow raises, I try not to let the sanctimommy out, any more than I let the snarky comments on others fashion choices out (especially teenagers who are embracing 80’s fashion) .I’ve also been guilty of giving my 3 (2 at the time) year old niece soda (gasp) nuggets (not dinosaur shaped even) and fries (the horror) as a reward for trying on at least 12 dresses when I took her shopping for a flower girl dress last May. I’m sure I was the target of sactimommies in that moment.I do, however, choose to get on my soapbox and be sactimommy type when parents turn their 11/12 year olds into gradewhores (what did I get, can I re-do it twenty times until you give me an A instead of the A-) who will have peptic ulcers by the time they’re done applying for college.

  51. Ahem…I have to raise my hand and say I am that parent of a five year old who had a pacifier. He always since birth needed it to get to bed. He just recently gave it up. I hesitated posting about it on my blog, but maybe I will, now that you’ve cleared the air about all the sancti-mommy crap. We all need a reality check.

  52. once someone commented “i feel sorry for your kid” on my blog, and i got really mad, and then i realized the commenter was me. while i was drunk.and sex with bonaduce? eewwwwwww.

  53. I can already tell this is going to be a tough issue to handle, both graciously receiving the unwanted advice and abstaining from giving it. I’m amazed by how much I’ve already received. Dumbfounded that anyone would question my right to try natural childbirth, use a cosleeper, etc, ad nauseum. I want to remember this feeling though so it can help me keep my own mouth shut when some other unsuspecting woman doesn’t ask me for advice.

  54. Hat?! I’m lucky if the Impling keeps it on for 20 seconds some days. Oh the comments. But more often, I get the sanctimommy look…not quite an eyeroll, but a gaze of barely disguised disgust that seems to say:“Exactly WHY did you think you could have children?”May they all rot.

  55. I was way more judgemental before becoming a mother. I’m still judgemental of what I see as safety issues but no so mucg on food or tv or things like that because on some days the only thing my son doesnt throw up is a reese cup and a pediasure. We all parent different and yes I do roll my eyes on some things and think how could they but I get over it because I’m sure sometimes people think the same of me.

  56. I remember being rather a know it all when it came to parenting, but when child #2 came along and threw a fit in the door at the grocery store and child #3 didn’t always have a totally clean shirt on in public, I relaxed a bit. As I like to say a LOT…”Parenting is not for wimps”

  57. It is very tempting for some of us to become a Sanctimommy during moments like these. Kudos to you for taking a step back and being all reflective about it. If only you were in my now defunct neighborhood playgroup to tell the bitches running it that I was not committing child abuse by putting my daughter in daycare 2 days a week. What would they say if they knew she is now in full-time, and gasp, enjoys it and is thriving! Take that, Sanctimommies!

  58. It’s amazing the contrast between growing up in the 70’s & now. Everyday there isanother food source we have to stay away from. It is soooo crazy. I liked the 70’s so much better. Growing up was fun! You got to ride around the neighborhood on your bike without your mom trailing you in the car. Now, when my daughter in outside on the sidewalk, I look out every 2 minutes. ugh……..I sometimes see the neighbors 4 year old riding her trike down the sidewalk by herself with no parental supervision. That I must confess brings out my sactimommy behavoir. I must learn to control that…

  59. Awesome post; awesome comments. I have been guilty of judging, ESPECIALLY before I had children, or before my children were of the age of the person I was judging. For instance, when I only had an infant, I’d see a toddler in flip flops in December and roll my eyes. And, then I HAD that toddler who only wore flip flops and realized I should shut the hell up. It’s a good lesson to learn early on b/c being a mother can feel so alienating; its worse to know that someone is staring their nose down at you. I will now publically admit that my husband and I don’t sleep together b/c we have split up to sleep with the kids; I still breastfeed an over 2-year old son; I have let the kids have lollipops at 10am; I NEVER EVER brush their hair; my oldest ,5, will go a week between bathing; and they have listened to My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult. So there; got a problem with that? : )

  60. The mullet, omg, the mullet. I didn’t realize it at the time, but, I was a Sanctimommy about that just yesterday.Why, oh, why a mullet on a todder, though?

  61. I get all Sanctimommy sometimes. Like when I see a baby with earrings, a toddler standing in the cart basket, leaning over the edge, children outside in the snow without hats. I get more offended, though, by sanctimonious people who can’t bear the sight of children or cringe at the sound of laughter. We’ve gone to family restaurants some mornings when another table will be cringing and glaring at us because Ben is playing the drums with his spoon and giggling.

  62. I was the one to delete the above post b/c I am anal retentive and wanted to edit my post! Fairly Odd Mother – are you my mommy twin? I was going to try to email you, but I can’t find your email addy. My hubby and I also sleep apart b/c we each sleep with a child and my 3+ year old is still nursing. Nice to know I’m not totally alone!!!

  63. I hear ya. I find the more crap I have to deal with as a parent, the less judgemental I can be.And I want to hear how the no-sleep sleep solution turned out-have you tried it yet? Ferberized her? Did it work? We’re in the “must move baby out of our bed but are too wussy to do it” phase.

  64. i blame religion (bullets flying at me now) – it taught me how to judge without understanding, that I must always be right, that if i wasn’t perfect i was ‘bad’. I call it the ‘mommy halo’. the universe is kind though in that every time i have judged harshly it has come to bite me in the butt – like when my kid out of frustration tried to ‘strangle’ a kid at school and before that i was all – violent children suck! It is good to laugh at ourselves and remember we were apes once after all so the tendency does linger in the most inconvenient of ways *grin*

  65. Ok, I would have been eye-rolling right there with ya on the Snickers episode. But then again, my sister and I used to enjoy chocolate cake for breakfast. I mean with a glass of milk, is that any worse than cereal? Um, Ok.And you should trademark ‘sanctimommy’, stat. Perfect.

  66. One moment please…just have to pour some Jolt for my five-year old and fix the g-string on my daughter’s Bratz doll.Right. Mother’s who give their kids Snickers before 6:30AM (but not after) should have their kids taken away for sure.

  67. I nearly choked up my Tobelrone when I read Mitzi Green’s comment! I’m dying of laughter here. You ladies are too funny. Our children will survive… they may need therapy, but who doesn’t?

  68. Your mom is a wise woman. The other day I was walking down the sidewalk with my 19 month old twins, one in front of me and one behind me, and a woman pulled over and chewed me out for letting them “loose and unrestrained”, because I need to “think about what could happen”. Because, you know, toddlers don’t need <>practice<> to learn how to stay with mommy, they just magically know it when you finally let them out of the stroller when they’re three. I was most amused to experience a literal “mommy drive-by”. My SIL (whose presence I was recently graced with for two looooong days at a “retreat”) is a sancti<>not<>amommy. She and her husband “choose” not to have children, and therefore are experts on child-rearing and what constitutes good choices. If she “chose” to become a mother, well, then she’d sure as hell breastfeed (but NOT when he’s “old enough to ask for it, because that’s <>too<> long), not ever use daycare, and have the best-behaved kid ever. The other day she was loudly crowing (in a room full of mothers of young children) about how any kid over two was too old to ever have a tantrum, and any kid who did that had bad parents. I so very much wanted to say that childlessness makes her an expert on parenting and child development in precisely the same way that not ever having golfed makes me an expert on golf. If she ever decides to have a baby, I am so gonna enjoy it. But OK – I do it too sometimes. I do think, though, that there’s a huge difference between thinking something and saying it. I can “parent with confidence” and choose to be supportive instead of being a sanctimommy. (My apologies for the long commnent. I feel much better though!)

  69. Could I love your mother’s advice more? Ummm, no. My mommy pendulum swings pretty wide as well. It depends how much coffee I’ve had.

  70. What?! You’re not supposed to give your kid a Snickers bar before breakfast? I suppose next you’ll be trying to tell me ‘no gin before homework.’ Yeesh.

  71. Sanctimommy … brilliant … you must trademark. I love your mother hard.My son would debate the merits of chocolate before breakfast .. though I am of the camp that chocolate before breakfast is just for mommies.

  72. oh-so-late chiming in, but what else is new?you know what’s even worse than a sanctimommy? a sancti– um, i guess a “sanctiNONmom,” by which i mean someone like me. someone who sees something “i would never let MY child do” despite the fact that I DO NOT HAVE CHILDREN.but you know? thanks to the uber-feministic awesomeness of your blog and blogs like yours, i have a WAY better idea of what motherhood is “really” like, as much as is possible without having experienced it.enough so that my thought process now, when seeing a mom do something i wouldn’t on priciple agree with, goes something like, “hmm, i wonder what that mom’s been through so far today…”

  73. I have no children but have dated 4 men who did. I have seen the most remarkable displays of stupidity and cruelty towards their own kids, things that are so unacceptable that doing the eye roll just isn’t enough. I have stepped in on 2 occasions as an advocate for the children. A mother who divorced her husband, (my ex-bf), remarried and then forbid her 5 year old to call my bf “Dad”. She forced her son to call the new guy “Dad”, over the protestations of my ex. Her son then became a bedwetter and by the time my ex and I broke up, the boy was 18 and still wetting the bed. When I suggested therapy, I was screamed at, “He’s already got a mother, you’re not his mother” to which I replied, “I’m not trying to be, I just want to help him.” The last time the ex and I spoke, about 4 months ago, his son had spent 4 years in and out of rehab for drug addiction. Do I think the parents were responsible for this? Yes.

  74. Before I had a child, it used to bother me when people would take their kids out in clothes that were dirty. (hangs head in shame.) Little did I know the struggle it can be to get the kids out the door, or that this may indeed be the 5th outfit of the day, or that perhaps the child got dirty AFTER leaving the house, or that this is perhaps the child’s FAVORITE shirt, and just because it has a stain on it doesn’t mean it’s dirty, or or or the many other possibilities. Being a parent has taught me humility, toward all but perhaps those sanctimommys (and daddys…)

  75. Holy woman momma, there are 84, and nowwith me 85 comments here…Anyhooooo….glad to say I used to be sanctimommy and now I am the mom who gives her kids snickers for breakfast (not), but I have lightened up alot…whatever gets you thru the day ya know.

  76. There are a few of these moms in my son’s preschool class. They are always at the door waiting for the classroom to open 5 minutes early. And their beady eyes take a quick sweep up and down you (and your child) while their lips are pursed in the most sour expression. Remember “Church Lady” from Saturday Night Live? Like that. Only one of the Church Ladies has a permed mullet. And really, HOW CAN A WOMAN WITH A PERMED MULLET deem herself the Judgy McJudgerson of all mothers? Gah.I’m just saying, I know what you mean with those kind of women. But don’t worry. You are SO NOT that kind of mom! Couldn’t be even if you tried! (Which is why I love reading your blog!)

  77. Oh my, I can’t even begin to tell you the number of “I won’t be THAT mommy”‘s I’ve eaten in these first 3 1/2 short years into my mommyhood. They don’t taste very good.

  78. Thank You. I feel so much better for giving my daughter half of my Diet Coke to keep her quiet in the car today. It was a safety issue right?Boy, I could’ve benefitted reading something like this my first time around, wise one!!!! :)Carrie

  79. Not much that I can add to this list, but I wanted to chime in any hooo…Hallelujah. Thanks for the reminder. I will work hard to stifle my santimommy moments. I’d like to think they are few and far between, but I’m sure they slip out more than they should.Oh, and about the little boy sporting a mullet? Yeah, that’d be my child. He had a mohawk, which he wants to grow out. Because he wants to look like his little brother who passed away. (Granted Shalebug had thick, curly blonde hair and was completely non-mulleted, while Frac’s hair is wiry, poker straight and starting to resemble Billy Ray Cyrus’s.)My point is, I hang my head in shame, and don’t admit to being his mother in public and l let him grow his hair any damn way he chooses because it makes him feel like he has a connection with his brother.Oh, and it really pisses his dad off. (I didn’t say there weren’t any rewards to the mullet….)

  80. Having been in the parenting biz, as an ameteur and a professional, for over twenty years, I give a wholehearted AMEN to the idea that much of parenting at any point in time is a trend. Trends come and go. Soothers are in, they’re out. Walkers are good for kids, they’re death traps, they’re back to good. Going to your child whenever they cry teaches them to be needy and undermines their independence; being the kind of mommy who can’t bear to hear her baby cry is a sign of a truly loving parent.It goes on and on and on…Having 20+ years of parenting dozens of kids under my belt, I am most definitely opinionated! However, those twenty years have also taught me that there are more ways to parent a child than there are children. I may disapprove of this or that when I see it, but I keep my opinions to myself – unless it’s very, very clear that I could be truly helpful – because I know that for all my expertise, I’ve also been judged unfairly, with only part of the information. It’s no fun.I don’t agree with previous commenters that sanctimommies are necessarily foundering in insecurities and thus lash out. Some are, no doubt. I think a lot of them are perfectly secure in their parenting – they’re just rude.

  81. I love this post. I have been all of them – the one who passed judgment to the neighbor screaming at her kids unpleasantly. As the kids get older, I find it changes from judging their parenting to judging the parents themselves. It’s hard to get along with a classroom of great parents, not-so-great parents and totally neglectful parents. And it’s easy to see, by that age, who the neglectful ones are.But I will fully admit that I will still continue to roll my eyes at my SIL’s 6 yr old granddaughter when she calls my daughters, “Bitches” or tells my SIL to “F— off.” She’s been doing that since she was 3. So not cool.

  82. That is the BEST nasty mommy moniker I have every heard. Should I use it, I promise I will link to you.I especially appreciated that you admitted to going sanctimommy once or twice yourself. We’ve all been there.

  83. A great blog!!! I was feeling especially down after being hit by “drive by parenting” and came across your blog. As far as I am concerned, this should be required reading for all new Mommies. We beat ourselves up enough without other mothers making us feel bad about the decisions we make as parents. Thanks for putting a humorous approach on a heinous crime…SANCTIMOMMIHOOD!!

  84. Darn! I wish I had thought of your approach when I had to travel numerous times to Orlando resort for business with my 2 year old and 4 month old at home. I didn’t have time to judge- I was too busy pumping my boobs in every bathroom I could find so I could gloat about what a good mom I was. Very time consuming- pumping and gloating about it…

  85. I’ve run across more Sanctimommies this pregnancy than ever before and I can’t help but wonder where the HELL they all came from – and more importantly WHEN DO THEY GO BACK THERE???If you don’t breastfeed, you’re a horrible mother who feeds your child the equivalent of feces in a bottle.If you don’t cloth diaper, you’re a menace to the environment.If you vaccinate, you’re putting your child at risk for autism and/or other “genetic diseases” (no kidding – vaccines cause genetic diseases now, in case you didn’t know!)Like I’ve said elsewhere, I could give a rat’s behind what you feed/clothe/bathe your child with/in/around/on/whatever so long as they’re dry, happy, healthy and enjoying their childhood.In the grand scheme of things, nothing else matters.

  86. When I was an almost-momma, I vowed that my children would never watch too much TV or play video games. They would read good literature and be classical music fans. My children would sleep soundly in their very own beds, eat wholesome foods, and never say vulgar words.All that shit went right out the window after the epidural wore off, I think. I have four kids now. All teenagers. They are video game fa-REAKS and watch far too much television. Their musical tastes are varied and more in line with whatever is playing on Guitar Hero. (My daughter is a Heart fan now. I’m so proud! Ann and Nancy Wilson could kick Hannah Montana/Brittney/Jonas Brothers ass every single day of the week!) The reader who wrote that Sanctimommy gets even more fired up during the teenage years is absolutely right. I got a very snooty look at the Walgreens the other day from a fellow Athletic Booster Club member when she saw me buying condoms. I guess my son won’t be taking her daughter out anytime soon. Maybe she’s in a hurry to be a SanctiGRANDmommy but I’m not.

  87. Brilliant, brilliant. Sanctimummy (over here :-) ) is great. I will use it all the time.I have been the target of reverse sanctimummyism in a way. I bought some Harry Potter audiobooks to listen to downstairs whilst I potter about doing jobs. My 2 year old LOVES them, so much so that he wanted them on his radio in his room. So I did. He listens to them everynight now and he just loves them. I get the don’t you think he is too young for that, why are you pushing him, etc? I’m not. He likes to listen to them and it helps him chill out and get off to sleep. Is that so bad?I can be a sanctimummy at work sometime (I work on the ground for an airline) but when I look back I think “ok, I was right to think that”. Like the parent who chewed me out for not having any child packs left and what was she supposed to do with her child for 8 hours? BRING SOME TOYS AND DVDS OR SOMETHING!!!! Or the parent who lets their child run around on the ramp. You wouldn’t let your child play in a road would you? I always try and assist parents, but sometimes I don’t have enough me to go around and it’s time to take responsibility for you and yours. Ok maybe not so much sanctimummy, just a bit cross sometimes. My one is nearly three and everyday is a learning curve, I try not to judge because I don’t know what that parent or child is going thru. I do know that I make my life happier by avoiding placse full of sanctimummies, places like the playgroup full of judgemental stay at homers who have told me what a bad person I am for working two days a week. I was even told off by one for our choice of holiday! You know what, we had a great time. We got to eat a civilised meal in a nice restaurant whilst qualified nannies cared for our son, so nah, nah, nah. Oh I feel better for that.

  88. I don’t think I’ve ever rolled my eyes publicly but I’ve definitely rolled my eyes in my thoughts. So, guilty as charged. I agree there are different ways to parent, but there is a difference between picking your battles with the kiddies (I have an almost 4yr old boy and 6mo girl so I know sometimes you just have to use rewards and bribes to just get out the door in the morning) and just being a lazy or uncaring parent. If your toddler is so overweight that he can hardly run, then giving that child a can of soda and a bag of chips for a snack is irresponsible and lazy and maybe deserves a bit of judgement. I think some parents of this generation have gone to the opposite end of the spectrum of parenting…too lenient with absolutely no discipline. Ever watch Supernanny or Nanny 911? Kids out of control; no respect for parents at all; and violent. I have a neighbor who has a child with autism (not severe thankfully), and another son who doesn’t. She hasn’t had time to focus on certain things with her younger almost 4yr old. He’s still sucking on a pacifier and not potty trained. Before, I would’ve done a roll-my-eyes-without -showing-it, but after talking to her about how difficult it is to raise a child with autism, I can understand why she allows her 3yr old to do certain things that I wouldn’t allow my 3yr old to do. However, she does make sure that he has manners and that violence is not acceptable; she’s a responsible parent. So yes, we don’t always know the circumstances or the details of that parent’s life, but there are certain responsibilities that a parent has to the child and to society. That said, my 3yr old has gone to fulltime daycare since he was 7mo old; he does watch a little tv almost everyday; he gets a “treat” — chocolate — if he’s had a good dinner, he does go to preschool with bedhead, and his clothes always aren’t appropriate. I pick my battles. He’s happy and well-behaved, most of the time ;) So who the heck cares what other parents think of my parenting style as long as he’s a good kid, and grows up to be a good and responsible adult.

  89. I’m an …older mom and I used to trot through the grocery store, library and sometimes post office with a son who was wearing a cowboy outfit, G.I.Joe garb, or pirate regalia when he was three or four years old. I figured that it brightened most people’s days and if it didn’t, they needed to “get a life” instead of worrying about my mothering decisions.

  90. yes, just recently at church I shared with some other moms that we had successfully weaned both the boys off their pacifiers. one of them looked at me with a straight face and said to the group, “Thank God, we never had problems like that.”
    I was shocked into silence. It wasn't a problem. It was a total parenting triumph! Our kids were sleeping through the night without their passies after only 3 nights. Matt and I were rejoicing and so proud of them.
    Way to take the wind out of our sails, lady!

  91. Whoa…I'm Sanctimommy. Holy cow, I had no idea.

    But mullets on children- that is unforgiveable, I'm afraid. No excuse for that.

  92. You can't always know where someone is until you know where they started. It may be that what looks like laxness is one parent's efforts to lighten up; and another's rigid rules is a conscious effort to tighten up their own easygoingness.

    I dunno – my 3 are in college now and I found out that, if you don't know what you did wrong as a mom, they will be happy to update you on the missing info.

  93. I started reading your post and couldn’t help but laugh because we ALL do it at times. My son always came home with some adventure, food fight, backing up the toilet, wrestling, etc… Never did he do it meliciously, just being a boy. Every time the phone would ring, I could just picture the principal’s expression of dismay, while I was trying to keep a straight face. We have water fights in my house all the time with squirt bottles, so who is the bad influence?? My sons are now 22 and 24 and the most gentle, kind, respectful and polite young men. I guess, we did okay. If you give them lots of love, firmly guide their steps and allow them to fall once in awhile while they make their choices, then all you can say is, I did my best and the other stuff will give them great memories. Now I know when I become a grandmother, I will still have to bite my tongue once in awhile, but then I get to send them home!

  94. I started reading your post and couldn’t help but laugh because we ALL do it at times. My son always came home with some adventure, food fight, backing up the toilet, wrestling, etc… Never did he do it maliciously, just being a boy. Every time the phone would ring, I could just picture the principal’s expression of dismay, while I was trying to keep a straight face. We have water fights in my house all the time with squirt bottles, so who is the bad influence?? My sons are now 22 and 24 and the most gentle, kind, respectful and polite young men. I guess, we did okay. If you give them lots of love, firmly guide their steps and allow them to fall once in awhile while they make their choices, then all you can say is, I did my best and the other stuff will give them great memories. Now I know when I become a grandmother, I will still have to bite my tongue once in awhile, but then I get to send them home!

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