The last time I saw my grandma wan’t particularly different from any other day. I was anxious, trying to keep my kids from destroying her picturesque house. We crouched down on the floor by her bed, Some Boy playing with trinkets stocked just for him. Sidekick fussed over nap time.
Grandma and I talked at length about everything from travels to family, her past and my future. I had always been fascinated by this woman. She was a feisty, spirit-filled, mighty person who also happened to become a parent at a young age.
There is something so special and terrifying about birthing a child before you fully feel like an adult. For grandma, it meant that she got to enjoy grandparenthood and even great-grandparenthood for an extended time. After raising four children of her own, she was heavily involved in my young life. Her arms were some of the first to hold me, and it was those arms that welcomed me at the age of 16 when I needed a fresh start in a new community. Getting me in line was no small feat, but she handled it with grace, dignity and a notable respect for my humanity. Long years of experience under her belt made her the expert on parenting in our family.
So that day in her home, as a frazzled moment took over our calm, she startled me with words that have become a cherished memory for me. My almost-two-year-old was losing it. I vigorously rocked and hushed, embarrassed as we unraveled. Her eyes landed on mine and I could feel the significance of this moment. Time marched forward tangibly. “Chelsea, you are one of the best mothers I have ever seen.”
As a young parent, that was the one thing I needed to hear. We just want to know that we’re doing alright.
My third child was in my womb that day, though I didn’t know it at the time. I found out back-to-back about the pregnancy and the loss of my grandma. Her words are what carried me through. Her simple reassurance has served as the foundation for how I treat young parents today.
Judgment is pervasive: I’ve shared my experiences with it at the hospital, the grocery store, restaurants and parks. What I haven’t shared, though, is how to change the rhetoric. Encouragement is key! The one thing any parent – especially a new one – needs to hear is that they are exactly the parents their children need. Nate and I are continuing to work with Similac on their #SisterhoodUnite campaign, and they’re asking parents to share what they’re doing to end judgment.
They’ve even partnered with the Duff sisters, who have been notably vocal about their experiences with judgment from other parents. For my part, I’m pledging to lift up mothers and fathers with kind words, just as grandma did for me.
Similac partnered with bloggers such as me for its Sisterhood of Motherhood Program. As part of this program, I received compensation for my time. Similac believes that consumers and bloggers are free to form their own opinions and share them in their own words. Similac’s policies align with WOMMA Ethics Code, Federal Trade Commission (FTC) guidelines and social media engagement recommendations.