(Editor's note: This post originally appeared on the Facebook page of Laura Mazza, who blogs at Mum on the Run. It has been reprinted here with permission).
Don't judge me.
If I complain about my children, don't say I don't love them.
If I say how perfect they are, don't tell me I'm too braggy. You don't see the hours I spend holding and loving them.
If I'm honest about motherhood, don't say I'm ranting. You didn't see how many years I couldn't tell anyone how I felt because I was afraid.
Don't judge the mother who is formula-feeding. Don't call her lazy. You don't know whether she struggled for months on end trying to make it work. You didn't see her go to lactation consultants, eat lactation cookies. Spend money on lip ties and a pediatrician. You didn't see her journey.
Don't judge the mother who breast-feeds in public. You don't know whether today was the day she finally got the confidence to do it. You don't know how hard she has worked to keep that breast-feeding going. Don't belittle the act of a mother feeding her baby.
Don't judge the mother who tells her kids off in public. You don't know whether she's the most patient woman in the world. You don't know that she is always gentle but today she lost her s--- because she's tired and worn out. Don't call her a bad parent when you don't see all she does.
Don't judge the mother on her phone. You don't know whether she's replying to important work emails. Working from her phone, looking up recipes that her kids will eat for dinner or talking to her mom who lives a million miles away.
Don't judge the mom who works; she's making a living for her child.
Don't judge the mom who stays home; she's doing the job of 20 for no pay.
Don't judge the single mom. She’s doing fine on her own, and is doing the job of both parents. She left a bad relationship, she stood up for herself, she's a role model to her children.
Don't judge the mother eating fast-food with her kids. You don't know that she's too exhausted to cook, that she wanted to keep her kids happy and get out of the house for a treat. You don't know her struggles. She could grow an organic vegetable farm for all you know.
Don't judge the mother who hasn't lost her "baby weight.” She's spent the year healing from birth, mentally and physically. Now isn't the time for her to give up cake and eat kale.
Every mother has her own story. She has walked down a tough path. You don't know her challenges, her strengths, her weaknesses ... Her life, you don't know any of it. She judges herself every day, she strives for the best every day, so rather than judging, lend a smile to her, cut up her food when she breast-feeds, warm up the kettle for her formula, reassure her in her struggles and praise her victories. And remember before you criticize, accuse or abuse, you have to walk a mile in her shoes.