Moms' Powerful Campaign: 'I'm a Work in Progress'

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Photo by Jean Molodetz/IViewPhotography

Hot on the heels of their last viral photo campaign, “End the Mommy Wars,” the online community known as CT Working Moms has issued an inspired follow-up: “Hugs Not Judgment,” a much-needed reminder to mothers everywhere to step back, keep parenting judgment in check, and aim, instead, for kindness.

“We’re not suggesting hugging random moms unless you feel so moved,” Michelle Noehren, CT Working Moms founder and mother to a 3-year-old, tells Yahoo Parenting. “It’s more of a mental hug. If we can start to look at our thoughts and recognize the negative ones, we can then choose to have a more empathetic reaction in situations where we find ourselves judging someone else.” Like witnessing another kid’s horrific tantrum in the aisle of Target, for example, and training ourselves to empathize rather that tsk-tsk at the situation.

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Photo by Jean Molodetz/IViewPhotography

“Instead, we can think, ‘Maybe she’s having a tough day. My child has been difficult in the store and I know it’s not a reflection of my parenting so it’s not a reflection of hers either. I hope her day gets brighter,’” Noehren suggests. “And then we’ve essentially given both ourselves and the other mom a little mental hug. And we’re all better off for it.”

The group’s last campaign, released into the world in June 2013, was a visual plea for being part of an understanding mommy sisterhood. “We were floored by the response it received (and continues to receive) around the world,” Noehren says. That was a follow-up to an earlier series, a post-baby body shoot, which emphasized loving the skin you’re in, whether it’s got stretch marks or not. They campaigns have been team efforts from the group of 26 CT Working Moms bloggers — psychologists, educators, lawyers, sales associates, and stay-at-home mothers — whose aim has been “just to write honestly about what our lives are like as moms,” Noehren says.

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Photo by Jean Molodetz/IViewPhotography

Images in the “Hugs Not Judgment” series include individuals from the group holding signs with powerful, positive messages: “Someday, this will all be funny,” “You’re doing a great job, mama!” and “When you stop judging others, you open a door to accepting yourself, too.”

Even though they’re preaching the positive message, Noehren says, it doesn’t mean that everyone in the group has perfected the art of interacting with other parents. “Just like everyone else, I’m a work-in-progress,” she offers. “I’m much less judgmental now than I was even just a few years ago. Each time I find myself having a judgy thought about someone else I can now recognize it right away and that’s truly the key.”

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Photo by Jean Molodetz/IViewPhotography

So what makes us offer stinging decrees in the first place? “I personally think it stems from two places. I think the ‘mommy wars’ and judgment are much worse online and in the media because parenting websites often perpetuate negativity and division between moms,” Noehren says. (Point duly noted!) “I also think we feel very strongly attached to our parenting decisions, and it can be hard to remember that other people might do something differently, and that it’s okay because it works for them.

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Photo by Jean Molodetz/IViewPhotography

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