I recently had an experience at the park that taught me a valuable mommy lesson. It's made me think a lot about how I react to, respond to and treat other moms (and their children).

I was pushing my 1-year-old in a swing next to another mom, who was doing the same. We were talking a bit and enjoying our time when suddenly a young girl on the play structure nearby starting crying. She was up high and didn't think she could get down by herself. Despite her calls to her mother, no one seemed to be coming to her rescue.

"Look at that," the mom next to me said. "That little girl needs help, and her mom is nowhere to be seen. How could she leave her kid on the playground like that? What if she falls?"

I looked at this other mom and at the little girl. Then I looked around to see where the girl's mother was. She was over in an adjacent field with two other children.

I had a choice to make at that point. I could join in with the mom next to me in bashing this other mom, or I could do something about the situation. "Do you think I should go help her?" I asked. Then the answer seemed obvious to me. "I'm going to go help her," I said.

So I left my son in the swing, walked 20 feet away and helped the little girl down. Then I went back to my son. The girl's mother came back a minute later with her other kids in tow, none the wiser.

Now I'm not sharing this story because I want to make myself look good — what I did was really not that big of a deal. And I'd like to think that if I hadn't been there, the other mom would have come to the same conclusion and gone to help the little girl, or the girl's mother would have come back before anything bad happened.

I am sharing this story because it was a learning experience for me. I think, as moms, we are often quick to judge the actions of another mom, and sometimes that judgment causes us to lose our common sense. A child was in need, Mom wasn't around, and instead of helping the child, we could have stood there bad-mouthing her mom for leaving her alone on the playground.

The mom who's daughter needed help obviously had her hands full with a couple other kids. She knows her children well and knows her daughter is perfectly capable of playing on the playground by herself. And even though the girl couldn't get down, she wasn't in any real danger. Even if she had fallen, she wasn't that high up. Plus, there were other moms around who would most likely be willing to help.

The mom next to me who made the judgy comment is a first-time mom with one child. Based on our conversation and my observation of her at the park, she is pretty protective of her child. She didn't understand why any mom would leave her toddler on a playground by herself even for a minute. Her comment was based on her knowledge and relationship with her own child because she knew nothing about the other woman.

Neither of the other moms probably remember this experience, but it's something that's come back to my mind a few times since it happened. It was a bit of a defining moment for me as a mom. Do I join in on the mommy bashing, or do I make the situation better instead? In this case, I chose the latter. My plan is to continue doing so, though I know I make mistakes, too.

We're all on the same team. What we want is the happiness and welfare of the children around us. Let's give each other the benefit of the doubt. And when a child is in need, pitch in, even if you're tempted to be judgmental.

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