Confessions and learning to stop the judgement

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I got the look. You other parents will know what I mean. The bad parent look. The why-weren’t-you-watching-your-child-more-closely-and-see-now-look-he-got-hurt-look.

That is indeed what happened. We were at the food court, late for an appointment, stuffing ourselves with inappropriate-and-unhealthy-for-children-fast-food, when our son, who was, unbeknownst to us, dangling perilously on top of a food court table, took a header into the floor. And as my wife ran to scoop him up and assess the damage, this woman with her own child at another table caught my eye and gave me the look. I felt suitably yucky and bad-parent-y. You may know the feeling.

We parents can be a judge-y lot. Especially us moms. I’ve always liked to think that I’m not one of those moms who sniffs “I can’t believe she…. (fill in appropriate blank).” But I totally am. There, I said it. I’m judge-y.

I caught myself doing it the very same night. We headed to the Public Health Office after the food court incident (it’s in the mall – hence the foodcourt outing), to get our son’s immunizations (another dicey topic – one for yet another blog). And I felt myself tensing up watching this other mom let her wee one march all over the Public Health Clinic floor in bare feet. And then I heard myself turning to my wife and hissing “I can’t believe she’s letting her kid walk all over the public health office floor in his bare feet, and in the middle of winter no less.” Oye. My lovely wife (very gently) called me out for it and I felt appropriately guilty. I have not, as they say, walked a mile in her shoes (or lack thereof).

It seems that, given my earlier rant about the lack of respect afforded to parenting work, and mothering in particular, that the tendency of parents, and again mothers in particular, to beat up on the parenting choices of other mothers is, counter-productive. At best.

So – I’ve decided to let it all hang out. In the spirit of living and let live, I’m going to air my dirty laundry. I’m going to confess (some of) my imperfections as a parent, and then I’m going to toast them.

  • Deep cleansing breath*

Here goes:

  1. My son uttered his first F-Bomb when he was 20 months old. He *totally* learned it from me.
  2. The other night at a restaurant, at the tender age of 3, he dropped his cup on the floor and shouted “oh crap, crap, CRAP!” at the top of his wee lungs. Again, all me.
  3. My house usually looks like a bio-hazard site.
  4. I let my kidlets play and occasionally eat off of the dirty floors in said house.
  5. My thirty second rule is more like thirty minutes.
  6. I sometimes let my three year old watch too much television in order to get a workout or a quiet coffee in.
  7. My baby is lying on the guestbed beside me right now, gurgling all cute-like, and all I want to do is have some “me” time with my blog.
  8. I try to feed the family organic healthy food and usually just run out of time and energy. PB &J rules this house (and its the kind of peanut butter with saturated fats and sugar. Oh yes it is).
  9. I was so diligent about cloth diapering with my first child, but oftentimes with baby number two, I’m too tired to even contemplate the extra laundry.
  10. I haven’t given up coffee and the occasional diet coke, even though I know caffeine gives my baby gas.
  11. I have been known to holler too much at the end of the week (and sometimes at the middle too.)
  12. I barter juiceboxes for good behaviour.
  13. I am apparently oblivious to my son dangling perilously atop of food court tables.

This list, I think, could go on for pages, and I’d bet the farm that yours could too. We parents are an imperfect lot.

So to the other parents reading this — I encourage you to find another parent or two and confess. Air your dirty parenting laundry (you know you have some) in the face of judgment.

Maybe if we all did a little more looking at our own dirty little parenting secrets, we’d go a little easier on the parents we see around in the playground, at the food court, or the Public Health Office.

Because they’re slogging it out, 24/7, just like us.

Comments on Confessions and learning to stop the judgement

  1. I laughed out loud reading this a few times, I swear you have been to my hosue! I cannot wait to call my friend HB and “air my dirty parenting laundry” even though she already knows most of it!

  2. Sure, while we’re at it…
    I dont let my baby watch kids programming but I sure watch a lot of adult programming with her in the room.

    I also let her mouth my cell phone so I can get her to stop whining for it.

    …and I sometimes let her swallow stuff that may or may not be food off the floor because if I try to get it from her, she bites me.

  3. I LOVE THIS POST! The confessions are the best.

    Also, “and I sometimes let her swallow stuff that may or may not be food off the floor because if I try to get it from her, she bites me.”

    AAH, yes! That is so me. Jasper either bites me, OR just pitches such a fit that I figure he can determine whether or not something is tasty, as long as he can’t choke on it.

  4. LOL. I’ve actually had this topic floating around in my head for a post on my own blog. (I’m way into confessions lately, I dunno why. They just feel good.)

    I’ll add a couple more:

    – I left my sleeping baby in the car (locked, window cracked, parked in the shade) and went into the store. Because he was finally asleep! and needed milk.

    – I sometimes pretend I didn’t see him do something he’s not supposed to do, because I dont want to deal with it.

    Whew! That felt good. 🙂

    • I’m a first grade teacher (not a mama) and I totally pretend not to see some transgressions so that I don’t have to deal with them.
      Seriously, I don’t care if he called you stupid. Are you stupid? No. So who cares!!!!!

      • I’m a teacher too and do the same thing! The sad thing is, I’m a high school teacher and you’d think things like licking their desks would have stopped by then O_o

      • Jillian, you are a genius!

        I’m not a parent or a teacher, but I run a Brownie Guide group (7-10 year olds) and I *so* don’t have the patience to sort out little name calling niggles. You have just given me a brilliant solution to the ‘Helen, so-and-so just said I was …’ cry, that I usually just point blank ignore or tell them to sort out between themselves.

  5. – Our daughters were flipping people off pretty much from birth to a year old, and neither my husband or I ever tried to stop them.
    – Our 16 month-old regularly takes food out of our dogs mouths and puts it in her own before I can catch her.
    – Our 3 year old drinks tea and has done since she was a year old.
    – My husband has taught both girls to say “Assss-hooooole” ala ‘Meet the Fockers’.

    • What’s interesting about the tea is it’s common practice in Asia to give babies green tea as soon as a few months old. Doctors regularly advise mothers here that a bottle of green tea is fine as long as they’re breast/formula feeding as well. Different strokes for different folks!

    • I have gotten a lot of grief from people for never attempting to stop my son from swearing. To me they are just words, people think they are bad cause that is what other people thought before them. It has always been explained to him that some adults do not like those words so to be careful when using them in public, and other than a few hilarious and usually well deserving situations (the first time my future-hubby’s family went out to dinner with mine my son very appropriately called our waited a douche bag.. it took everything in me and the boyfriend not to die laughing) he really does not swear, in or out of our house. He is now in pre-school and I have heard almost every other child his age’s parents being talked to about their child swearing at school, to my son it isn’t a big deal, children are going to push boundaries. I never made that one a big issue so to him there is no thrill in saying those words when he can get away with it. He in fact smacks my head when I let a “bad word” slip… and that happens frequently.

  6. I too leave my 3 kids in the car so that I can run into Starbucks. They are in my sight, in seatbelts, windows cracked. I need caffeine. I have 3 kids. Don’t hate.

  7. I dont have kids (yet) but this post and the comments are so funny i just snorted tea out my mouth. I have all these things to look forward too.

  8. I, too, let my 15-month-old eat food off the floor as long as it’s not a choking hazard.

    My three-year-old watches more TV some days than would be considered healthy.

    Both my kids went through a phase where the recycle bin was the best toy box ever and I did a lousy job of discouraging them. I don’t leave sharp cans or glass jars in there, but please, if they’re going to get 15 minutes of joy out of an empty vitamin container or a cereal box, who am I to stop them?

  9. “I dont let my baby watch kids programming but I sure watch a lot of adult programming with her in the room.”

    Yep, same here, no kid programming in this house. In fact, we don’t even have TV service, but we have netflixed marathons of shows such as Weeds, Dexter, and Bones with the little one in the room…got to work on that.

  10. “I dont let my baby watch kids programming but I sure watch a lot of adult programming with her in the room.”

    Same here but she sure loves How I Met Your Mother,Bones,Glee,Castle and Lost. What?? I am a mother I am not dead, mommy needs her shows.

  11. I would rather let my 3yr old watch Family Guy than SpongeBob. She doesn’t get most of the jokes on Family Guy, but SpongeBob is doing panty-raids with a starfish and crab? Also, I don’t get onto her sometimes when she uses foul language appropriately. I’m too impressed.

    • Late reply, but the one thing we’ve found that will turn my other half’s biological clock is an image of a little girl screaming F*** at a football game, then looking at Daddy to see if she used it appropriately.
      Awesome.

  12. I’ve recently been judged for *gasp* being pregnant in a bar!It was non smoking and it’s not like I was drinking! In fact, I was totally the DD. I didn’t realize I was supposed to hide in shame out of the public eye as soon as I got knocked up.

    • Geez yeah if there’s no smoking who cares? Is the beer going to somehow get into your womb through osmosis?

    • so long as you aren’t imbibing who cares, everyone one of my european friends had occasional glass of wine their entire pregnancy anyways I just wouldn’t do it in public. My hub’s (and friends) can’t wait till I’m prego and the DD, partly because I misbehave a little but also because I’ll be the driver.

      • What does “DD” mean? We try to avoid acronyms on Offbeat Mama, because I’m always clueless. 🙂

        • sorry Ariel, I hate acronyms too but DD (designated driver) or the double D I have used since before texting or any of this so it never occurred to me, oops

    • I had the same problem while preggers, I had people say that I should go home instead of being out ‘in my condition’.

  13. These are awesome!
    We let our 4 year old son play the Wii on the weekends while my husband and I play World of Warcraft
    He certainly watches more than an average of 1 hour of TV a day–only some of which is educational
    My husband had borrowed the child booster seat last week from my car and I forgot to put it back, so I was car-seatless when I picked up my son from school. I buckled him and and drove him home sans seat.

  14. @Alicia- I nearly got chased out of a liquor store one day while pregnant, with my son in tow. My partner and I had to go to a potluck after she got off work, so I needed to pick up a bottle of wine to contribute. Lord have mercy, I thought I was gonna be lynched in the parking lot!

      • This! My husband would send me to the store to pick up a beer for dinner just for the great stories about dirty looks.

  15. Last week at the grocery store a man rolled his eyes when my toddler was apparently too slow in getting out of the way of his shopping cart. I stuck my tongue out at him. My boys watch too much TV, play too many video games, eat too much crap (and use the word ‘crap’ appropriately, just not at grandma’s). Still think it’s preferable to momma needing valium!

  16. Here’s another one for you Ariel 😉

    Our little one LOVES her jumperoo and I let her hang out in it more than 20 minutes a day (gasp!)

  17. -My 3 year old gets into my makeup, puts bright, creme eyeshadow from her lashes to above her eyebrows, I don’t give a damn and take her out shopping anyway.

    -I nap when the kids are napping and only lock the front door because the rest of our house is kid-proof and the dogs bark if anyone comes within 30 metres of the house.

  18. -My son has been watching PG13 anime since he was a year old
    -I lock his bedroom door from the outside at night. I know its terrible! But I unlock it when I go to sleep, I just can’t stand when he won’t go to sleep and sneaks out every 10 minutes.
    -Parts of my house are downright gross, and I don’t even have the energy to care that much, as long as the toddler isn’t there.

  19. My 2 & 3 year old are eating peanut m&m’s as I type this & I let them eat some slices of American cheese this morning for breakfast. I’m 7 weeks pregnant & feeling like sh*t, so sometimes something’s gotta give.

    • Oh, & when I told my three-old she couldn’t have any more m&m’s she told me she didn’t love me. Fail.

      • I will never forget the day my 1.5 year old looked at me from across the room and with great pronunciation said “You Ruined My Life!” I said “Excuse me???” She repeated and I said…..” I made your friggen life and I will take it back!!!” =)

        • OMG, I’m not a mom, pregnant, or even considering having kidlets right this very second, but I had to reply to this post.

          When I used to piss my mom off she would say things like, “I’m the one who made you, so I can take you out and make another one just like you.” LOL. I don’t think I’m any worse for it.

        • Oh my god. I am part of offbeat bride, I’m bored and reading offbeat mama.

          This almost made me pee my pants. SO FUNNY. I had to comment. My office now knows I’m not working because of the laughing!

  20. DUDES and DUDETTES, this is a finely timed series of confessions!

    All the other family/mom blogs/other mothers have been making me feel like a mega-epic-super failure of a mother for a sink full of dishes, a breakfast cookie, and a do-nothing-exciting-for-the-kid kind of morning. It’s like I’m so accustomed to judgment that I non-stop judge myself. No wonder I have a headache.

    Loves!

  21. I am a (BRAND NEW) every-other-week stepmother *of sorts* to fiance’s almost-three-year-old daughter (notice my identity crisis?) and couldn’t pass up commenting on this.

    -I secretly hoard coloring pages and won’t allow my daughter to color on them because I want to color them instead.
    -I get nervous and twitchy allowing her to go near my nice prismacolors and have therefore bought her crayons *just* for her.
    -I delight in taking photo after photo of her…. even once she’s gotten upset with me for following her around with a camera.
    -I get a secret thrill of pleasure when she gets confused and calls me “mommy” even though we’ve all agreed that it’s better for her just to call me by name. (I also get a secret thrill of pleasure knowing she might someday slip up in front of her mother, who hates me)
    -I can only remember one time I’ve ever given her water to drink instead of juice. She won’t drink water and eventually the whining does me in.
    -I take her pajamas everywhere with me so when we’re headed home, we can dress her appropriately so we can just put her in bed, instead of dealing with the crying when we have to wake her up to dress her.
    -I will also ‘forget’ to give her a bath for the day if she’s asleep when we get home.
    -I will, at all costs, avoid changing poopy dipers (and refuse to try to potty train her because her mom doesn’t put effort into it on the off weeks)

    And finally (though there’s much more)

    -I often get jealous of her when more of my fiance’s attention is directed towards her or me, which consequently makes me feel horrible and worry that I truly AM a bad mom-wannabe, because what sane person resents a two-year-old the attention they get from their dad?

    In my own defense though, I’ve only been a mom all of about two months. I’m still trying to figure this out. (Hence, my recent stalking of this site.)

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