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*
- My son uttered his first F-Bomb when he was 20 months old. He *totally* learned it from me.
- 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.
- My house usually looks like a bio-hazard site.
- I let my kidlets play and occasionally eat off of the dirty floors in said house.
- My thirty second rule is more like thirty minutes.
- I sometimes let my three year old watch too much television in order to get a workout or a quiet coffee in.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- I haven’t given up coffee and the occasional diet coke, even though I know caffeine gives my baby gas.
- I have been known to holler too much at the end of the week (and sometimes at the middle too.)
- I barter juiceboxes for good behaviour.
- 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.