Confessions and learning to stop the judgement

Updated Oct 12 2015

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.

  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. πŸ™‚

    • 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.

  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.

    • 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.

  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!

  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 πŸ˜‰

    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.

      • 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.


  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.)

  22. I totally agree with this…I am NOT the Ultra-Mom Bot 5000 with the Betty Crocker option. My boys are LOUD, they wage war in my living room in front of guests and engage them as well (willing or un-willing)are usually covered in something sticky and have enough scrapes and bruises to make a roller derby team proud. Plus, my three year old is uncommonly fond of the words DAMMIT! and SHIT! (Products of my love for sandals and wooden furniture) But as long as I get to kiss those boo-boos better, I couldn't ask for more!

  23. my three year old regularly spends about 12 hrs a day in her bedroom by herself. The room is completely baby proofed and has nothing but small toys and her toddler bed in it. Like me she likes time to herself and on days where she has less time than that alone she's extremely grumpy. I figure she's safe and happy so I let it go.

  24. As I write this, my 21 month old munchkin is climbing/sitting on the edge of her high chair feeding herself REALLY processed chicken nuggets while watching children's tv…hmmmm… and bf of two weeks just got her a grape bag cos i'm 'busy'! oh well πŸ™‚ Munchkin also delights in telling grandma that i play ring a roses with children at school(where i work)as if i don't play it at home too!

  25. I think you might secretly be me. Oh, except I let my kids walk barefoot all over the Public Health Office πŸ™‚

  26. Just a check-in here, mamas. I just removed some comments that felt like more like mean rants against other mothers than confessions.

    The goal here is to confess your parenting mistakes as a way of releasing judgments of others … not to confess our negativity toward other women. Offbeat Mama is not about hate or bitching, ESPECIALLY hating on other mothers.

    • Thanks! I think its healthy to read and write about our issues because even the most amazing mom in the world will still slip up on occasion. It makes me feel better Im not the only one out there!

  27. I ENCOURAGE my 8 yo stepson to watch PG movies. (I think 8 is perfectly old enough to watch "Ghostbusters!")

    I don't want him to call me mom, but I would be secretly thrilled if he came up with a "mom" alternative for me, instead of my first name.

    He is Jewish, but I still cook bacon when he visits. (I don't make him eat it, and he's not Orthodox, but I can't live 2 months without Teh Pig.)

    I am wondering if 8 yo is old enough to teach him how to make a cappucino…(The first thing I ever learned to make was popcorn for my dad, when I was about 6…)

    His mom sends him to a fancy prep school neither family can afford, and I secretly resent the money that could go towards fixing the hole in my kitchen ceiling, when there are perfectly fine public schools in her hood. (And I am a teacher, so it's really frustrating.)

    I encourage him to be a little sassy, and to get dirtier.

    His mom says he wants to be a vegetarian, but if he wants meat when he's here, I don't really care. I'm all "Mmm…delicious steak!" Although I DO get free-range and organic meat when he visits; his dad and I get the regular stuff most of the time, when he's not.)

    I am really respectful of most of the co-parenting things, but these are the naughty things I do.

  28. This is fantastic!

    My husband is unemployed and stays at home with our 4mo son. Sometimes, when I check on my son before I go to work and notice that he is waking up, I will sneak out of the house rather than just deal with the diaper or whatever it is.

    Also, sometimes it's just easier to give him a bottle and pump rather than let him nurse (and sometimes, that bottle has just a little formula in it!)

    I don't always change his shirt immediately, either, when he gets a little spit-up on it. I've also been known to put pants or a shirt back on him if they are dry, not too gross, and I haven't done laundry yet.

    Hey, this is pretty empowering stuff.

  29. So, I'm a single working mom. And from the get-go I decided to raise an independent kiddo. Oh, btw, while I write this my 4 yr old son is sitting on the back of my office chair, which is pushed up against a wall. He just finished washing all the dinner dishes pretty much by himself (I rinsed them so I could check that they were clean). I taught him to do dishes about a week ago on the pretense that it was a good chore for him to do and he really does like helping around the house. But it really was because I was just tired of doing the dishes all the time!

    And he just fell off the arm of my chair. Which he found funny.

    Let's see, what else? I have explained to him (today) that I am really tired and would appreciate it if he could leave me alone, I have more than once thrown away his underwear and let him go commando when we were in public and he had an accident, and I have been known to bribe him with gum so he will be quiet in the car and I can listen to music without him constantly trying to ask me questions. Oh, and on six hour car rides I let him watch movies. For the whole ride.


  30. Hmmm… I have such a long list!

    I told my son that sometimes it IS ok to hit someone, despite what the school says (not politically correct I know, but we're talking self-defence here)

    I have totally forgotten to change his sheets after an early morning accident until putting him in bed at end of the day and smelling urine

    I lie to get him to do things. Then sometimes after he has done said thing I tell him I lied so he would do it.

    I tell him there are lots of adults who he doesn't have to listen to and I name them.

    I ate his last Easter eggs after I realised he had forgotten about them.

    I vacuum Lego up.

    I still think I am an ok mum.

  31. I have a 2 1/2 yr old daughter. My confessions:

    ~ I'm the mom that has the camera in my daughter's face telling her to smile and say 'cheese' 24/7.

    ~ My husband and I leave our daughter in the house alone (asleep) while we go out to the apt complex laundry room.

    ~ She has learned the f-bomb from my husband.

    ~ I spank her in public *gasp*

    ~ We just spend a couple of hours in the urgent care the other night because I was holding her by the hands and picked her up. Her elbow popped out of the joint.

    ~ Our tv is on all day long, but only on educational age appropriate shows… she either watches or she doesn't. I like it on for noise, even if it's a silly song.

    ~ I swing her upside down and toss her in the air. Although, she's getting heavy, so I won't be able to that anymore.

    ~ We eat processed meats.

    ~ I secretly like her sass. Not towards me, but towards others.

    ~ When I was 7 months pregnant, I locked myself out of our house. I left my purse and cell phone inside too! So I couldn't call anyone. Neighbors weren't home. The only window that was open was in the back bedroom, so I climbed the fence, removed our a/c unit that was sitting in the window, climbed on an ice chest, and straddled my way through the window. It was very challenging and I got yelled at for it.

  32. My three year old son callum and my husband are both passionate about rugby, one team in particular- the dragons, my husband tends to get very vocal during matches and often swears at the tv, my son has also taken to using bad language during the games but it doesnt seem fair to scold him and not daddy, so he knows he can only repeat what daddy says and ONLY during football games… its terrible i know!

  33. 1) in the wee hours of the morning I breastfeed my 1 month old in the bed with me w/ no positioner and usually fall asleep.
    2) i smoked cigarettes throughout my entire pregnancy and still do, and in order to have a cigarette i put her in her swing indoors by the sliding glass door and i stand outside and smoke while i watch her. i also have about 5 drinks a week even though i'm breastfeeding
    3) i forget to give her vitamin d drops every day, i'm lucky if i remember to do it 4 times a week
    4) i wear her in a wrap while i shower, using the removable shower head ( i cannot go a day without showering, post partum bleeding/sweats are not a pleasing smell)
    5) i have a picking ocd-like obsession, so when her skin is shedding i peel it, even if she fusses.
    6) even after doing all of these things, i don't think of myself as a "bad mom"

    my mantra i tell myself if i ever do feel like i should be the perfect mom is- its not easy being perfect. my imperfections make me human.

    • same here with the smoking.. and guess what!! my daughter is perfectly fine.

      i also sleep with her, "hold her too much" according to some people, i have a terrible potty mouth that i don't plan to clean up, and my house is a fucking pig stye πŸ™‚ damn that felt good!

  34. Just saw this, had to contribute.

    I definitely let my kid eat off the floor. The floor in question is not always clean. Sometimes I'll even set a plate on the floor, like he is a puppy.

    We are on 9 a hour drive, monkey is 9 mo old. Four hours of non-stop screaming later I totally hoist that little sucker out of the car seat and breastfeed him. In the backseat, on the highway, while the car is in motion.

    I regularly fall asleep on the couch in the morning while he watches cartoons.

    I guilt trip my relatives into watching him.

    If daddy is coming home in 1/2 an hour and I smell a poop I will leave it for him to 'discover'.

    I play the 'I carried him for 9 months and went thru labor' card all the fucking time.

    I have no mommy friends and worry I am stunting him by not having "playdates". Still haven't gotten up off my ass to find a playgroup tho.

    Wow. That felt good.

  35. I love this article and the comments. If only we were not so hard on ourselves we would probably not be so judge-y to others. I know I totally have the guilts over not being there enough for my boys (now 12 & 16).

  36. Thank you thank you thank you everyone for these confessions. This makes me feel so much more normal.

    I have been known to scream like a banshee and even, occasionally, to smack. (Don't do that anymore – in fact, there have been more cases when I smacked myself or screamed into towels, out of the children's sight.)

    I have felt enormously guilty over this and horrifically angry because of the guilt and screamed some more because of the anger.

    I loved "baby time" but disliked playing with my son from the time he was about a year old. I was bored to tears with toddler toys and activities. I used to pick dishes and cleaning (while watching TV secretly) over entertaining him any time and leave him to my "partner".

    I only started to build up a "real" relationship once he was close to 3 years old and we could have conversations.

    I still do not entertain my son or my daughter. I maintain that is their own job.

    I spend much of the day sprawled on the couch with my baby daughter, breastfeeding her, and watch a lot of TV and go online, and I don't mind much that she can, and does sometimes, see both screens.

    I don't take her on walks every day. When I do get out, it's because I need/ want to do something, not to get her to a baby activity group. If I do make the effort to go out, it will be for my benefit, not hers.

    However, I think I do take care of both of them pretty well. And I make sure I get up with the older one every morning, make some breakfast (even if it's only cornflakes) and spend some time laughing with him.

    I think I'm an OK mom too.

    Oh and yes that does feel so good.

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