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 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!

  2. 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.

  3. 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 🙂 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!

  4. 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!

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.


  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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!

  11. 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 🙂 damn that felt good!

  12. 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.

  13. 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).

  14. 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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