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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Reaping what you Sow, parenting style.

I absolutely do not want to ruffle any feathers today. Truthfully, I'm not in the mood and I very, very rarely like to be edgy with my statements or posts if I can help it. I'm not being wishy/washy, it's just that's not my style. Not here, anyway.

But I'm finding myself struggling with a few things recently. Mainly about parenting decisions. Judging. People having harsh opinions. Everyone seems to "know best" what's good for you, your child. People making blanket-statements and applying them to all children, every child, as if there's never any exception. And also? Non-parents judging current parents.

This one kills me the most.

Mainly? Because I've so been there. I know how making all these plans for future children, a list of your wills & won'ts and WILL ABSOLUTELY NEVERS can bite you in the butt so fast. How judging the way other people parent is a dangerous road because judgements always come back to haunt you. Always. I've been there, I've felt it. I've mumbled things in my head about other children's behavior--and now? I want to SLAP myself silly for ever thinking I had the right to have an opinion on something I knew nothing about.

Don't get me wrong. Having plans in place are great. Your ideals of how you intend to raise your children? Excellent. But I feel it's a careful line between that and being judgmental and all "I'll NEVER do that *eyeroll*" about another parent*. It's one to be mindful of, only because, I promise, you'll find yourself there one day, your mind will do that crazy flashback thing of how you judged some other mom of a tantrumming toddler in Target, and suddenly your perfect angel is doing the same thing, and ohmygosh it can't be. But it's happening. It's a twilight zone moment, trust me.

Because let's just be honest. No matter how often you work with children, think you really get them, it's when you know that whole breaking point and at your wits end part to the exhaustion of motherhood--that's when it's all A-HA. I actually get it now.

A few months ago we were in Best Buy. It was right around bedtime. Emeline wanted milk. I had nothing for her with me (it was in the car), and she just.wanted.to.run. But, when I'd let her down to go, she started pulling off iPad cases from the shelf. So I'd pick her up, and she started to do the whole kicking her feet and yelling "I get down!" repeatedly. Was it embarrassing? A little. But, again--I get it now. I can chalk up that behavior to a lot of things. Lots of factors that went into making her feel that way--irritable, cranky, needing to be free, in that moment.

Declan was in line checking out. The girl behind him had a sweet newborn baby girl, in a baby carrier. It was obvious this was her first little baby. And seriously, what newborn can do any wrong? I watched her eyes follow me around that area of Best Buy. As my kid tried to climb that huge ladder thing to reach the highest point of the store, as my kid yelled at me to GET!DOWN!, and as she pulled iPad cases off the rack. And then I SAW HER ROLL HER EYES AT US.

I couldn't do anything in that moment other than have flashbacks of the time I only had a precious little newborn baby, who just cried when she had a simple need, and could be cuddled back to happiness--who could do no wrong. Who couldn't talk back. Who was such a little doll...an angel. And then I thought back to moments where even I had judged toddler behavior, chalking it up to being bratty, or poor parenting, or whatever the heck I thought in my ignorant mind at the time.

I got in the car and told Declan about what happened, and how I really wanted to yell, "OH JUST WAIT WOMAN, YOU WILL SEE--You'll SEE" and shake my finger in her face.  But I didn't. Instead, I smiled at her sweetly and in my head I thought, One day you'll look back to this situation, find yourself in it, and say a silent I'm so sorry for judging that poor mom in Best Buy that night.

Because I know that I've had those moments...over and over and over again.

This is a constant battle for me, in my mind, and in my heart. I still judge others although I think I'm much more mindful of it than I ever was before. But I really try not to.

There are always exceptions. Scenarios. Bad days.

You can't always just chalk up situations you witness to bad parenting, a bratty kid, a neglectful mother.

Sometimes, kids are just kids and even with the best guidance and direction and parenting any loving and wonderful family can give them, things happen, and behavior is all- wicka-what? And you won't recognize them for moments throughout the day. And then it passes.

The important thing I'm learning is to keep my judgements aside. To not make big, bold, brash statements about parenting in general, their behavior, or even to make faces or insinuate the silent judgement (you know what I mean) of others.

I'd challenge you to do the same.

Have you ever found yourself in those moments now that you're a mother? Remembering a time you side-eyed some behavior that now you deal with? Shushing your toddler with an iPad in the store because you.get.it and had judged the moms who let their kid play video games at restaurants? Allowing your toddler to watch TV when you swore you'd never? It happens on the daily with me. I know I'm not alone. Share. Share away.  

***

*Please understand I'm talking about normal stuff. Not extremes. There are people on this earth who should not procreate, because they abuse children, etc--and honestly? I want to hurt people who are awful like that. I'm not talking about the 'extremes' in this post. I think everyone knows that but of course I'd like to clarify. :)


35 comments:

  1. I feel the same way and I don't have kids! I was at lunch with a friend (who also doesn't have kids) and there was a toddler at another table watching a show on some sort of portable DVD player and she went on this rant about how HER kids would never do that and they would learn how to behave at a restaurant without watching TV. But ya know what, that kid was quiet and not running around bothering people so WHO CARES? I will say that it annoys me when parents bring their kids to places that aren't really appropriate for them or don't take them out when they're disturbing others. I expect a little noise when I'm at a TGI Fridays. When I'm at a nice restaurant, I do not expect kids running around and screaming. But for the most part, I realize that you just can't stay at home until your kid is old enough to learn how to behave so as long as parents aren't just letting their kids run wild, I try to be understanding.

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  2. Girlfriend! I am guilty to the max of using TV as a babysitter when I want to eat in peace, put clothes away, clean the kitchen, you name it. Something I swore I'd never do and you bet your bottom dollar I'm eating those words! Some days I feel like parenting is all about survival, whatever it takes. Now when I see a mom struggling in public I just want to hug her and tell her we've been there too.

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  3. I will say I have definitely been guilty of rolling my eyes in the past. I try very hard to be mindful of someone's situation now because I just know that'll be me in very due time.

    I did have an exchange with a friend yesterday that I will never forget and I will forever judge her about. Her 17 day old, yes DAY old, daughter is apparently going through a growth spurt. My friend doesn't want to feed her too much because she is worried about weight issues. For a 17 day old child. I am still speechless.

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  4. Oh my goodness, I have SO been there, with the judge-y eyes looking at me. Ironically enough, it also happened to be in Best Buy (although A was a little younger than E), but it was last summer, I was pregnant, it was dinnertime, we were trying to do away with her pacifier so we didn't have anything with us and she had a complete meltdown. COMPLETE MELTDOWN. I remember walking her out of the store, s.c.r.e.a.m.i.n.g. And the eyes, oh, the EYES, burning holes right through me. I swore I'd never be the parent that let her kid scream in the store, and I didn't (and don't) but I still got those "looks". Ahhh. The joys of parenting. Sometimes no matter what you do, people think you're wrong or you should do it a different way. Just follow your mama instincts. YOU know what is best for your babes. :)

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  5. Katie, have you read Janelle's post on this topic?

    http://www.renegademothering.com/2012/06/23/you-know-who-you-are/

    I stand by what Janelle wrote and the comment I left. :)

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  6. I am VERY guilty of having pitied poor, sweet, neglected little children whose mothers couldn't be bothered to comb their hair or wash their faces before taking them out in public. SUCH A TRAGEDY, I used to think. Before I had kids. And found out that it's like their mission in life to get as filthy as possible on the way to any public place!

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  7. Very well written! It's so true that blanekt judgement is rarely, if ever, a good thing. Children definitely change your perceptions on everything. You now know that bad days and temper tantrums are completely inevitable, but you also know immediate and unconditional love.

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  8. Oh Katie you could not be more right about this. Before being a mom and even when K was teeny tiny I would always, ALWAYS see toddlers and think "What on earth is wrong with his/her parents!?". Now I think about how Kins throws her hands around and screams "Naaaaah (no) Mama!" when I pick something up in the grocery store. Or when she huffs (HUFFS!), purses her lips, and says "uh no no no no".

    I know I'm not a bad parents. Maybe I should giggle less at her and walk away more lol but I don't think there is ONE parent with a child out there that hasn't dealt with toddlerdom like we have!

    Off soapbox and great post! :)

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  9. Isn't that the absolute truth. Oh judgement. You bite back without hesitancy. But too I don't think that if we find a technique another parent uses that we think is unwise, then find ourselves using it, then finding ourselves using it multiple times makes it any less unwise. Parenting is difficult and we do have to work hard at it. It's always good to be constantly evaluating what we do and pay attention to the long term effects as opposed to the short term gratification. So just because we fell for the "unwise" decision we swore we never would doesn't necessarily make it okay because we succumbed one or more times. But oh how God knows each child is different and we do learn through experience what truly is best for our own child. More often than not we walk in the shoes we judged so harshly. By the grace of G

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  10. I remember being that judgy person with no kids thinking I'd NEVER let my kids sleep with me and that I'd NEVER breastfeed a toddler and that I'd NEVER let my kid watch tv before the recommended age. Now I laugh at myself because I do all of it.

    I rarely judge now except when I see parents yanking kids by their arms or slapping them in the face or not holding hands in a parking lot. That still bothers me. But everything else to survive an outing is acceptable. Ha.

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  11. I am guilty! I've been blessed with an easy kid publicly so far. Whenever I start to judge I remind myself of my bil's graduation. My sil's 3 year old nephew was acting up. Pretty normal for a 3 year old to be bored at a college graduation. But he was also on steroids to deal with his leukemia. It is even harder to discipline a child on steroids that spends a ton of time in the hospital. It is my ultimate you have no idea what's going on with that child.

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  12. I was so the judgy type in my non-kid days.

    I see people talk about how wonderful and fairy like their day to day is and I know it's so bad that I think "Oh just wait, you have no idea, your kid is not even a toddler yet." "Just wait until they can talk and have an opinion." Having a newborn is a cake walk in comparison.

    But I don't.

    Parenthood teaches me new lessons every day. With age I understand more of what life throws my way whether it involve Mia or not.

    The bottomline is we shouldn't judge, but it seems to be second nature sometimes.

    I just try to be better because at the end of the day I don't want people judging me.

    I'm trying. I'm trying my absolute hardest to raise my child the best that I can.

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  13. Yep. See http://www.poopwhisperer.com/2012/06/whatever-kidby-jess.html

    And that's just the most recent kid. Cause with every child I've given birth to? I've realized how much I absolutely don't know about parenting.

    Some things I'll never budge on, because they're moral guidelines and character standards rather than behavioral moments, but overall? I totally do all the stuff I never said I'd do.

    Including letting my kid sit in the Target cart covered in groceries. WHAT? SHE LIKES IT.

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  14. What a great post!! I was just thinking today how I would never let my kids watch a DVD in the car except for long car trips....hahaha...my 16 month old insists on watching Strawberry Shortcake on the way to daycare....and you know what...if that 10 minutes of "How do you Make a Friendship Cake" makes her happy, so be it. I want to run and scream if I hear that song one.more.time but it makes my little girl smile and laugh. And when I see her bopping her head along to the songs I can't help but smile too :)

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  15. Now that Jackson is 15 months old and we are entering this toddler phase head on these days are happening quite often! In fact I had that newborn mom staring me down at the grocery just last week as J tried to jump out of the buggy while throwing the $1 cup I'd given him as a distraction. Oh yeah, been there and it really puts things into perspective!

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  16. I was the queen of judging parents before I became one myself. Now, I'm pretty sure that, my three year old never has brushed hair, she wears her Belle dress and glass slippers to Target, my two year old opted for her princess gown as attire for the grocery store and they wear all of this while pretending to be puppies during any public outing. Puppies includes, but not limited to, barking, licking gross things, pulling each others clothes like they are leashes and only answering to the name of "molly girl".
    I just try to smile and get my errands done without someone calling the authorities on me:)

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  17. People that don't have kids will always be AMAZING parents. Then they have kids and will realize they do not have a clue. Before E, I was all "no tv and no character tees and no sugar" and blah blah blah. Now? Diego and Dora save (and kill) my sanity. Nothing makes my kid light up like her Dora or Elmo tee and if an M & M buys her happiness? well give me the whole bag.

    I get it though.I was Judgy McJudgerson before kids. Of course I've apologized to so many people in my heads time and time again. When we were at the beach, my bro and sis-n-law were giving me the judgy eyes as I chased my child down a boardwalk for the 30th time and I just spat out "you'll see". Because they will once theirs is out of the squishy newborn stage.

    Parenthood is about surviving and trying to turn these little people into decent adults. I don't care how you get there. Stop with the judgies people!

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  18. Oh, we've all been there. I've been judged. I've judged. I still do, though less.

    What always shocks me is how vocal people can be about their judgments. Heck, as I said on my blog today, I got verbally harassed about Ella's birthday cake being health and plain and gross. Meanwhile, I've been to many a birthday party where other mothers fed their kids cake that's not up my alley. But I didn't say anything. Honest to God, I didn't even think anything. B/c it's not cool to vocalize my personal judgment of a situation, short of child abuse/neglect.

    And yet, people all of a sudden feel empowered to spew judgment out loud when they see you have a kid on your hip.

    it's just aggravating, especially when most of us are doing our best, even when our kid has a break down mid-grocery trip because you won't let her eat the apples you haven't bought yet. (Me. Today.)

    Anyway, if anyone is judging you, they shouldn't be. You're a great mama. Screw them.

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  19. One more note. Almost worse than the eye roll is the sweet talking to my kid when he's throwing a fit and I am trying to discipline him. "oh poor boy! What's the matter? It's okay sweetie" when really he's being disobedient and throwing a fit because we do in fact have to leave the bank/park/homedepot..... It's so frustrating. Hhaha probably just over frustration from when it happens but still, people need to let people parent.

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  20. I made a quick run to the grocery store last week, knowing f I was pushing my limits with my errand running time and it was close to dinner time. As I was checking out the toddler was throwing a fit because she wanted goldfish crackers and the baby was SCREAMING because he hates his carseat. I let them both just cry...becuase what could I do? I could feel the eyes on me...and I was buying beer. I'm sure that didn't look good either. Ah well, they can judge all they want.

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  21. I just and to add a comment abouth the messy hair,dirty face/clothes. When my daughter was a newborn she always had on cute clothes and of course a bow I her hair. Now? Oh boy, hair is a disaster because she pulls everything out and dressing her is a nightmare because she has to do it herself " Hadley do it!" so if her clothes are dirty or on backwards, I don't care, at least we are out the door. Now that I have a newborn, I really don't care. Last week she went to Target wearing one sock...and it was MY sock. Pick your battles!

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  22. I was such a good Mom before I had kids ;)

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  23. You know I did a post VERY similar to this not too long ago about a "judgy" young lady in the Target, who clearly had no experience with children herself. I was a little more snarky though, figuring that Karma will happen... ;)

    And you know, I'm sure I gave Moms the evil eye before I had kids. Because I just DIDN'T KNOW. But keep things to yourself, no mean comments or eye rolling is necessary, you know?

    xo

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  24. Oh gosh. Guilty.
    I'm much more conscious now of how I see other parents. And I think it comes from knowing I've been judged... lots. Noah comes across as very "typical" at first glance. So when I don't apologize for him ignoring people when they say something to him? I know I'm being judged. They assume I'm raising a rude kid.
    It's sad that this is such an issue. But thank you for putting it so eloquently.

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  25. Oh... I've so been there on both sides of the issue! It's funny though, today we were at this craft thing at the library and the room was filled to the brim with children under the age of 5. One of the little boys had a meltdown in the middle of the room, and honest to god... nobody even batted an eye, conversation/chaos didn't stop for a second and I just laughed, because you could tell that the room was full of moms who were "in the trenches" so to speak, and everybody there understood.

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  26. Girl, I agree & I'm not a parent yet either. I did spent a LOT of years as a nanny, so maybe that's why. I mean, i know that's not even close to the same as being a mom but they still helped me learn some things! :) And I was a good nanny but i still had to deal with meltdowns in the store - and i would get judging looks ALL THE TIME from people who ASSUMED i was the mom! (I even once had a lady tell me i better make the kid i was babysitting stop sucking her thumb or she'd have to have braces & another time a woman openly judged me for being such a young mom (when i was just the babysitter! Ha!)

    ANYWAY - all that to say - my dear sweet wonderful husband is always making comments like "my kids will NEVER do that! And if they do, it will never happen again!" LOL. I'm like "ohhhh, dear." I just hope & pray that I don't have to reap what my HUSBAND is sowing! HAHAHA.

    Side note, he will be a GREAT daddy one day! It's just these comments that kill me. :)

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  27. Thank you so much for this honest and real post! I feel a constant struggle with this in my own life ... I do judge others and I know others judge me! Everyone has a different circumstance surrounding their trip out in public - no nap, sick baby, etc ... I have always chalked the "all eyes are staring at me and I am profusely sweating while I try to control my kid" events as God teaching me a lesson! And I have learned MANY lessons over the past 5 years - ha!

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  28. This happens to me more than I'd like to admit. Before having children, I wondered why it was so hard for people to control them? I once had to live with a girl and her one year old for about two weeks and I thought I would go insane b/c her child kept screaming when she wanted something (I just knew it was her being defiant because it wasn't a real cry) and I totally judged her mom for it. Now, my almost one year old screams to communicate, too. Of course he does! Karma is a funny thing. It's very humbling to see these lessons in life and have the reminder that everyone is just trying to make it through the day with a happy, healthy, well-behaved and thriving child. Who am I to judge which vehicle may take them in that direction? Good post.

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  29. I love this post. We had a similar situation to you a couple weeks ago. We were in Barnes and Noble. They have a train table, so I let my 2-yr-old son play at the train table and I sat with him while the hubs shopped, and then we traded off. When it was time to go, said 2-yr-old had a complete, kicking and screaming, meltdown. It was close to lunch time and he was hungry. He wanted to stay and play. He is two. Hubby was in line to pay as I was carrying the screaming child under one arm and our 6-mo-old son in the other out to the car. Hubby heard the woman behind him say something about "that kid" and he said it was all he could do not to turn on her. People are so very judgmental. When I see a mother with a screaming toddler or infant, my heart goes out to her, because I have most definitely been there!

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  30. *sigh*

    Totally been there, done that. Judging will NEVER end and THAT Mother will always be "better" than you...blah, blah, blah.

    I guess we just take it in stride now (b/c we have actually been the Mom w/ THAT kid)

    Have you ever witnessed a kid in the grocery store, WalMart, or Target completely throwing a fit! Screaming their head off at Lord knows what and "OMG WHY CAN'T THAT MOTHER CALM HER KID" type of situation, where you want to walk away but still keep notice? Just me?

    Well...I have been that Mother. TWICE! The first time Trey wanted a Cars bubble bath in the shape of McQueen. It was broken and dirty and I was not going to pay $5 for a broken toy. LoL! Normally, Trey has always been good about letting a toy or book go for another time (bribes work, mind you) but not this time. This time, he literally (I kid you not) screamed as if I was murdering him! He was in the basket part of the buggy, holding on to the back of the seat where Jackson was sitting, screaming and JUMPING up and down saying "I WANT IT! I WANT IT!" Shoot me now...

    All I could manage to do was walk out of the store, w/ a semi smile (no worries my kid is not being tortured) kinda way and just let him scream. If I could have left him there, I would. *okay not really* But OMG! I got it! I will never judge a Momma about her kid throwing a fit in a store. Ever. I seriously could not believe that Trey had done something like this...after all he is over 3 years old. He has got to be over that phase. Ummm...no.

    So yeah....Momma of the year there. Sheesh. :P

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  31. Hi! My name is Lindsey and I am a former judger.

    I was the perfect parent until I had kids. I had all of these plans and ideas - some superficial like no character tees and that my living room wouldn't turn into Toys R Us. Yeah Kate loves her Mickey/ Minnie things and my living room? It's covered in primary colored toy vomit.

    I also just knew that I would never have a screaming child in public, would never use the word no, looked down on co-sleeping. I could go on and on.

    Becoming a parent is so humbling. I'm realizing with each new phase we reach, I am tucking my tail between my legs, eating a big slice of humble pie, and realizing that the people I judged in my prior life were simply getting by - doing what they need to do to survive!

    I am now firmly in the "whatever works for you as long as your child(ren) aren't in danger" camp. And I'm certain that 99% of people who actually have kids take up residence in this camp as soon as they have an outside baby!

    I am constantly reminding myself that even if I don’t necessarily agree with someone’s parenting decision, it is their decision, and not my place to judge them. It may have taken me over a year of parenting to get to that point but I’m certain all that matter is I am there now!

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  32. As a non-parent who has been around those crazy toddlers who might just be having a bad day, and as that person who did roll her eyes and wonder why the mom couldn't control her kid, I am sorry. Judging others for a brief passing glance into their lives isn't fair. Thanks for the reminder! I promise to not roll my eyes the next time.

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