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. :)