i frequent a message board (thebump) and came across a post this morning that made me think.
basically, one mother was defending her questionable parenting choices & several other mothers were attempting to educate her on why said methods might not be the best idea.
in this specific case i wouldn't say the original poster was being "judged" for her choices. as i stated, her methods are very questionable & frankly, borderline abusive.
i won't mince words- she's doing it wrong.
and a few ladies let her know this, very nicely i might add, and suggested ways to perhaps make her life a little easier.
they didn't jump down her throat & tell her she was a bad mom- instead they sympathized with her situation & let her know they know what she's going through.
now- i'm usually a "live & let live" type of person. stay out of my business & i'll stay out of yours. you do your thing & i'll do mine. agree to disagree. etc etc.
but i've found myself stepping out of my comfort zone every now & again.
i recall a time when i was working at McDonald's (be jealous of my employment under the golden arches) and a mother (who was around my age) came in with her child & ordered lunch. a happy meal of some sort.
i think the kid was probably around 2. he was zooming around the room and the mother looked...frazzled. meh. whatever. i was 20 & couldn't care less.
i think i probably mentally judged her for allowing herself to get knocked up so young.
about 5 minutes into their meal i could hear her shouting from the dining room. i peeked around the corner & witnessed what can only be described as a total breakdown.
she wanted him to eat. he didn't want to eat. he wants to play. he's 2. she's tired. she's upset. she has no idea what she's doing (?).
"NO! TOY! DOWN!" (he throws throws half the content of his tray onto the floor)
"NO TOY! EAT YOUR DAMN FOOD RIGHT NOW!"
she procedes to snatch the toy out of his hand, smack him on the hand & stuff a few fries in his mouth.
of course now he starts crying.
she tells him to be quiet.
then he starts choking.
now scared herself, she tells him to stop crying & he'll stop choking.
then she starts crying.
i look around the dining room- people are staring but doing nothing. i do see a mother with a couple older kids at another table start to get up- but my feet had already propelled themselves into action.
i'm 20. i have no kids. no clue how hard it is & honestly, i'm more concerned with paying my rent & finishing up a paper that's due in 24 hours.
but i did know that something was wrong.
this woman was losing her effing mind & no one was going to do a damn thing.
i ran over just in time to pound the kid on the back & watch him vomit up the contents of his stomach. all over himself, the table & the floor.
i watched as his gagging turned to sobs & then sniffles as his mother sat there, literally, frozen.
not moving. not talking. just watching me.
i asked him if he was ok? yes. did he want a new toy? yes. some juice? yes.
by now another mother (who was there with her own children) had come over to assist me.
we wiped him up & stripped him down to a diaper. a diaper that needed to be changed.
the woman took the boy into the bathroom to change him.
let me remind you that his own mother is still sitting there saying nothing. she's just crying.
once the other mother took the kid into the bathroom i sat down in his seat across from her.
so there i sat, in all of my 20 year old glory, mouth open- ready to ask her wtf her problem was when she looked up at me & said, in the most pitiful voice i've ever heard,
"i am so sorry. you must think i'm the worst mother in the world, don't you?"
and i just stopped.
oh my God. what do you say to that?
i looked at her & actually saw her (this may or may not have had something to do with the Psychology class i was currently taking)
young. tired. scared. broken. horrified with herself. the same age as me.
who the eff am i to judge her? i know nothing about her (except that fact that she likes extra onions on her burger which is despicable). i have no idea what it's like to be in her shoes.
"No. i don't. you're just....no one is perfect."
"Oh my God. is he ok? oh my God. i'm so sorry Dylan! oh my God..."
"He's fine. just...he's all pukey. kinda gross. i gave him a new toy & he's getting changed."
by now the dining room has cleared out. but out of the corner of my eye i see the cops pull up.
she sees it too.
she literally crumples up. in on herself. making herself as small as she can. she starts crying again.
i tell her it's ok. i'll explain.
the other mother comes out. the girl's son & her own 3 kids in tow.
he sees his mom & comes running over. she scoops him up & he hugs her. she tells him she's so sorry. she loves him.
he tells her he has a new toy. and that he "frowed up!"
she thanks the other mother who smiles & tells her it's ok. she knows how it is (gesturing to her own 3 kids)
the cops come in. more tears. time to explain.
the other mother stays put & rubs the girl's back.
the kids run around the dining room.
i hear things like, "CPS. need help...programs. have you done this before? it's ok. i have 2 boys...."
in the end the cops give her a stern lecture about disturbing the peace & the need to control herself. they take her info & tell her there will be a follow up with a Social Worker.
she looks relieved by this.
the other mother stays the whole time.
i clean up the floor (freaking nasty) and keep an eye on the kids.
the girl thanks me. tells me i have no idea how much she appreciates everything.
the other mother gathers up her own kids & walks out with the girl & her son.
i watch them exchange info & get kids loaded into cars.
they drive away.
good bye. good grief. wtf just happened here?
i'm not going to say this was some big turning point for me. i quickly put the whole mess out of my mind & went on turn 21 & then 22 & then 23 & then get married & etc etc.
i still did my share of eye rolling & stating "that will NEVER when i have kids....!!!"
you know the deal.
and then i had alex. and then she turned 1. and then she had her very first tantrum.
and as the husband & i stood there, with mouths agape, watching our child kick & scream & spit (yes, spit)- the above memory exploded upwards and out from the deep recesses of my brain.
oh my God.
and then as she had more tantrums. and more. and more. and then i had brynn. and then i juggled 2 babies. and then alex started hitting & kicking & saying "NO!" & throwing food & wanting popsicles for breakfast, lunch & dinner...i got it.
this is so hard. and i have no idea what i'm doing. and i might lose my mind.
i want to point out that if the above McD's scenario had happened in the privacy of her own home, no one would have been the wiser. but because her breakdown happened in public- she never stood a chance.
we have ALL done things in the privacy of our own homes that we wouldn't dream of admitting to people. things that we might think of later on & feel pretty damn guilty about.
and so far as a mother i have said & done things i'm not proud of. i've had many a moment of weakness when alex is screaming for no apparent reason & brynn wants to be held.
when i haven't slept in days & there is laundry to be folded, groceries to be purchased & the dogs have peed on the floor AGAIN!!!
i've yelled back. i've screamed. i've cried.
i've thrown a toy across the room. i've slammed a door. i've seen red. i've lost it.
i've watched alex hit her sister even after i've said no. i've watched her get up from the chair i've sat her in, walk over, and smack her again. i silently remind myself that smacking her back isn't going to get my point across. is it?
she just hit brynn. i said no. how can i now hit her? how would that even...?!
and at my wits end, after watching her kick brynn in the face (for the 3rd time) i've found myself tapping her on the hand & shouting "OH MY GOD ALEX! KNOCK IT OFF!"
and in those moments i'm pretty sure that if anyone saw me they'd be horrified. perhaps even thinking that i'm a bad mom.
how could i yell at my kid? how could i throw my own tantrum? how could i just say,
"FINE! do whatever you want!!! here's a marshmallow! just give me 5 minutes PLEASE!!!"
i'm being honest here. and all i can say is try to be honest with yourself. if you see something that makes you want to judge, take a step back & put yourself in their shoes (if you even can).
if you're a parent- you. have. been. there.
instead of putting on your self righteous suit, try to help. try to be understanding. try to remember what it felt like when you were losing control.
wether it be online or in real life.
i'm not in any way condoning violence or abuse. both are wrong & should never happen. if it is happening, it should be reported.
i'm talking about the times where we all lose our cool & need a gentle reminder that we're human & it's ok to make mistakes. but that we need to learn from those mistakes & work on ways to make sure they don't happen again.
we need to stop pointing fingers and labeling others as a "bad mom" because that simply isn't our place.
on the same token, we need to admit to our faults & not take offense when given a suggestion on how to avoid certain situations.
plugging our ears to good advice & staying stuck in a rut won't do us any favours. amen?
so now when i see a mother at Target, with her kid screaming at the top of his lungs because he can't have his way, and i watch her either give in or ignore his wails- i don't roll my eyes or tsk tsk anymore- because oh my God, i was just there 5 minutes ago.
and now my kid, although tear streaked, is happily playing with a toy i told her she couldn't have.
i feel your pain. i really do.
p.s. you're a good mom. remember that.