Monday, June 16, 2014

I am supposed to be grading papers.  But my email doesn’t think I should be allowed to attach them. This leads to frustration. Furthermore, I think the only way I’ll ever lose weight again is if I stop eating carbs completely. It’s either that or stop breathing. And seeing as I already do that while I sleep, and that’s done me a lot of good, here’s hoping all protein and no bread make mommy a skinny gal.

And then there’s this lovely little piece I stumbled upon that I’ve been stewing over all weekend.  The dumbed down version goes something like this:  child of unspecified age was crying in a store while, adding insult to injury, being pushed in a stroller. She was crying so hard that snot was running down her face, which is meaningless in this home as snot is that which is always all over someone’s face. The mother, who was as insensitive as to place this small person in a forward facing stroller, was not responding to the wails of the child. Never fear, Sanctimommy is here! She steps in and makes it clear that she frowns on the mother’s parenting. Furthermore she writes about it and then enjoys the countless internet comments saying, in various forms, “you go girl!” Whereas I was left saying “You girl….GO.”
This pompous, self-serving story irritated me for several reasons. I’m certain the first and foremost reason is I’ve been that mom before. Not the Sanctimommy, who knows better and therefore judges better, but the mom of the screaming toddler. I’m still that mom. See it goes something like this; toddler wants to walk, so mom says ok. Toddler takes off running, so mom insists on hand holding. Toddler bites mom’s hand. Mom puts toddler, who is screaming so that the ever present snot is running down his face, in the cart. Where he screams. And the mom ignores because two years of actually knowing the child has taught her that engaging when raging never ends pretty.

So to the Sanctimommy, I’m the heartless ignoramus bent on torturing my child. Wherein reality, I’m a mom who knows the difference between my toddler’s rage and my toddler’s need. Heck I know when my baby is angry and when she’s aching. I know this because I know them. I’ve been the one drying eyes, wiping noses and changing diapers for the last few years. And I’m the one who committed to see them through infanthood to adulthood, ideally helping them mature into reasonable citizens. One way to do that is to not give in to temper tantrums. While you, dear Sanctimommy, do what makes YOU feel good, how do you know that the mother you were so freely judging wasn’t do what was good for her child?

Why do people assume the worst of parents? Why do they assume if a child is crying it’s because her parents are neglectful beasts at worst or incompetent at best? It seems to me the default assumption in today’s society is that the parents are doing it wrong. Well aren’t we all special! We can pass judgment on complete strangers and how they approach the most important job they will ever do in the course of seventeen seconds. Yup, that makes sense.

In my eleven years of parenting, I’ve met countless parents. And I can count on one hand the parents I truly believed were neglectful and possibly abusive. Sure, there are plenty parents whose styles aren’t my cup of tea. And yes, I’ve cringed at the way I’ve heard parents talk to their children, but I’ve never felt the need to don a cape, swoop in and lecture away. See, I figure most, if not all parents I encounter, love their children with the fierce passion that I love mine. I assume that they want to the absolute best for their kids and they are giving their all to the effort.

Maybe it’s a result of having so many children. It’s crystal clear that there is no one and only way to raise a child. There’s no perfect method, no flawless system. I’ve had to come up with five different game plans, and then toss them because no one on the team is playing by the rules. It took me four children to get one who tried to squirt furniture polish in his mouth. While we were shopping. And yes, he cried real tears when I took it away from him. And the wails got louder each time I caught him trying to sneak it. There was no comforting him and I was uninterested in assisting him in poisoning himself. Judge away Sanctimommy.

While I read the article, I imagined what I would do if it had happened to me. And I laughed. Because I could see X-Man howling away because I wouldn’t let him sample ice cream. And knowing my son, if anyone got in his face during one of his outbursts, they would most likely find themselves smacked across the face. Then he would cease to complain loudly about me and begin to complain loudly to me.  And I would have agreed full heartedly. 

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