I’m over you. Well, if we’re being honest, I never liked you to begin with. But now I’m over giving you the power to make me feel crappy about my own kid’s behavior because you’ve caught me on a day when yours is acting like a rock star and mine is acting like, well, a kid. You’ve decided to give me a nasty look or comment and I just don’t want to see you anymore. The thing that sucks the most is that you’re everywhere.
The first time I came across your kind, my daughter was 6-months-old. We were at a mommy group for other new parents and I tried to be your friend. Oops. Your own daughter was 3-months-old and you acted like my infant should be ready for finishing school. “She’s all over the place!” you tsk-tsked. And when my crawler was face-to-face with your baby and the two accidentally bumped heads (lightly), you freaked out and declared my baby aggressive. I mean, come on. That’s just ridiculous.
Several months later, one of you referred to my 13-month-old as a “bull in a China shop” when she knocked down a tower of blocks at another meet-up. Your child wasn’t yet walking, but I thought under my breath, “Just wait.” Moments later you asked me, pointedly, what I’m doing about discipline. When you figure out a way (or a reason!) to “discipline” a toddler for knocking over blocks, please feel free to share.
You’re not always in my circle of “friends” though. I see you everywhere from the supermarket to the park. You happen to find a good day (or maybe it’s a whole good life, in which case, good for you), but you’ve found a sweet spot wherein your kid is behaving like a freaking angel and your own claws come out. The kids harnessed in carts in the checkout line or bored of the swings at the playground are pitching meltdowns and you’re looking down your nose because, obviously, your kids are better than everyone else’s.
Let me tell you something.
Just like all human beings, children have personalities, mood swings, and complicated moments. And as their brains and bodies grow and become more complex, there will be stretches of time — heaven help me, months of time! — when they will behave badly. From teething to exhaustion, diaper rash to separation anxiety, my household has already been hit with plenty of dramatic days. And at only 19 months into this whole parenting thing, I know we’re just getting started.
And I’m one of the lucky ones! My toddler is just an expressive, angsty ball of energy with a loud voice who doesn’t love being strapped in and prefers to be in motion than still. What about the moms whose kids are battling actual problems that cause them to “act out?” What about the homes where tantrums are a fact of daily life? Perfect mom with your perfect kids, did you ever stop and think what your rude words and dirty looks feel like to the parent upon whom you’re imparting them? Pretty darn crappy. Now you know.
I’d like to apologize to exactly one of you, because you took the brunt of my year-and-a-half of pent-up feelings about all you moms whose kids are better than everyone else’s. We were both waiting in line at a store, where my toddler is usually, actually pretty cute. She loves blowing kisses to the cashiers and helping me put our items on the conveyor. But on this particular day, she had a mean diaper rash and was cutting four molars. It was over 90 degrees outside.
I ask you, mom with the perfect kids, how would you feel if you were my daughter in that situation? If your entire crotch area was burning with a rash you didn’t understand and your gums were exploding with four different focal points of a deep, wrenching ache? And you didn’t have the words to express what you were going through. Would you be chipper and blowing kisses at the cashier, or just plain old sitting still like your own kids were that day? I doubt it. I think you’d be bawling your eyes out, just like my daughter was.
In that moment, I could have used a sympathetic smile, but instead you decided to tell me I shouldn’t have my child out in public in a “mood” like that. I looked down at the baby pain reliever and medicated diaper rash cream I was about to purchase, and back at you. And I completely lost my sh*t. I glared at you with my crazy eyes — the ones typically only reserved for major fights with people I love — and told you exactly where you could take your judgmental attitude. Hint: The place I suggested is hotter than the weather was that day.
And I am sorry. Because it wasn’t just you — it’s all of you. All of you moms who lucked out in the behavior department on a given day or with a given child. That’s your moment and that’s your life, and you just roll with it. I have a lot of those, too. I have a sweet, beautiful, loving child who is a human being and not a paradigm of model behavior. And I’m cool with that. Because for every tear, I get a cuddle. For every meltdown, there is a period of calm. And for every judgmental mom like you, there must be a cool one out there. The trick is finding those — if you know any, please send her my way. Make sure to let her know that I don’t care about her child’s behavior, only her own.
The Imperfect Mother of an Imperfect Child
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