This entry will be quick and poorly edited, but much needed since I feel like I have been on hiatus since January. My neglected blog is yet one more casualty in what has become my crazy life.
Starman has reached that charming toddler stage where he is into EVERYTHING!!! He has mastered the ability to scale anything in the house, so nothing is safe, but he still lacks the self-control to listen when I tell him no. Also, he's teething and he is, without a doubt, the WORST teether on the face of the planet. He screams non-stop, refuses to sleep or be comforted and it goes on for days and days for each tooth that comes in.
Add in a trip out of state to visit my birth father's family (the post-visit blog, which I promise is coming soon, is still rattling around in my head) add in end of the year stuff for the girls and I seem to be meeting myself coming and going these days. I am pretty sure I have a husband too, but I haven't seen much of him between our two crazy schedules, so spending time with The Husband has gone on my wish list as well, along with time to write and the more important, time to sleep.
That being said, I have a quick thought, in the weekend leading up to Mother's Day weekend: Why is it that we feel obligated to criticize other people's parenting?
Yesterday I had a very bad day with the girls. In all fairness, I had a bad day all by myself, the girls just pushed it over the edge. It may have been because they had a very long week with too many after-school commitments. It may have been because I had a very long week with too many after-school work commitments. It may have been the anxiousness of heading to the doctor (that always brings out the worst in my kids) or it may have been because I had all three and my oldest, Snowflake was having trouble with the fact that it was all about her little sister, Raindrop. Maybe she was just mad I took her out in the last hour of school which is art, her favorite class. I don't know what it was, but despite being impeccably well-behaved in the waiting room, and in the office room waiting for the doctor, the SECOND the Dr. walked in, all....hell....broke...loose. They were jumping off the counters and running around. They were getting into cabinets, interrupting the doctor and making so much noise I could barely hear. Snowflake was poking her sister making her cry. Raindrop was refusing to open her eyes and look at the pediatrician because she was just sure she "needed glasses." (She also purposely failed the eyesight test with that in mind). Poor Starman just watched the carnage quietly from the stroller.
Now luckily the kids' doctor knows and loves us. She knows I am a good parent and that my children (mostly) have manners. The worst part for me was when we had to give Raindrop her shot (please friends of mine who are anti-vaccinations, just skip the next paragraph, I am too tired to debate the issue and the following scenario will probably make you think I am a the worst parent ever)...
Anyway, Raindrop took one look at the needle and started screaming hysterically. She then proceeded to bite, hit, claw and kick anyone who came near her. After holding her down screaming at the top of her lungs (pretty sure they heard her in Canada) while the whole time Snowflake is not helping with, "I certainly don't act like that when I get my shots. I am a big girl. You are just a big fat baby" I was shaking and vacillating between laughing and crying. When it was all finally over, the nurses had to turn and comfort me because I started bawling like a baby and felt totally traumatized.
Flash forward. I shared this traumatic parenting experience with someone close to me who immediately made the comment that this scenario wouldn't have happened if I wasn't such a push-over parent. The gist was that if I didn't "spare the rod" my children wouldn't be so spoiled and I would not now be in tears. Seriously!!!?? Since when does having ONE bad day with your kids, who are still little and were at the end of a very long week, suddenly mean that my entire parenting structure is called into question? Last time I checked EVERYONE has a bad day...sometimes, like yesterday for us, moms and kids have bad days all together at the same time. That's when things really look bad. But, where is the support and the sympathy from people? Admitting that parenting is hard is the cornerstone to building a more supportive community for parents, which is something this blog seeks to promote. We can't do that if the very fact of admitting that our children aren't perfect immediately opens us up to public commentary on our parenting skills. No wonder we are, as a society, so obsessed with protecting our kids from every bad choice or misdeed.
I had a long talk with my girls last night and they were very apologetic. I sent them to bed two hours early (not without supper, since we all know that is a CPS-worthy offensive these days) and I heard much noise upstairs. Eventually I stomped up the stairs to see what was going on and found that they had cleaned their room AND their brother's room as an apology. They told me how sad they were that I was disappointed in them and that they understood why I was so frustrated. We sat down and had a long talk and I asked them for ideas about how they thought I could get them to listen better. I honestly told them that certain people thought that I should spank them. I then asked if they thought that would help them to remember to mind better? Horrified Snowflake said, "No Mommy! That's horrible. We don't hit people, especially when we are mad. We think you are the best mommy because you don't yell at us anymore. You are an Orange Rhino now and you never spank us. That's why we love you so much." When I told her that was how Mommy and Daddy were both raised she got very sad, put her hand up to my cheek, and as if it were the saddest thing in the world she said, "Oh I am so sorry that happened to you Mommy."
That moment reaffirmed my belief that I am doing the best I can with my specific children. I do not judge others for their choices in parenting, especially those parents who came before us and who hailed from a different culture in a different time. In turn though, I expect not to be judged for mine. My kids are kind, caring, well-meaning and polite (most of the time). They are ahead academically and have healthy friendships and an almost remarkable grasp on their spiritual compasses. As benchmarks for success go, they are doing ok. They are also human and prone to lapses in judgment. They make mistakes and have to pay for them in real-world style consequences. Maybe I am making the wrong choices, maybe not. But, the only people who have cause to judge that are me, The Husband, and my children.
So, in honor of Mother's Day, if you have the chance, please do not judge a Mom just because of One Bad Day.