Before I had children, I knew it all. Boy, I had it all figured out, and I was going to be a great Mom! Fortunately, I kept opinions about other people’s parenting to myself, unlike some people.
Anyhoo, I got a wake up call real quick, especially when I had a child who was exactly the opposite of what I imagined. I also came to the shocking realization that our parents were just as clueless as we were, and figured things out as they went along too! Unfortunately, there are a lot of women who are moms, and think they’ve got it all figured out. They often won’t hesitate to say (either to you, or behind your back) that what you’re doing is wrong.
I find that the more seasoned I get as a mother, the more tolerant and less judgmental I become. I remember seeing kids throwing fits in the store and wondering to myself what was wrong with the kid/parent. Now, I know that all situations, kids and parents are different. Sometimes ignoring works well, other kids need a “time out” or to leave the store. Maybe the parent just really wants to hurry up and get their milk and get the heck out of there! I make it a point, if possible, to make eye contact with the parent and smile, passing a silent “I’ve been there, hope the rest of your day is better” to them. I’m also aware now that the child may have autism or some sensitivity that makes the store unbearable to them. A friend recently told me a joke from a movie: “Remember, when your kid is being a brat, they’re tired. When someone else’s kid is being a brat, they’re a bad parent.” Ha!
When my first child was a baby, we were talking a walk around the neighborhood. Two moms were in a yard chatting, while a child said “mom mom mom MOM mom MOM mom MOM!” I remember thinking oh my goodness, just answer the kid already. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. Ooohhh excuse me. *wipes tears from eyes.* Now I know that this was probably the 10,000th time the kid had done that today, and probably just wanted to say that his foot was itchy. I used to think that I would always listen to and acknowledge everything my kids said! Please don’t take this the wrong way. I definitely want to respect my children and build them up, but there comes a point when you just can’t even process all the stuff when you have two extremely chatty children and your only “break” is folding laundry in the next room, or a 5 minute shower 3 times a week. I have done my fair share of “uh huh” ing, and I don’t always realize they are speaking to me when they are playing loudly and then decide to ask me something. I’ve gotten really good at tuning out annoying TV shows, songs and noisy toys. Hey, no one is screaming or crying, so while something may drive my husband batty, I don’t even hear it!
I didn’t understand why Moms looked forward to back to school time, and it seemed kind of mean that they felt that way. Now I get it. I have always loved school supplies and office supply stores. Now I really love them. I love my children dearly, but they are driving me batty this summer. “I’m bored”s and the in/out/in/out/in/out and I want this and ridiculous messes and tattling and refusals to clean up…having a newborn and a 2.5 year old home during the day was way easier than having my 7 year old home! My son’s behavior has gone downhill quick with his sister home all day. I thought the 3 year old was supposed to drive the 7 year old crazy, not the other way around!
On the same token, I never really understood the idea of a stay-at-home-mom having help cleaning, or having a babysitter during the day. I get it. And I’m jealous, LOL. Particularly since I’ve had 3 babies that wouldn’t nap unless I held them. When I hear about kids napping, like, in their cribs, for two hours once or twice a day, I am more green with envy than if they had a zillion carat diamond ring. I also completely understand a working mom getting out of work a few hours early, and going grocery shopping or doing something for herself before picking the kids up!
I know there are Moms out there who, unlike me, are perfect, adore their children 24 hours a day, whose kids always listen, who never raise their voices and feel no need to sleep or shower alone occasionally, have adult conversation, or complete a thought without interruption. (please note my tongue-in-cheek!) I, however, totally understand a mother who may not financially have to work, but chooses to anyway.
I also think it’s appropriate to put yourself and/or your marriage first sometimes. My husband and I don’t go on dates, and I rarely (if ever) do anything for myself. I don’t wear that proudly like a martyr badge, I think it’s sad and I want to change it. I understand people ending 25-year marriages when their kids grow up, and they realize they don’t know or like each other any more, after neglecting their marriage. Not a judgement, just a realization. I try to tell myself that if I, or my husband and I, go out for a few hours once a month, our kids won’t suffer! If anything, they will benefit.
To be honest, I try so hard to do everything “right” but I have hesitated to even write this post, for fear of looking like a bad mom who doesn’t love her children enough! Then again, I am setting an example for my daughter (and sons) of what a mother/marriage should be. (Elaborating on that thought is a whole ‘nother post!)
In the end, I think I have come to believe the old “diff’rent strokes for diff’rent folks” motto. Just because it’s not the choice I’d make, doesn’t make it wrong! Also, spending 2 hours cackling at 19 pages of HaHas for HooHas helps me know I’m not alone in this crazy, slightly imperfect motherhood gig!
Great post. I think that a lot of moms put way too much pressure on themselves to be perfect or fit into society’s ideals of a parent, when the truth of the matter is we’re all just trying to make it through. There is no denying that parenting is a joy, but it does require some self sacrifice. I just try to never to forget who I am as a person and that the other aspects of who I am require upkeep too.
Oh I have a post like this in my head …. and have for probably 2 years now! LOL – I’m afraid to write it but thanks for saying what needs to be said – we ALL feel like this!!
Motherhood can be great in the big picture, but there’s all this nitty gritty stuff that just wears you down too! I also don’t even understand HOW people can AFFORD to have all these ‘date nights’ with their husbands – I can’t even afford the babysitter, let alone dinner and a movie! 🙂 But maybe someday things will change! 🙂
Great post and I enjoyed reading it – made me feel less alone!
Same here! I thought “What?! She doesn’t have a job and hires a babysitter? She has a cleaning lady?” I would love to have both of those! We can’t afford either, but if we could we would definitely take any extra help or a break from kids 🙂 In general though we’re the type that take kids everywhere with us and rarely leave them with anyone but grandma. Grandparents have been the saving grace!
As a mother of now, 3 children too, I was the same way. I babysat kids starting when I was 12 years old. I had newborns, toddlers, and children up to age 10 in my care. I always made sure the door was locked and that I knew where the phone was in case I needed to call 911. I never had much of an issue with other people’s kids. I also gave advice, that sometimes actually worked, to parents before I was a parent myself. Now I have my 3 year old daughter figured out. But my almost 5 year old son has sensory integration disorder and anger issues. He started what they call here, as a Kindergarten Transition class. He needs the extra help and extra time in school. Well, now he’s in school from 7:15am until 2pm. I like the break for blogging and spending time with my 3 year old and 5 week old girls, but I do miss him. I found myself asking my daughter not to kick the table thing in my OB’s office today, and I was calling her Matthew. But yes, now I get why it’s nice to not have to entertain him 5 days a week. I only have to keep him busy and come up with things to do to keep him out of trouble on the weekends!
I used to joke before I had kids that I wanted to write the “Parenting from Non-Parents” book. All the things that I thought parents forgot about when they had kids. All the things that you said you never would do and are doing all the time.
I never wrote it. And now as a parent, I can’t even remember half of the stuff I would have put in it because my perspective has obviously taken a 180-turn. 😉
I was just thinking about this the other day!
And, I think you are the second perfect parent when you only have one kid….until you get to those stages you think you have the idea of just what you want, and realize, ha, I know nothing.