A significant challenge associated with being a parent is guilt or as I often refer to…”Mommy Guilt”. I struggle with it daily. I feel guilty because I work 10-12 hours most days. I feel guilty because I travel for work and spend days away from my munchkin. I feel guilty because Dylan spends more waking hours with her daycare teacher than with me from Monday to Friday. I feel guilty because as much as it would be fun to write via this blog about the hours I spend in the kitchen preparing healthy and enticing meals for my child that I found on Pinterest, many days I am giving her one of the three things that she has decided she will eat for that month and that I can happen to prepare in 30 minutes or less. It’s a fact. As a Mom, I try to do the best I can for my kiddo and while I love her to the moon and back, some of the things I do in the run of a day will not likely land me a coveted Mother of the Year award.
But that’s just life. As parents, we all make compromises and do the best we can to look out for our kids. And for the majority of us, there is nothing we wouldn’t sacrifice or do to ensure our kids get what is best for them. But what is best for them? That’s a subjective matter isn’t it?
As Mommies (and Daddies), we take in all the facts we can about what is best for our kids from sources such as books, scientific studies and the good old Internet, then we mix in a little of “how we grew up doing things”, a splash of “what we are able to do” and top everything off with a pinch of physical and emotional stress and voila, we have a completely immeasurable body of knowledge that defines what is best for our kids. Then as parents, we engage with other parents and share our perspective.
Now what is funny is how we choose to share this perspective. Sometimes it can be a very positive experience and I find myself learning from the experiences of others. Then other times, I am amazed me at how judgmental we can all be towards one another. At playgroups or birthday parties, I hear things such as “You’re NOT breastfeeding” or “You STOPPED breastfeeding” or “You are STILL breastfeeding”. Maybe one kid is melting down and a few of the parents are rolling their eyes and acting as though their kid has never done that sort of thing (even though we all remember their kid completely losing it at the party a few months back).
Then there is my favorite topic, how we engage with our kids. I was at a party a few weeks back and a mother was referring to a toy her child was playing with. It was some kind of leap tablet thingy (technical term) and she explained that she got one for her kid and he was learning all his letters and numbers from it. I tuned in immediately thinking it might be something good for Dylan. Then immediately another Mommy piped up and said, “I don’t buy those things for my little poo-poo, I prefer to teach him those things myself rather than sticking him in front of a computer.” Immediately I was thrown off because a) I wanted to call Bullsh** on Poo Poo’s mother because no matter how good of a parent you are, there comes a time when we all need to rely on other sources for assistance in their learning & development and b) I couldn’t believe she was so rude to the other mom by essentially implying that she wasn’t being hands on enough in her child’s development. Of course the other Mommy just changed the topic and all was fine. But I see this sort of thing all the time. And likely due to my heightened sense of Mommy guilt, I always seem to pick up on it more than others because I know there are weak spots in my parenting CV and am therefore a little extra sensitive to judgment than I should be.
So what is it that causes us to so quickly judge others as parents? Do we forget about the struggles we had with our choices and decisions? Do we forget about all the things we did wrong as we were pushing our way through certain stages of parenting? Or are we overcompensating to deflect attention from the things we are unsure of ourselves?
In any event, I think we should all try and make a pact to accept that the majority of us are doing the best we can and look to commend and praise others as a means of acknowledging what they are doing right and giving them some motivation to keep up the good work. Despite what might feel sometimes, we are all doing the best we can with what we’ve got and more often than not, could benefit from a pat on the back or acknowledgement of doing something right. And who knows, maybe our kids will benefit from watching how their parents treat others.
Author’s Note: The name “Little Poo-poo” is not a real name and was used to protect the innocent. Of course if you have a kid named poo-poo, the child will likely face worst things that being referred to by me in this blog but I apologize all the same.