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I was born to one of the nicest women on the planet. The kind of woman who, if you mention you’re feeling a bit peckish, will joyfully hop off her seat on the couch and make you a grilled cheese sandwich and a milkshake, without you even needing to ask. Even though it’s midnight. And she just concluded the world’s most extensive yawn.
Despite my aspirations to be even a fraction as willingly generous as my mother, I still harbor these pesky ungracious thoughts. Since having children, it seems the judgmental musings are the ones that end up biting my not-as-pert-as-it-used-to-be a**. It’s as though for each unkind, no matter how insignificant, opinion that buzzes in my brain like an incoming text message, I later get my come-uppance. Or my “mom-uppance”, if you will.
Here are some examples:
Supercilious Thought #1: I can’t believe [insert name here] isn’t breastfeeding her baby. No matter how challenging, I am going to breastfeed my babies for at least six-months.
Mom-Uppance: My boobs are broken. I don’t know how else to say it. And before you start throwing around terms like “Motillium” and “fenugreek” and “ hospital grade breast-pump” I can assure you I have tried everything. Both of my kids were bottle-fed and neither one of them is a sociopath, so just calm down–before you get your own mom-uppance on this one.
Supercilious Thought #2: Does that kid eat anything? If there’s one thing I’m making sure of as a mom, it’s that I’m not going to raise a picky eater!
Mom-Uppance: I have a nephew who subsisted on butter sandwiches (yes, they are exactly what they sound like) and Pediasure for a very long time. By introducing a myriad of flavors and textures to my children’s impressionable palates early, I was sure I was going to sidestep that won’t-eat-anything trap. When my son was 18-months, he would snack on hummus and smoked Gouda and blackberries, and with each healthy choice I would pat myself on the back. Fast forward a year and a half…my son is now three and wants to eat macaroni & cheese for every damned meal. He won’t touch 95% of the foods he once voraciously ingested. For a while I blamed myself, as that shift happened around the time I was pregnant with my daughter. Daily vomiting meant, not only was I not interested in eating, but the mere idea of preparing meals left me with my head hanging over the toilet. It was like being a college student all over again! But without the midterms and frat boys!
I now have a 17-month baby who refuses almost everything. Do I stress out about it? Okay, yes, of course I do. I also keep offering her a variety of food that she will put in to her mouth before immediately spitting it back out again, and as she does so I am praying to the Gods of Quinoa and Lychee that both my children will become more adventurous eaters as they grow. Nowadays, when I see other kids with finicky appetites, I tell both my mouth and my brain to shut up.
Supercilious Thought #3: Did you see the way that [insert guardian here] just tore a strip off that kid in [insert name of place here]? I would never lose my temper like that with my kids—especially in a public place!
Mom-Uppance: Ahahahahahaaaa! Sorry—I truly hope you’re laughing with me here.
Not too long ago, a girl I haven’t seen since the original Beverly Hills, 90210 was on the air posted an article about how you’re supposed to discipline toddlers. Basically, it called for no discipline and stated that you should always speak to your toddler in the same calm manner you would use to speak to the CEO of a company. Well…leaving the toddler/CEO comparison aside—there’s just too much absurdity there for me to deal with—let’s talk about limits. Everyone has a limit. My limit was reached last weekend when, following two weeks of my children taking turns being sick, plus five full days of my baby crying at me (have you ever had someone cry at you? This is significantly different than having someone cry near you or even to you) all day everyday, in addition to three sleepless nights, on top of a period so evil I’m considering naming my uterus Beelzebub…my baby girl started crying at me again during our first outing in I-don’t-know-how-long. I tried to put her in the stroller to race home in hopes of avoiding a scene smack dab in the middle of the bustling food court, but she started thrashing and throwing herself backwards out of the stroller. In that moment, any shred of patience I may have been stowing away for a rainy day (I don’t mean that as a cliché—sitting in the house all day long with two little ones requires patience) vanished. I not-so-gracefully yanked my daughter out of the stroller, told her to, “stop it!” and, to borrow a phrase from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, hauled shell as fast as my furious legs would carry me out of the mall, my slightly stunned 3-year old in tow. Certainly in hindsight, I am ashamed of my behavior. I wish I hadn’t snapped—I truly wish I never snapped, especially in front of my kids—but, like everyone else in that mall, I’m fallible.
There is no such thing as the perfect parent, and I know when I’m comparing myself favorably to someone else who is not experiencing their best moment, I am doing so to relish the fleeting feeling of superiority. This is not a pretty color on me.
If I’m going to start cutting myself some slack on my futile journey towards flawless parenting, it’s time I begin easing up on my fellow mad-eyed journeyers too. So, let’s make a pact: I won’t raise my eyebrows when I see you storming out of the grocery store carrying your toddler under your arm like a football, if you don’t roll your eyes when my kid has a meltdown in the checkout line over a package of Smarties. Instead of silently judging each other, let’s mentally high-five one another for getting through another day with these unpredictable and adorable creatures, who somehow manage to simultaneously make our lives more difficult and more enchanting.
Contributed By Annette Christie