I have no bigger pet peeve in parenting than the Mommy Wars. Honestly, we’re running kids all over the place, diapering bums, cleaning up accidents, making lunches, feeding babies… do we not have better things to do than to worry about what every other mom is doing?
I guess that a lot of it has to do with our own insecurity. We want to know that we are doing the absolute BEST for our children. OUR children will grow up to be well-adjusted, well-nourished, safe, healthy adults. Those OTHER moms will be the ones whose kids grow up to be nerdy, or overweight, or God forbid, in jail or permanently disfigured because of a childhood accident. OUR kids will be Prime Minister or President. OUR kids will be doctors, lawyers, and business tycoons. THEIR kids will be the ones who work at McDonalds and live in their parents’ basement at the age of 40.
The truth is, though, that we’re all just doing the best that we can, in the best way we know how. Everyone’s situation is different, and every child is different. You can have one child who’s a perfect angel, speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese, never gets in trouble in school and always brushes their teeth without you nagging them for days, but your next child could have a learning disability, food allergies, talk back to their teacher or not sleep through the night until they’re twenty-six.
So, in that spirit, here’s my confession. When I only had one child, or even before I was a mom, here are some of my former judgements.
Your kid is three and doesn’t sleep through the night? Are you kidding me? Why on earth are you spoiling that kid so badly? Cut those apron strings why don’t you?
Yeah, that’s the way I thought until I spent hours listening to a baby, then a toddler, screaming in the middle of the night while I let him “cry it out.” Fun times. My first baby slept through the night all on her own at 8 weeks old, so I was convinced that there was nothing to this baby sleep thing. Co-sleeping? Wouldn’t DREAM of it! Then my second was up once a night until she turned one, but she too started sleeping through on her own.
Then I met Andrew. Sweetest little boy on the planet. World’s WORST sleeper. From the moment we brought him home from the hospital he would rarely sleep for more than an hour at a time. He slept in his *GASP* infant car seat for about a month because he would sleep longer in there. I tried sleep positioners, propping up the top of the cradle mattress on an incline… just about everything I could think of. I bought an Amazing Miracle Blanket and lo and behold, in about 3 days he was sleeping through the night. It truly was a miracle, and I recommend them to anyone whose baby is having sleep issues.
Then he grew too big for his “Baby Burrito” as we fondly called it. I realized with trepidation that we would have to give it up and hope for the best. He was up at least 2-3 times a night after that. As his teeth started to come in it could be back to every hour. I was on the verge of a breakdown. We decided by the time he was nine months old or so that we needed to try CIO. Except that he wore us down. He could scream and scream and scream for hours. We finally won, and he was back to sleeping through the night. For about a month. And then I was back to our late night bonding sessions.
Fast forward a few more months. He was now about 18 months old. I was beyond exhausted. We had to do it all over again. We got him down to about once a night after more nights of hours and hours and hours, and occasionally he would even sleep through the night. He is now three years old. Miraculously most nights he sleeps through now, but we still have those once in a while wake up calls in the middle of the night. I used to tell people that my 3 month old slept better than my 3 year old, and sadly, it’s mostly true.
Yelling at your kids in the middle of a store? Get control of yourself!
I think this one is true not only of people without kids, but also first-time moms. When your precious infant is sleeping soundly in their carseat while you placidly stroll through Wal-Mart you wonder how on earth any parent could possibly allow their child to have a temper tantrum in the middle of a store, and what terrible parent actually YELLS at their child in public?
This is, of course, not something that any mom aspires to. We want to appear calm, cool and collected in public, and truthfully we want that at home, too. However, when you have one kid who stops every five seconds because they’re mesmerized by some bright, shiny object on the shelf, and another who wants to ride in the cart, and then wants to walk, and then wants to ride in the cart and… and then you have one of your little angels pitching a fit because they want the DORA fruit snacks, not the Spiderman ones, you might just find yourself forgetting that there are other people staring at you. “Allyson Petunia, you are in SO much trouble! You think I’m embarrassed by this you are WRONG! I said no, and I MEANT no and if you don’t cut this out I’m going to (*insert idle threat here*)!”
The sad thing is, despite all of those other shoppers who now think your child is a demon spawn and you are an out-of-control mom who needs CAS called in, an hour later you and Allyson Petunia will likely be cuddled up in bed, talking about what happened and making up. Those judgemental eyes don’t get to see that.
What a dirty face on that kid! Can’t the mom just take TWO seconds with a washcloth? I would NEVER let my child be seen in public like that.
I certainly don’t aspire to have my kids leave the house with dirty faces, or unbrushed hair, or clothes with stains or rips. Ideally my children would look absolutely adorable every time we leave the house. I love hearing how cute my kids are. It makes my day. BUT, I also am very sleep-deprived and often sleep in the morning until the last possible second before I absolutely have to get up in order to get whichever kids are going to their various places to those various places. Or sometimes I have to get up in the middle of the night, or I go to bed too late. So sometimes we are so rushed that I don’t notice that Andrew has put on the pants with the holes (which I finally hid until I can get around to throwing them out now) or Charlotte has Toaster Strudel on her face. This morning, I admit, in the first week of October, Andrew went to nursery school wearing sandals. With socks. Black ones, at that. Oh well.
I’m sure there’s more. I may do a part two one of these days! But the fact is that we are all doing the best we can. Let it go! Besides, feel sorry for those moms – obviously their kids aren’t as perfect as ours are!
Feel free to comment with some confessions of your own!