I’m the first one to admit when I have made a mistake (usually). And I make more than my fair share of mistakes for sure. I’m not a perfect parent, by society’s standards, not by far. I am, however, the perfect mother for my children. Which leads me to the topic of this blog post.
Let me tell you a story about an average Mom, on an average day, taking her two Kids for rounds of errands and a birthday lunch with dad. Mom rushes around in the morning because she’s running late as usual. She’s decided to sleep in since kid #1 doesn’t have to go to school with it being Martin Luther King day and all. So she stays in bed, cuddling with her #2. So already Mom is barking orders like a drill sergeant trying to get the kids moving. Eventually Mom and Kids make it out the door and things are going splendid. She might be a few minutes late, but not more than that. She considers it a win.
Mom and Kids have a nice lunch with Dad at a certain noodle place, Mom gives Dad his Birthday Cookies to take in to share with his friends at work, and the day is great so far. Though mom is starting to feel a little queasy after lunch, it’s nothing she can’t handle. So after making a phone call to transfer Kid 1’s prescription to the (we will just refer to it as) Smarget Pharmacy on the opposite side of town than she typically goes. No problem. Yay!
Mom and Kids run into Smarget because it’s -30 degree windchill. Though her kids are dressed appropriately, she is not really. Never is. But all of us moms know how that goes.
First, Mom and Kids hit the Wii Games because Kid #1 was brave and asked Mom for his allowance. Kid #1 chooses his game when Mom feels an awful pain in her guts. “uh oh.”
“Kids, we have to go to the potty right now. We’ll come right back as soon as we’re done…”
So Mom and Kids rush to the bathroom just in time. Turns out that Mom apparently can’t eat at Noodles anymore because every time she does, she ends up with diarrhea. So Mom and Kids clean up, get the game, chase Kid #2 who has made a break for it while Mom was giving Kid #1 the extra $2 he needed for his game. Finally things seem settled, Mom picks up party invitations, some fun junk in the $1 section for the kids, all seems right with the world. Mom and Kids head to grocery. Where things are still OK, except kid #2 keeps escaping from the “kids kart” that Smarget provides but fails to look at the seat belts that never work. Finally, Mom and Kids check out at a line where the Smarget employee is more concerned with her conversation with her coworker than with the business of checking out. But that’s OK, she doesn’t have much, it’s fine, breathe…she get’s through it.
As they’re checking out, Mom feels that feeling again, and again “We gotta run to the bathroom” where they go and Mom again relives that nasty experience, except this time, it was in the public restroom, not the family restroom where Kids can be contained. So while Mom is taking care of business, Kid #2 escapes out the stall door which is now hanging wide open, and Kid #1 is trying fruitlessly to close his own door. While this is happening, Mom notices Kid #1’s nice winter coat on the bathroom floor and Kid #2 is now at pre-meltdown stage 3 and is rolling around like a hungry alligator on the disgusting bathroom floor. Mom takes a deep breath (but not too deep before spraying room spray) and calms herself by saying “I’m in no hurry, it’s OK…we’re almost done…” So mom does her business and guess what? Yes, she’s started her period. She has the necessities, in the cart, outside the bathroom. She also realizes, as everyone is washing hands, and as she has to help Kid #2 finish rinsing her hands, that she has forgotten Kid #2’s lotion for her skin condition. So Mom packs Kids back up and heads to the lotion aisle. Kid #2 is now at meltdown stage 2. The whimpering, squirming, “I’m Hot!” stage. Mom tries to plead with Kid #2 that “we’re almost done, we’ll be done in no time, please just leave your coat on for a few more minutes” because Mom knows exactly what will transpire if Kid #2 succeeds in removing her coat. Mom grabs the lotion, and books it to the Smarget Express lane. Which, wasn’t so express. But Mom is in line, hoping that she doesn’t again have to run to the restroom, trying to convince kid #2 that she can keep her coat on for just a little longer, and now is feeling crampy, hot, and hormonal from her period. Perhaps all in her head, but at this point, her patience is limited. So I said Mom was in the express lane. The nice lady ahead of Mom said “please, go ahead of me. I’ve been there, I have four myself.” Mom smiled and said “no no, we’ll be OK…but thank you that was very nice.” at which time, Kid #2 began Meltdown stage 1. Complete with tears, thrashing, crying, screaming, and several frustrated attempts to remove her coat. Mom is losing patience quickly. Nice lady says, “Really please, I understand. I have all day, and I’m not in a hurry to get anywhere.” Mom says “thank you” and moves ahead.
Remember. Express Lane. Mom notices that the people who were checking out had been there for quite some time. And their bill came to over $100. OK whatever. Maybe they make a big purchase. Then Mom notices that Woman in Beret (who is companion of Man in Wheelchair with broken leg – This information will be very important in a little bit) is paying with several $1 bills. The Express Smarget checker counts the bills diligently. Very diligently. Twice. They’re $.86 short. Beret woman looks to Broken Leg man and asks for $1. So then the very diligent Smarget checker counts the bills AGAIN. Mom, at this point, is furious, exasperated, hot, trying to contain a very unhappy and hot and exhausted almost 3 year old as well as her patience, and is not doing a very good job. Finally the Very Diligent Smarget Checker is happy with the amount of one dollar bills given to her and begins to put them in her drawer. But not before turning them all the same way.
Mom loses her patience. She takes the cart, brushes past The Very Diligent Smarget Checker, Beret Woman, and Broken Leg Man
and says “OH FOR FUCKS SAKES I CAN GET FASTER SERVICE AT TARBUTTS!!” (name changed from the very popular coffee establishment housed inside of Smarget stores)
As Mom is walking away, she hears “HEY!” she turns around and Beret Woman and Broken Leg Man (who are all of 24) chastise Mom for speaking that way in front of her children. Mom is angry and hot and frustrated and has an unhappy, tired, hot 3 year old in her arms and a very patient 7 year old in the cart who thinks this guy is crazy. Mom turns around, thinks about saying a whole host of things that will probably ban her from Smarget for life, but instead says “oh bite me.” Not the snappiest of comebacks but hey. Finally Mom goes to Tarbutts, where indeed there was NOT faster service, so she tries Customer Service. As she’s passing by the very slow Beret Woman and Broken Leg Man, Broken Leg Man again decides to give Mom a little advice “You really should watch how to talk around your kids.” What Mom should have said is “Who says these are my kids!?” But instead, she said “I am pretty sure I don’t need to take parenting advice from you.” to which Broken Leg man replied “Apparently you DO since you’re saying the F word around a 3 year old!” Mom says “Do YOU have kids?” To which Broken leg man stumbles and says “I have Severa….I have one and a nephew…” Mom looks at him, smiles, and says “sure you do.” and
walks huffs away, at this point questioning her parenting skills silently to herself.
So there you have it. My long day at Smarget East today with my two kids. The reason I am telling you all this horrid story is b
ecause there are a lot of things I would have liked to have said to that young couple. Starting with, they have no right to judge me as a parent because I said one bad word. Granted, I can appreciate that they were concerned for the welfare of my children, and though I appreciate that, my children were in no danger. As far as I could tell, neither of them had blood spewing out of their ears from hearing their mother say the word FUCK. Of course, they’re pretty immune to it now. Seeing that this very young couple were at the store together, without a child, and giving me dirty looks as my daughter cried and whooped and thrashed in line, and when I became exasperated because they gave the express checker 50 one dollar bills… sorry, 51, one dollar bills, and thought NOTHING of it, led me to think that perhaps they really *didn’t* have any parenting experience whatsoever. Having nephews most certainly does not count.
So what would I tell these people who judged me so quickly and thought it their right to tell me what I should and shouldn’t say
because it was “in front of my kids?” Well, for starters, I might tell them that when my son was born, even though I had been in transition and labor for 36 hours before giving birth, I sent my son off to the nursery only to call them crying to bring him back in. That I simply could not bear to be away from him for a minute. Or maybe that I spent 9 1/2 weeks painfully pumping breastmilk so that my son could have the best chance at being healthy before he finally latched on to the breast and continued to successfully breast feed for 24 months. Or that I wrote a blog about his life for the first 3 years. I would tell them that when my daughter was born, she was born with ptosis, missing a toe, and a heart murmur. That she might have been deaf. And that I weeped for days. Not because my baby wasn’t perfect, but because she was perfect, and no one else could see that but me. And that at 2 weeks old, she aspirated on phlegm, and I didn’t leave her side for the next 24 hours even though the doctor at the ER said she would be fine but to watch her. Not to mention the endless nights of insomnia, sickness, sadness, bad dreams. That until this year, I had one pair of jeans and don’t buy clothes for myself unless they are on clearance. And that I make bread and yogurt for my family because they love it. And we share a family bed because I can’t bear for my children to be alone at night. That every single decision my husband and I make, ALWAYS takes into account how it will affect the kids. That I didn’t make fun of or begrudge my son because he stubbed his toe and thought he needed to walk around with a cane for two days. That I have given up my house, not just my livingroom, to my kids so they can have a place filled with happiness and comfort of “their stuff.” That every night, one of us rocks our daughter to bed while the other reads a book to our son. That we went to great lengths to allow our son to have ducks, which he desperately wanted. What I want them to know is how I wept last night because when my daughter got something in her eye, I could no longer “just put breastmilk in it” because she had actively weaned herself a few months ago, and I have no more milk to give. I want them to know how that breaks my heart.
We all have bad days. We all do things we shouldn’t. Should I say the “f word” around my kids? No. Probably not. Was that a bad choice? Yes. But that was MY bad choice. I am not a ruthless teenager flitting my life away saying stupid things. I don’t need parenting advice from anyone. And if I do, I will ask for it. From other parents. Not aunts and uncles
So please, though I know sometimes it’s difficult, please try to refrain from judging that mom who is carrying her 2 year old like a football. Refrain from giving unwanted feedback to parents who lose it, unless of course a child or another is in danger. Chances are if you think that Mom is doing something that is unacceptable, so already knows it. Moms have more guilt in their little finger than anyone else has in their whole right leg. If you see a Mom having a bad day, give her a smile. Pat her shoulder. Tell her you understand even if you don’t. You might just change her day. After all, none of us are perfect, therefore those who live in glass houses should not throw stones.