I got the look. You other parents will know what I mean. The bad parent look. The why-weren't-you-watching-your-child-more-closely-and-see-now-look-he-got-hurt-look.
That is indeed what happened. We were at the food court, stuffing ourselves with inappropriate-and-unhealthy-for-children-fast-food, when Oliver, who was, unbeknownst to us, dangling perilously on top of a food court table, took a header into the floor. And as L. ran to scoop him up and assess the damage, this woman with her own child at another table caught my eye and gave me the look. I felt suitably yucky and bad-parent-y. You know the feeling.
We parents are a judge-y bunch. Especially us moms. I've always liked to think that I'm not one of those moms who sniffs "I can't believe she.... (fill in appropriate blank)." But I totally am. There, I said it. I'm judge-y.
I caught myself doing it just last night. L. and I went to the Public Health Office after the food court incident, to get Oliver's immunizations (another dicey topic - one for yet another blog). And I felt myself tensing up watching this other mom let her wee one march all over the Public Health Clinic floor in bare feet. And then I heard myself turning to L. and hissing "I can't believe she's letting her kid walk all over this germy floor in his bare feet." Oye. L. (very gently) called me out for it and I felt appropriately guilty. I have not, as they say, walked a mile in her shoes (or lack thereof).
It seems that, given my earlier rant about the lack of respect afforded to parenting work, and mothering in particular, that the tendency of parents, and again mothers in particular, to beat up on the parenting choices of other mothers is, counter-productive. At best.
So - I've decided to let it all hang out. In the spirit of living and let live, I'm going to air my dirty laundry. I'm going to confess (some of) my imperfections as a parent, and then I'm going to toast them.
Deep breathe. Here goes:
1. Oliver uttered his first F-Bomb when he was 20 months old. He totally learned it from me.
2. My house usually looks like a bio-hazard site.
3. I let Oliver play and occasionally eat off of the dirty floors in said house.
4. My thirty second rule is more like a thirty minute rule.
5. I let Oliver (and now Lucy if she's awake) watch too much television in order to get a workout or quiet coffee time in.
6. Lucy is lying on the guestbed beside me right now, gurgling all cute-like, and all I want to do is have some me time with my blog.
7. I try to feed the family organic healthy food and usually just run out of time and energy. PB &J rules this house (and it's the kind of peanut butter with saturated fats and sugar. Oh yes it is).
8. I wanted to be all cloth diaper-y and did for awhile but I've totally let it fall by the wayside.
9. I drink too much caffeine, even though I know it gives Lucy gas.
10. I yell too much at the end of the week (and sometimes at the beginning and middle too.)
11. I've let Oliver play for way too long in a dirty diaper just to avoid the diaper change tantrum. And then he got a really bad diaper rash.
12. It's within the realm of possibility that my son will be in kindergarten before he's potty trained.
13. I've been known to barter juiceboxes for good behaviour.
14. I totally tune Oliver out and pretend I'm listening sometimes. He talks a lot.
15. I am apparently oblivious to my son dangling perilously atop of food court tables.
This list, I think, could go on for pages, and I'd bet the farm that yours could too. We parents are an imperfect lot.
So if there's any other parents reading this today - I encourage you to find another parent or two and confess. Air your dirty parenting laundry (you know you have some) in the face of judgement. Maybe if we all did a little more looking at our own dirty little parenting secrets, we'd go a little easier on the parents we see around in the playground, at the food court or the Public Health Office.
Because they're slogging it out, 24/7, just like us.