Parenting without Judgment

 

“Get back in your f@#$ing carseat!”
This was the loud command I heard from the car in front of me….while sitting in the fast food drive thru. It was years ago, but I had my oldest son with me. He was old enough to have heard the word and understand how to use it in a sentence, but young enough that I felt some need to use this as a teachable moment. After a slight awkward pause I turned to him and said…

“Hmm…I’ve never heard of that name brand before…do they make cribs too?”

We laughed and then went home and shoved greasy fast food in our mouths (entertain judgment here).
Fast forward a bit. I am the mother of 4 now. My youngest is the only one that I have ever had to remind to stay in her car seat. When they are younger, you have straight-jacket like buckles…but the mother of a strong-willed child understand the Houdini-like routine. You look in your mirror and notice they have broke free. You pull over. You redo the seat. You drive. It’s this nauseating cycle.

“Just firmly tell them to stay in their carseats. Don’t drive until they do.”

I’m sure the mom who yelled, “Get back in your f@#$ing carseat” once heeded to those naïve words too.
I judged the mom back then. I understand her now. Though I’ve never told my daughter to get back into her F@#$ing carseat…I have thought it…oh boy have I thought it.

“I saw a mother walk into the gas station and use her Link to buy cigarettes for herself and then chips and pop for her kids. She told her kid, “I only have a dollar!”

Somebody recently told me this. Their tongue heavily laden in conservative goo.
I rebuked the judgment. Well…yes…this seems like really sh#tty parenting, but we are not on welfare…at the moment. I suppose if I was on welfare and I smoked and my children really wanted chips and pop and my mommy guilt trumped my nutritional value sensibility, I could end up being that mother. Short-term rewards without long-term concerns. Is it really that much worse than a middle class parent who loads up on chips and pop and cigarettes on a credit card she will later end up filing bankruptcy on? Hmm…

I’ve judged parents and they’ve judged me. I’ve heard daycare providers say things like this:

“ I don’t understand these parents. Dressed to their nines while there kids look like they just rolled out of bed”

I smile and nod. I know how it looks when I take my bedhead daughter out of the house. It looks like I don’t care. I am dressed to the nines because I have to go to work and do not throw a fit when I pull a brush through my hair…well…usually. I put on the outfit that I pick for myself and I know the importance of putting my shoes on the right feet because it’s more comfortable. I have parented long enough to understand that while it would be wonderful to not have power struggles and have control over everybody it’s not worth the stress. So…whatever…judge me. I have seen many bedhead kids grow up to be valedictorians of their middle school class and they eventually do care about their outer appearances.

“They don’t spend time with their children. They pick them up from daycare, put them in front of the T.V., give them dinner and a bath, and put them to bed.”

Another judgment. I’ve been both a stay at home parent and a working parent. I understand the importance of bonding with your child in infancy and early childhood. I know that some people are more equipped than others to spend the entire day with their children. Money aside….some people are just not naturally made of the stuff that it takes to be with young children 24/7. It doesn’t warrant a ‘Well then why did they even have them?’ comment.

I love raising kids, but there is definitely this sort of relief in reaching different parenting milestones. I see parents of newborns and I smile because in some sort of way I know I am a little jealous of their newness. They will wonder in their child and obsess about breast feeding, while I know that years and years later what does or does not come out of your boobs is the least of your worries…maybe…if things are still coming out of your boobs years later you might need to get that checked.

The funny thing about writing while parenting is that I invite a double whammy. Ooh…let’s judge the mommy who blogs about how she mommies and how she blogs. I’ve got your number…and I’m not adding to it. More understanding and less judgment. It’s a work in progress worth making.

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