Being a parent sucks sometimes. It sucks because of the judgements. And before anyone even considers saying “I don’t judge other parents” let me just stop you right there. Stop lying. You judge everyone. We all do, it’s human nature. The differences lie in how we do it, and how we respond to it. I am working on accepting that my way of parenting will not suit a friend, or an acquaintance or even a family member. I have learned the hard way not to post snark about other moms no matter what I may be thinking, and I try to remember that we are our own harshest critics, we don’t judgment raining down on us from every other mother in the world.
I spend a huge chunk of my life judging myself, and finding myself lacking as a mother. Before the holidays I was clearing out our sideboard in the dining room and I came across a folder of papers from when Poppy was in the first grade. I had never seen them before. I couldn’t even recall looking at this folder before it got shoved on a shelf out of the way. I sat and cried. How had I become this forgetful mother, who misses things? How did I become this mother who lets the school stuff take care of itself instead of being involved at every step?
Sometimes just looking at my Facebook feed is exhausting. I see all the wonderful photos of families doing family things, of day trips, family dinners, school plays, family traditions, extracurricular activities and all kinds of other things we are told we should be doing with our children. I start judging myself and the more I judge myself the harsher the criticisms became.
I judged myself for
- Not restarting swimming
- Quitting Daisies
- Not signing Poppy up for drama even though she asked
- Not signing Poppy up for STEM – even though she didn’t ask
- Flaking out on her Chinese lessons
- Buying her Hatchimal for her birthday
- Buying her a stuffy from Build-A-Bear
- Having fun with the damn Elf
- Not thrifting
- For my house, not being completely immaculate all of the time
- For not forcing Poppy to eat whatever is put in front of her
- For struggling to pay the bills from time to time
- For not ironing her school uniform this morning so she looked all rumpled
- For letting her watch TV with commercials
- For my car being beat up and scruffy
- Not being able to remember our last family daytrip
- For never taking Poppy to Storyland
- For never going to Great Wolf Lodge
Then I realized that this doesn’t matter.
- Swimming will be there when we decide to go back
- She didn’t really like Daisies
- She will go to drama after Christmas
- She didn’t want to do STEM this year
- I will message Yen about her Chinese lessons
- So what she got a Hatchimal? – It brought her great joy during a horrific week
- Build-A-Bear is part of life
- The elf is fun – and more importantly Poppy likes it.
- So I don’t thrift it’s not a big deal. I donate toys, books and clothes year round.
- I work full time, I can’t keep my house like something out of a magazine, it is a home not a museum
- I was picky. I survived. Poppy will survive.
- We pay the bills. We have no debts beyond the mortgage.
- She was rumpled this morning, it’s not the end of the world
- Her brain is not going to rot due to commercials, I am not a bad mother because she sees them
- So what if my car is scruffy? I own it free and clear.
- We have years of family trips ahead of us
- Poppy doesn’t know what Storyland is, nor does she know what Great Wolf Lodge is – she will survive.
So judge away. I am going to try not to care. My child wants for nothing, she is adored, she is cherished, she is loved and yes, she is spoiled. But, and this is key, she is smart, she is funny, she is compassionate, she is a faithful and loyal friend who is unfailingly kind to everyone and everything.
As a family we have been through 2 pretty brutal years, but we are alive, and we are together and I hope that we are stronger than ever. We have made mistakes, we are learning from them, and we are growing. There is a new year rapidly approaching and I hope that this year will be a turning point for us, a new start with renewed energy and health and happiness.