There have been very few times during my stint as a parent where I’ve experienced judgement from another mother. Ok besides the time I accidentally forgot to pick up one of my kids from school thinking he was already at home. The look on this mother’s face, as memory struck, was of pure and utter scorn – like I didn’t deserve to have children. I should probably have mentioned that I realised my mistake by the time I got to the school gate when my 3 year-old reminded me we were a kid short. There were no calls from the school or traumatised children and I’m pretty sure my son will live to tell the tale.
But what’s up with people who don’t even have kids passing judgement on something they diddly squat about?? Whats up with women who feel it’s appropriate to say horrible things, things that make you feel like even more of a failure as a mother?
As usual, I better back up a bit here.
Yesterday, like any other normal day I was chasing after my kids as they ran in and of the house – You know? Taking them snacks, breaking up fights, telling them not to go too far, ordering them to play nicely together, running after them with pants (the one may have been half naked) and half eaten sandwiches and rubbing tears from overtired eyes. I was in the middle of a normal chaotic late afternoon with my kids when we were greeted by one of our young neighbours arriving home at the bottom of our stairs (she lives above us). I gave out a bit of a tired sigh, rolling my eyes with a glazed smile on my face (in a way any mom would to signal they are about to lose their shit but trying ever so hard to stay calm), expecting a bit of sympathetic laugh.
But all I got was “Wow you really make motherhood look so stressful and so hard! It’s enough to put me off kids!” Yup she basically, in one condescending little chirp told me I sucked at being a mother and was doing a pretty rotten job.
Come to think of it, I don’t even think I expected sympathy – I mean why would I want sympathy for being a mom to these gorgeous and rowdy little hooligans? Maybe I just wanted her to say “Wow you look like you are have a bit of challenging time, are you ok?” Maybe I just wanted some understanding, a nod of encouragement, a “Hell you look like you’ve got your hands full but flip they are stinking cute!”
My only comeback was that she obviously always caught me at a bad time. To which came her second comment “Yes you right, sometimes you sit there on the grass watching them while you drink wine.” Dear Lord, is that what she thinks of me? Does this women even know me at all?
Because if she did, she would know that I spend hours enjoying my children everyday! Painting and doing crafts, taking them to the park and to the aquarium, sitting on their bedroom floors doing puzzles and playing with Lego, reading them stories every evening and singing them to sleep every night. She would know we laugh a LOT and have incredible times together. She would know that although our house may not be the most peaceful or perfectly balanced with two small boys living in it, it’s a happy home filled with joy so much contentment. More than that she would see that motherhood is hard and that it can be challenging, but it’s also insanely rewarding and enjoyable. She would surely know my children are my greatest source of joy. She would know that despite the crazy, I wouldn’t change it for the world.
I forgive her for not knowing these things, but surely she knows that the thing every mother REALLY wants to hear is the complete opposite of what she expressed so blatantly – that we make motherhood seem so effortless and easy! Surely she knows that no parent enjoys feeling judged? And although that is hardly ever the case and I think we all put far to much pressure on ourselves to hold everything together so perfectly, did she need to make it so obvious to me by pointing it out?
I was too busy trying to get pants back on my kid and trying to negotiate the several bikes and scooters in our doorway that I allowed her to walk away without telling her what I really wanted her to know. That she had it all wrong.
My initial response after thinking it through was this:
When your neighbor with no kids tells you you make motherhood seem stressful and horrible. Funny, she makes being a bitch seem so easy!
— Leigh Geary (@mom_diaries) October 18, 2016
But after some real pondering, I think I know what my response should have been. Because even though she may have come across like a judgmental bitch, I think she was just being a little naive and insensitive.
But If she ever dared to talk to me like that again and subtly undermine my role as a mother (IN FRONT OF MY KIDS!) I will remind her that her time is coming. I will remind her that she too will be a mother one day and that she may find herself in that very same situation. And when that day comes she will rely on the unspoken “No judgement” rule in Momville, especially when it comes other people’s kids.
She will soon find out how much a reassuring smile can mean and just how much weight a word of encouragement may carry. And although she thinks she may have all the answers now and look down at our afternoon marathons of chaos and madness from her high horse, I mean balcony, I will remind her that when her and her husband decide to procreate, I will be there with no judgement, because there’s already way too much of that in this world.
Until then, I can only hope that she sees me in the less stressful times, revelling in my role as a mother and prove her preconceptions wrong. Although who am I to say I wont be running out my house at five-o-clock this evening chasing after my 3 year-old with a steak knife in his hand? Or screaming at my 5 year-old because he let his hamster is out of its cage cage and fear he may be eaten by the cat? You see, I don’t know just how many more chaotic afternoons I will face, but I do know is that I’m a whole lot happier because of them. And if she ever wanted to join me for a chunk of the chaos, I will be there on the lawn. With my wine.