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Motherhood Mondays: Judgments and Humility

May 21, 2012

There has been a lot of judgment trolling around the internets these days concerning the ever-sensitive issue of motherhood. I’m sure everyone heard about, or at least saw the Time magazine cover of a nearly 4 year old breast-feeding, with the subtle title: Are you Mom Enough?

Last month it was the working mom v the stay at home mom. There were articles everywhere, moms up in arms . . . and then the realization that maybe these battles were simply being fabricated by the media who wants to the two factions to fight.

These manufactured mommy wars are predictable because they tend to provoke strong reactions from mothers who feel judged, as well as mothers who want to feel superior for their choices.

Honestly, I don’t know what it is, but I’m just tired of it. I’m tired of feeling like I have to defend my every action, that I have to hide the paci if Griffin actually has it out in public, that I have to defend/explain his speech delay, that I have to feel badly when he doesn’t eat dinner at 5pm with the rest of humanity and instead eats more in the 7-8:00 hour, that his bedtime is 10pm and not 7:30, that he sleeps in until almost 9am each morning . . . it goes on and on. Maybe I’m too sensitive though. Maybe it’s me.

But it’s more than that. It’s more than Griffin and his almost three-year-old quirks. It’s the judgment. It’s the judgment that is around each and every corner, leeching into our every day lives, which is influencing me to back up slowly from others and their views.

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I may not be making any sense. I may be talking in circles. I’m trying to say something, describe something that’s about more than just a silly picture or an argument – it’s bigger than that, but I’m getting lost in trying to make it bigger than that. So, here:

today in local childcare

A friend posted this the other day on FB and it prompted quite the discussion. From those with and those without children to those that believed in ‘leashes’ and those that didn’t. It stayed civil (to an extent) but something about the whole argument really set me off the wrong way; it made me want to retreat, to hide, to pull the covers over my head and pretend that if I were ever walking down a busy street and chose to have my child on a cute little monkey leash that I wouldn’t be judged, that people wouldn’t stare at me, that they wouldn’t then post photos of us on their personal pages and invoke arguments defending both ways. I wanted to hide. So, I did.

And then I had to think about why. Is it because I secretly want Griffin to be on a leash when we’re walking through the mall? No, I don’t own a leash, I never will. They aren’t for me. But, that doesn’t mean I’m going to look at someone else who chose to use one for their child’s SAFETY with judgment. (I have to liken it a bit to . .. abortion. While it’s not for me, I won’t do it . . . I would NEVER judge you for having one. I believe everyone has a choice.) Griffin runs. Everywhere. I keep up. Or, I let him run. People judge me. I know that. Generally speaking, I don’t care.

And then . . . I read this:

“If a kid doesn’t behave, it’s because the parent doesn’t provide a good example or lacks the time to be a stable example and guide.”

And I was officially done. I had to walk away. I had to honestly go and hide because it’s this kind of thinking that is self-destructive and harmful to parents of children with developmental disabilities, and when statements are made in such a general way, with no exceptions, blaming parents for behavior that is not only out of their control but of the control of the child themselves, I want to lose my mind.

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And so I come to the end of this pretty long-winded statement where I haven’t really made a point. Maybe I’m just venting. I am venting. There’s no maybe about it. My husband and I have been dealing with behavioral issues with our (his) 10 year old son for going on three years now. We’ve heard it all. We’ve had diagnoses, medications, therapies. We’ve been told to ‘spank his ass’ or ‘beat his ass till it bleeds’ (more aptly) and been told to ‘talk to him’ or ‘just give him what he wants’. We’ve lost relationships and almost a marriage. We’re on the verge of so much and so little at the same time. We’ve lost respect for a lot of people through this process but we’ve gained something. A few things, and hopefully more before the whole ordeal is done and over (Medicaid has a 13 year waiting list after all). And those are simple. We’ve learned humility. We’ve learned that every single person’s situation is different and there’s no room for judgment when you’re a parent because being a parent is hard enough, period.

So, think about that next time you decide to make a face when you see a ‘white trash’ mom screaming obscenities at her 7 year-old for hitting the kid next to him. At least she cares enough to scream . . .

{I’m closing comments on this because honestly, I can’t take any. Apologies.}

edit: It’s also not just about ‘filtering’ yourself from not airing those judgments out into the world . . . it’s about not having those judgments in the first place.

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