I want to share some thoughts on being a Mom. A Mom that makes mistakes. A Mom that isn't always the perfect parent. But most of all a Mom that DOES do some things right. A Mom that has pretty awesome kids. A Mom that knows best.
I think you've all been there. Mom's I mean. You've been judged, scolded, told what's right for your kids by someone else. Told that you're doing it wrong. It isn't a new concept: We all think we're smarter than the next person. Some of us choose to hold our judgements, others choose to share them. But what's frustrating is when the know-all to end-all comes from the mouths of non-parents who 'know what kind of parent I'll be", so it's really only fair they share their knowledge with you, the actual mother.
Because that's constructive criticism and shame on your for not accepting it gracefully!
My kids are awesome. I am sure I've shared that with you all numerous times. I reserve that judgement because they're mine of course, but truthfully no one would argue it. They are. I got pretty lucky. But their awesomeness isn't really relevant to my post. I just wanted to share it again, just because.
My first was born when I was 22. I was young, immature, and thought I knew it all. It took all of 5 minutes of motherhood to realize how wrong I really was. I was flustered uncoordinated, and dumb. Most new Mom's are. Being amazing isn't built into most of our genetic make-up. We learn as we go.
And boy did I learn. Everyone and their third cousin twice removed had advice for me. And constructive criticism came in like a waterfall. I deserved most of it. But the funny thing? Despite my missteps, my daughter turned into the most responsible, mature, amazing kid anyone could ask for. I did something right. What, I don't know. But I wouldn't change a thing.
My second came at 30. A surprise, but an amazing one at that. I've detailed some of our struggles here with his rare disorder, but the fact remains that he's pretty awesome too. His health is a challenge every day, but each and every minute he blooms into a pretty special little boy who only has eyes for his Mom. We have a handshake. It's pretty awesome.
Again, I'm doing something right.
But here's where my soap box story get's a little hard. And while I will do my best not to sound defensive, angry, or completely ridiculous, I make no promises. And perhaps that's because it's who I am as a person and I can't change that now.
I'm 33 years old (34 in a month!). I live at home with my two children and my estranged husband who suffered a massive stroke almost a year ago from having a brain tumour removed. His physical limitations are great. Every day is a new day, because I never really know what it holds for all of us. I bear every single responsibility of my family on my little shoulders, and sometimes, it's too much. Sometimes, I don't know if I'll make it to the next day. Sometimes, I fall. Sometimes, I cry. Sometimes, I crawl into bed early and pull the blankets over my head and pretend that I am all alone.
I don't think that makes me a bad person.
I play ball. Slo-pitch is an important part of my life. I'm good at it, I love the social aspect, and I love that I can put my home life to the side for an hour and half a few times a week and take my frustrations out on a ball. And I look forward to every Spring/Summer when I can do that.
I also like to go out with my friends. I don't always hold back on those times; sometimes, I drink too much, sometimes I don't. But generally I look forward to those evenings away when once again I can let go of the frustrations and stresses that I hold when I am at home. I don't always make the smartest decisions when I've had a few two many either, but I don't think that reflects on my ability to be a good Mom.
My daughter babysits my 3 year old son. When I play ball, and when I go out with my friends. And she does this because my husband isn't physically capable to change my son's diaper or carry him off to bed. He's there, but he needs help.
Today I bear judgements for that. Today I am writing this from my soap box because I do not feel that it is ANYONE'S right, parent or non-parent, to decide that my 11 1/2 year old daughter taking care of my 3 year old son is dangerous. Nor do I feel that I am less of a person, less of a parent, because I trust my daughter to do so. And it isn't the first time I've had to defend this.
And each time it has come from people who have never had children themselves.
My friends with kids? They have never judged me. They've never told me I am doing something wrong. And they've never made me feel like a failure as a parent.
Am I wrong to be defensive about this? Am I wrong to think it's ignorant for non-parents to be judgemental about someone else's parenting? Am I wrong to be hurt, frustrated, angry, and overwhelmed by this personal judgement against me? I don't think I am.
I'm a good Mom. Not a great Mom. Truthfully I don't think anyone is. I've tried to see the other side of this; tried to understand whether the constructive criticism came from a good place, or a judgemental place (I think it can be both places at the same time). I've tried to be open to the advice. But it all comes back to one thing: How does someone who doesn't live my life deserve the right to tell me I am doing it wrong? Or not trust that I actually am?
And why do I have to feel as though their opinion is the right one and I should change my whole life because of it?
As Mom's we fiercely guard our children. Our protective instincts are generally the right ones. We know best. And that's because we know our children better than anyone else ever could. I don't think it's wrong to defend that. Nor will I ever consider another person's judgements on how I raise my kids as constrictive criticism. Because 'constructive' implies help. And that's not helpful. It's hurtful.
Yesterday I was angry. Today, I am hurt.