Here are all the things I knew about parenting before I became one:
I could spot a lousy parent a mile off. They were the ones that looked like they hadn’t showered and had three kids screaming in the grocery cart that they were filling with prepackaged junk food. They were the ones whose kids looked like they picked out their own outfit and had chocolate smeared all over their hands and faces. I knew that I would never have left the house that way. I knew that my kids wouldn’t act like that because I would know how to handle a toddler’s tantrums in the bread aisle.
I was such an expert. When I’d hear about children who had been abused on the news, I could scarcely believe that a parent could treat their child that way. But then…..kids came along. Kids who had strong opinions and kept me on my toes from sunup to sundown. Kids who made messes they wouldn’t clean up and got dirty seconds after I had bathed them. Kids who climbed into my bed in the night and I was too tired to fight with.
It’s funny how a little real life experience can turn your ideas upside down. I remember the first time I was beyond frustrated and had to cool off on the front porch because I was on the verge of discipline getting out of hand. I sat there thinking, “This is how parents abuse their children.” I realized that all of my “expertise” was really just book knowledge and when the rubber met the road, parenting was really hard.
So for all the moms in the grocery or at the park that I looked down on back in the good ol’ days when I knew everything, I’m sorry. I’m sorry I judged you. I’m sorry I thought I was better than you. And I’m sorry that I didn’t give you a kind smile and a little grace. Because really, for every wonderful part about parenting there are two or three parts that are not as easy and wonderful. If you’re in the trenches right now and you know what I’m talking about, hang in there. And the next time you see another tired mama who is holding onto her sanity by a thread, give her some compassion. After all, she probably thought she was an expert at one time too.
Hi! I'm Janet and I've been the Director of the Before and After School and Smart Start Preschool Programs at the Troy Rec since 1994. My hubby and I have been married 30 years and we have two grown sons. Each of them is married and blessing us with grandchildren left and right. Life is good even when the nest is empty!