- My kid would never scream bloody murder in the grocery store.
- And, similarly, I would never buy a candy bar in the checkout line just because they didn’t throw a fit in the store.
- My kids’ clothes would always match and they would always look clean.
- I would never use spit to wipe smudges off my kids’ faces.
- I would never say, “Because I said so” like it was a good enough answer.
- I would always make my kids eat what was served and would not cater to picky eaters.
- I would change my clothes immediately if the baby spat up on me.
- I would never buy ugly Velcro strap shoes.
- I would never let the kids sleep in my bed.
- I would never put my kids in front of the television just to get a moment’s peace.
- I would never do something for them that they could do for themselves.
- I would always treat my children the same.
- I would never have to guess at parenting because I knew all about child development.
- I would never lose my cool and I couldn’t understand how a parent could ever abuse a child.
- I would never rescue my child from his own irresponsible behavior.
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.