This week, I shared two articles on my personal Facebook page. The first was about a mom who had left her son in her car while running inside a store for a quick errand, and the second was from a mom of three and the reactions she’s found from strangers when they see “large” families. These essays/articles were, to me, really good reading…and when I read something good, I have thoughts. Well, when I read something bad I also have thoughts, but probably not worth sharing publicly. So here I am, sharing my thoughts on these good posts.
The Day I Left My Son in the Car <– Link to essay.
This is a really well written piece by an incredibly honest mom. My fear is that some readers may stop at the “she left her son in the car!” portion of the essay, and not get to the real point of the story: what parenting has become. No, I don’t think it’s okay to leave your child in the car, so before jumping my case about that, hear me out. Her POV is that of a girl raised in a different generation — in our generation — a time when it really was viewed as totally fine to leave your child in your car while running inside the grocery store or post office. This quick and life-altering decision she made had lasting repercussions, but it also shed light on what today’s parent faces: constant scrutiny and judgement. I especially loved her thoughts on parenting now being a competitive sport, and that we are now at an “every man for himself” position. Seemingly gone are the days of “it takes a village…” I was speaking with a fellow new mom not too long ago, and she had mentioned that she started giving her son pancakes for breakfast. As I smiled and nodded, her eyes grew wide and she quickly added, “BUT NEVER WITH SYRUP!” as if I’d think she were pouring rat poison on her child’s breakfast before serving it. I replayed the conversation in my mind later, and I understood that she felt guilt and shame for possibly admitting to something that some parents would view as horrifying (syrup! on pancakes!) The reality is that I’d never given the syrup a second thought, because to each his own. We all parent differently, but as long as you’re parenting with love, caring for your child in the best way possible to ensure their health and well-being, then you could be covering the pancakes in Reddi-Whip for all I care. Seriously. The essay just reaffirmed thoughts I’ve had as a new mom: we need to get off each other’s cases, stop judging, and start being there for each other, and caring for each other. It’s a big job to take on single-handed; you should have zero reservations about asking for help or advice. You shouldn’t worry about someone calling Child Protective Services just because Susie fell off the couch. The essay is lengthy, but it’s one of the very best things I’ve read in quite some time.
To the Lady Ashamed of Being Pregnant with Her Fourth <— Link to post.
Really, when did our family “plans” become the business of anyone but our own families? I have noticed that the closer our son grew to 12 months old, the more frequently people began asking about the next baby. Of course this is a question posed to newlyweds and new parents for decades, but there’s just something about it that strikes me as invasive. As the writer points out, if your “plan” doesn’t fit into what the majority of society has deemed acceptable, people are going to look at you funny. Why should I answer a question that doesn’t impact the person asking it? Why should I feel the need to justify or explain any answer I may give? Has society become so “open” that people find it’s perfectly normal to ask personal questions and then to expect very personal answers? This isn’t a TLC reality show; I’m not homeschooling a clan and making my own bread, so back off. We may have one child, we may have 15…it’s really not up to us, is it? But the idea that large families are somehow a burden, that parents of more than two children must be just slightly off, or that they want their lives to be utter chaos, is just silly. We have a toddler — one toddler — and life is chaotic. Kids or no kids, your life is guaranteed to run through its chaotic periods. The author of this post put into beautiful concise words what many of us have been thinking since we found out we were pregnant…it’s just not your business; you aren’t entitled to know anything.
I hope you take the time to read one or both essays; they’re worth it. I also hope that you pass zero judgement on your fellow parents, and understand that we are all different, but part of the same tribe. Help each other out every once in a while, okay?