Parenting is like going to war. There are booby traps and minefields everywhere just waiting to blow up your ideals and good intentions. The people you’re fighting aren’t your children (although sometimes they are like tiny mercenaries tearing you apart until you give in to their every whim), instead your adversaries are other parents or adults in general.
The first thing I did when I learned I was pregnant was read a ton of parenting books. I wanted to do things the correct way. I also knew that I wanted children that would remember all my love and, hopefully, take care of me in my old age! What happened, though, is that those books were good guidelines, but really parenting is about trial and error and survival of the fittest. I learned I had to make my own rules in order to juggle a full time job and be a mom. However, I soon realized that my way was not always the right way in the eyes of others.
I like to put my kids in time out when they misbehave, but when a mom I know saw me do that, she proceeded to tell me how that was an awful parenting technique and sent me a few articles about why it was so wrong. I value her opinion, but it’s not my opinion and that’s ok. At the time though, I wasn’t so thick-skinned and it made me feel bad that she was criticizing me as a parent and made me feel like I didn’t know what I was doing, which, let’s be honest, I didn’t and still don’t.
Another tough decision was when it came to making the choice to get my two boys circumcised. That was a tough day because I had to decide whether or not to have a doctor cut my child, but I did my research and decided to do so for both of my kids. Did I make the right choice? I think so, but according to a group of men who were in Idaho Falls recently in their “blood soaked” jeans, I and many mothers made the wrong decision. They waved a sign around that condemned mothers who circumcised their children saying they should be in jail and I remember thinking, “They mean mothers like me.”
I am always the first one to sympathize with a parent when their child is misbehaving in a public place. It’s happened to all of us, but for some reason, people love to judge parents when their child becomes a raging monster in a store. When my oldest child was 2, he threw the most outrageous tantrum in Walmart over wanting a sucker. I had already paid for my stuff by the time he saw what he thought was the most glorious sucker to have ever been created and he needed that sucker in his life. When I said no, he let out a blood-curdling scream and threw himself to the ground. At this point, people were staring, and I’m pretty sure my face was the color of a tomato. When I went to grab him, my child got off the floor and started running away from me. I caught up with him, dragging my five bags of groceries behind me and gathered him in a football hold and tried to march out of the store with the last shred of dignity I had left. However, that was when my child began to yell, “Help me, help me.” At this point, an older man walked up to us and asked my child if he was ok. If looks could kill, that man would have taken his last breath. Of course, my son wasn’t going to say he was ok! He was deprived of the one thing in the world he wanted.
Being a parent is tough. Being a single parent is tougher. I no longer have that person to bounce ideas off of or to at least share 50% of the blame with. Time out doesn’t work with my youngest. He is surly and stubborn and talks back to me. He is my sour patch kid – first he’s sour than he’s sweet. He drives me up the wall trying to discipline him because nothing works for him.
My oldest is my helper unless he is exacting revenge on his brother and, when that happens, war has broken out in my house and the best thing I can do is hide in my closet with a chocolate bar and save the punishment for when they have surrendered.
Parents need to cut each other some slack. Your right way may not work for me and, unless I ask for your advice, don’t shame my parenting choices. Luckily, I have developed thick skin, but as a first time parent, I was an insecure mess and the one thing I didn’t need was judgmental people commenting on the way I was raising my kids.