Okay. This post is probably going to offend some of you. I mean, we all judge right? Judging is human nature, right? I know I do it. Sometimes I do it, and I reprimand myself for doing it. Because the thing is, you have no idea what other people are going through in their lives.
On Sunday, we went to church. We were looking forward to it, because Sunday breakfast was starting again. I don’t know if you are aware, but the number of young people who attend church has been shrinking. Or perhaps just the number of people going to church is declining for various reasons.
Breakfast was provided this week, but Sunday School won’t start until a later date. On Saturday night, we stayed out late and Darling Daughter was supposed to spend the night out, until she didn’t want to at 11:oo PM. She hit the hay in my bed some time around midnight. Perfect storm, right? We should have known and just skipped church, right? Only Son #1 had to acolyte. Duty calls.
So after breakfast my children were acting like
wild banshees children. They were running around, playing tag, and being incredibly too loud. I got onto them, not once, but twice. And then an older woman came up to me and said, “I mean, some people around here are trying to eat breakfast.” Did I respond with grace? Did I bite my tongue? No–I didn’t because I was tired, and Darling Daughter had already melted down once that day, and it wasn’t like I was sitting back and doing nothing. I had disciplined the children! So I looked at her and said, “It’s like you’ve never been a mother before and don’t know what it’s like!” I was bitter. And curt. And her comment had hurt my feelings. But all too often strangers make these types of comments to me and it PISSES me off! And it ticked me off in this instant too, because for a church to survive these days they need young people. And the young people who come with their kids don’t need to be judged. They need to be welcomed. They need to know that they have love and support. They need guidance, not criticism.
She has no idea that my kids were running on fumes. She has no idea that sometimes boys are physical and loud, with my boys maybe being more of both. And that one of my boys has another issue going on. And that emotional regulation doesn’t come naturally for them. And that, for fuck’s sake, they are only children and they only get to run around and act like crazy people for a few years of their life before they have to sit with their hands on their lap and have a stuffy breakfast with people like you who obviously think you could do a better job parenting my children. I’d like to see you try. Not all children fit inside a box, and my children seemed destined to destroy the box all together.
So then the morning went from bad to worse. I had an adult temper tantrum after Son #1 hurt my feelings–I was already on edge. I actually got into the car, drove around the neighborhood I grew up in while I cried and felt sorry for myself, then came back. And Darling Daughter then proceeded to throw a fit, because we told her it was inappropriate for her to lie down under the church bench. Some days, so help me God. By this time I didn’t care who was judging me. I just wanted me and my children to get out of there alive and still a little bit sane.
Anyway, I know I’m not perfect and I judge people too. I’m working on it. I’m working on becoming a kind, more considerate person. I’m trying hard not to judge other parents. I see parents struggling, and I hope them the best. Sometimes I ask them if they need help. Because I know how hard parenting can be. And I know that a one-off comment can make you question every aspect of your parenting skills and make you never want to take your kids out into public (or church) again.
After this incident I thought about our Friday night, out at Dairy Queen, where we were celebrating the first two nights of school. Two older couples came up to us and told us that they just loved seeing our kids talking and enjoying their ice cream. And one mother said, “It brought back those days that seemed so wild and crazy when my five were little, but that went by so fast. Your kids are so sweet.” These are the comments to tell parents who look like they’re on their last rope. Sweet, kind comments that show you commiserate with them, that you understand how hard parenting can be, but that there is a joy in the fleeting days of childhood that can parallel no other.
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