When I was pregnant, I would read all of these articles about becoming a mom. What might happen, what will definitely happen, what won’t happen. What I was never prepared for – along with motherhood because you’re never prepared – was the amount of judgment that would be coming my way. Other moms, people without kids, soon-to-be moms, mothers who have raised their children to watch them grow up to be adults. It’s crazy to think that people who have been in your parenting shoes would really cast a stone at you for making a decision that you felt was beneficial to your flesh and blood…but it happens. I know it also happens to single mothers, non-custodial mothers, birth mothers who have open adoptions, birth mothers who don’t have open adoptions. I can empathize but I can’t say that I know what their degree of it is first hand. I know from what I have read in some blogs that my fellow Momfriends have written and sheesh…WHAT THE HECK, MAN?!
I’m going to talk about my own experiences though, as I’m never at liberty to speak of someone else’s. From getting the overwhelming guilt thrown on me about being a working mother to people acting disgusted that I’ve had my child in daycare since he was three months old, it’s been a whirlwind of know-it-alls and sanctimonious people coming at me from ALL sides. Let me break it down for you: My child is well rounded for three years old. His vocabulary is amazing, the doctor was so impressed by him at his 3 year old well visit. Despite his latest bout of ‘threenager’ tantrums, he’s a wonderful little boy. He shows empathy, is very affectionate, and picks up on things that most children older then him don’t. We do have our struggles when it comes to certain things like potty training, but I feel that is something I’m definitely not alone in.
I try my hardest not to judge another parent, and sometimes I fail miserably. I will keep my thoughts to myself rather than leave comments on social media for that other parent to see. Even on those days where I find myself saying aloud – “why is that baby’s coat on in the car seat?” or “stop plopping the kid in front of the tv” I have to stop and remember that I’ve been there. Every parent is dealing with their own set of issues, every parent has a different situation. I’ve said this so much about a plethora of things but what’s good for you may not be good for someone else – this definitely goes for parenting.
My husband and I work very hard to make sure our son has a roof over his head, clothes on his back, and food on the table. Right before Andrew’s first Christmas, my husband lost his job. The pressure was on me to provide for the family – I was now the breadwinner and I also was the one with the health insurance. Every day was a constant battle for me because I was so terrified of losing my job. I was so worried for my husband and what being a stay at home dad would do to him. He’s a lot like my father in that sense where he’s a proud man and a very hard worker…so for him to be out of a job crushed him. My husband found a new job six months later, and while it wasn’t a dream job and it wasn’t a salary job he took it because he knew that his pride had to take a backseat. The important thing was our son and making sure we were providing for him together as a cohesive unit.
Not all couples have the same situation as we do, but this is the choice that my husband and I made together when we decided to try to have a baby. We were going to be working parents, unless one of us had a great situation that allowed for the other to stay home. No, Andrew would not be staying at home with either one of us in that case – he’d be going to school. We’re very happy that he has interaction with other children, that he’s at a daycare that takes amazing care of him and it’s a place he LOVES. The amount of crap I’ve gotten for saying that I need a life outside of being my son’s mother is insurmountable at best. People take that far out of context as if I dislike being a mother, but that is so far from the truth it’s ridiculous. I LOVE being a mom. It’s my jam, I tell people that constantly. But I cannot be just a mom. I need to be myself, I need to have days for me and nights where I go to dinner with my best friend. Just like my husband needs the same thing. This isn’t just limited to my needs and wants, because his are important, too.
I would sell hot dogs on a street corner if it meant that’s what I had to do in order to care for my child and also, my husband. Nothing is beneath me, because when it comes to my husband and son would do anything for either one of them. Parenting in the age of social media is very trying, and not because you’re expected to share the details of your child’s first everything but other parents will look at pictures or statuses and decide to rip you apart because it’s “not what they would do.” I don’t get the feeling that men do this to one another, so it makes me really think about where we are in society as a whole. Women will tear one another down repeatedly and being a mother doesn’t mean you’re exempt from that. And with my anxiety, I constantly worry about the way people are perceiving me and my interactions with my child. That’s when I feel the most alone, even though I know that there are other parents out there that feel what I do.
So when you’re browsing social media and you see your friend’s posts about their child – take a second before you react or even start picking it all apart. Try to understand that maybe there’s something far beyond the surface going on. There is no instruction manual on how to be a parent. We’re all winging it. We’re all figuring it out and even then, we can’t figure it out. Everyone’s parenting style differs, and everyone’s child is different in how they take to things. The sooner we remember that, the better off we’ll be when trying to raise a tiny human being. I still have hope that common decency will prevail, and we can live and let live.