At least I know I’m not the only one

At least I know I’m not the only one

I just finished reading Judith Warner’s weekly column in the Times. Sigh. It brought to mind so many little nips and digs that I have felt — and actively tried to anticipate and fend off — since becoming a mom and having to carry/wear/stroll my child around in public wherever I go. So many strangers asking me angrily where my boy’s hat is, or suggesting that he’s too big to be worn on my back (he weighs 28 pounds, which is nowhere near too heavy) or whatever else. I’ve worried on the subway about strangers chiding me for letting him stand on the bench, or for allowing him to dictate where each of us sit, or for being okay with him standing by himself and holding the pole when he wants to.
Some of the little barbs still sting, probably because I realize I deserved them. Simon really should have been wearing a hat that day. But it looked sunny and not too cold outside and by the time I realized how cold it was, and how the wind was blowing, and how far it actually was that I had to walk it was too late to go back. I was mad enough at myself without anybody pointing out my folly and just grateful that I was wearing him and my body heat was keeping him warm. Sometimes when someone says something, I try to say , as politely as I can, “We’re fine, thank you,” and remind myself that I know my son and I know our situation and needs much better than any of them. But mostly I just try to ignore them and talk myself out of crying.

After all, it is often on the days that everything is going wrong that somebody has to go and remind you that you are an unfit mother and probably shouldn’t be entrusted with the well-being of a small child, which of course you already suspected.

8 thoughts on “At least I know I’m not the only one

  1. This is EXACTLY how I feel! I'm surprised at how many comments I have gotten while walking around here. Don't people think that we know anything about being a mom? I have to tell myself that they are just trying to help, and not trying to be rude. :)

  2. I know what you mean. I was talking on my phone, carrying Grey, and this woman stops me and asks where his hat is, and if he's wearing sunscreen. I tried to tell her politely we were fine. As we parted she said, "my son died of skin cancer." I just think of that woman and try to give people the benefit that they care over how grumpily they tell me. I think once you become a parent, it's hard to turn off that inner voice, even with other people's children.
    Anyway, well said, as always.

  3. I'm not a mother, but from what I've heard, I think a lot of mom's feel the same way. I learned long ago to just never judge how people are rearing their children. Each mother know's their child the best.

  4. oh-em-gee lizzie! you are so in my head. for what it's worth, you seem like an awesome mother…but you should already know that. btw, i love that pic!

  5. I've always had an issue with people telling me what to do. It always makes me mad and I decide right away that they're wrong. Normally I think this is a bad characteristic, but it was actually a bit helpful when strangers told me how to take care of Samuel. Instead of doing it, I just decided they were full of it and walked away.

    And you know, most of them actually were wrong, so I definitely wouldn't feel bad when strangers tell you what to do – you know Simon, they don't, and you take great care of him. :0)

  6. I read Judith Warner's article and yours, and I've totally been there and I really can't figure out why. Why is it that women in particular are so know-it-all and downright bossy and judgmental when it comes to someone ELSE's kids? Even (sometimes especially) from family members. Some of it is certainly well-meaning. Some of it is certainly not. I've found that my attitude, level of confidence, and reaction to my children really influences others' responses. When I am nervous about what people are thinking about my kids "can't you control that child??" I am not my best self and don't parent appropriately to my own child and what I know he needs. I open myself up to criticism when I look like I don't know what I'm doing and am frustrated (usually amplified by my embarrassment). When I choose to acknowledge that they don't know me/him/the circumstance and just know for myself; "he's tired and cranky and so am I," or "he really needs to burn off some energy!"then I can respond to my CHILD, not the critics. And even if they sound off I'm enjoying the moment with my child and they don't matter to me.

    For what it's worth, I think you're great. We all make mistakes, and we're all learning, and in the end… so what if your child catches a cold and what business is it of theirs??

  7. Wow. So true! Even though I'm not a mother I'd like to think that in those circumstances (because clearly it is bound to happen) that I would give a stranger the benefit of the doubt and not let his/her criticism to get to me, but I'm like you! And I'd feel like crying, but I'm not as strong as you and I actually would start crying! As harsh as what anyone else says I know that I'm a lot harder on myself. At any rate, for what it's worth, I know that you are an excellent mother and I love reading your blog- for some reason I'm convinced that it will prepare me in some way for motherhood… :) I am so trying to catch up on blogging! It has been far too long since I've read what's going on with you guys. I love this picture! And thank you thank you thank you! for your help in finding those articles for my talk.

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