I think to myself, “this was bound to happen.”
The truth is, I’ve been secretly (or not so secretly) reading Mommy Blogs for months now. It actually started with birth junkie blogs (particularly Birth Faith, who inspires me all the time), then gradually made a shift toward mommy blogs. I attribute this to Parenting. Illustrated With Crappy Pictures. It’s all her fault – and I’m sure somehow (though I don’t know her) that she won’t mind my passing the buck here. It’s a huge compliment. If you haven’t read her blog, you’re missing out. If you’re a PARENT and you haven’t read her blog, stop everything and go read her blog. Seriously. I’ve got lots of work to do on this project, and it’s not going to be interesting for awhile yet…she’s been working for months and is freaking hilarious. Enjoy.
The inciting action here is kind of important. You have the background, and it’s good to know, but the trigger happened tonight, and I’m still reeling a bit. It starts with a confession.
I try to be the best mom in the world. I’m into attachment parenting. I breastfed my daughter exclusively for 8 months, then engaged in extended breastfeeding for nearly 3 years. The thing I miss most about having an infant is definitely the babywearing. My Sleepy Wrap is tucked away in a closet and I run across it occasionally and feel a pang of “baby need.” And yep, there was another pang when I just found out that Sleepy Wrap is now called Boba Wrap – it’s been so long since I’ve been a babywearer, its name has changed…sigh.
My point is, I think I’m a pretty darn good mom. I’m the best mom I can be. My daughter is charming, and smart, and funny, and brave and all the good things the experts said she’d be if I did the things I’ve done. Success! But as it turns out, even the best moms do dumb things – or at least, less-than-super things. And fear not – when we Super Moms make a mistake or cut a corner or do something less-than-super – some jackass will be standing by to make a comment or judge us.
I travel for my job sometimes. Last week, I was about 4,000 miles from home when a broken tooth I’ve been ignoring for *years* suddenly became un-ignorable. So today, I had to go to the dentist (shudder). Having no dental insurance means I haven’t been to a dentist in…I’m gonna say “a long time” here, and what I want you to read is “an embarrassingly long time.”
My husband has a gig today, so that means I had to find someone (at the last minute) to watch our daughter. Mission accomplished. Then I had to get a shower, feed the child (and husband), and get the child to the sitter. Again, I managed, and was only 20 minutes late meeting the sitter. This is an accomplishment in and of itself. I actually managed to get to the dentist with 2 minutes to spare! Ooh rah!
Long story short – I need a root canal. But that’s not important right now.
After the appointment, I made it back to meet the sitter and my daughter at the playground in time for the sitter to get to her next job (she literally squeezed us in this afternoon). Since my daughter was having so much fun playing with other kids (something she doesn’t get to do often enough), I hung around for another half hour or so with her there. Then we had to go so I could pick up the prescription the dentist gave me for coping with the pain of a tooth broken down to the nerve.
For those not paying attention – I have a tooth broken to the nerve and I CHOSE to stay at the playground longer before going to get the pain meds. If that doesn’t seem superhuman to you, I’d like to trade central nervous systems with you.
Fast forward to the CVS Pharmacy – where waiting ten minutes for a prescription means ten minutes of trekking through the aisles and saying “No, sweetie, we don’t need more candy” and “No, the dogs don’t need more dog toys” and “Okay, yes, you can have one package of M&M’s” and “No, let’s not go play with the makeup”…I could go on. That was just like minute one and maybe part of two.
Then we make our purchases and say goodbye to everyone in the store (well, *one* of us does that last), and make our exit. As I’m strapping my daughter into her carseat (and we still use a 5-point harness for our 3 year old – that’s how safety-minded we are), I realize that I forgot to buy my Cokes. I’ll be making a subsequent post about my “drinking problem” with Coca-Cola, but that’s not important right now.
So I could undo the straps, get her out of the car, and guide her back into the “candy zone” at the front of the store. I could. I should. I know I should. But – and here’s the confession – I didn’t. I gave her my iPhone with Netflix showing Curious George, I locked the doors on the car, and I ran into the store to grab a 12-pack of Coke.
I did. I know. It’s dusk by now, it’s not hot or cold outside (right about 70 degrees), and we live in a very small town. There’s hardly anyone else in the store. I’m just grabbing a 12-pack that’s right by the door and paying cash – so it’s seriously maybe a full two minutes and I’m only about ten yards away. But it was still not a smart thing to do. It was easier. It spared me having to buy (or say no to) more candy. It spared me having to juggle holding hands with a 3 year old while carrying a 12-pack of soda and unlocking the car (the remote device having been lost years ago). It was dumb. I did it anyway.
It is imperative to note at this point that my child was FINE. She didn’t even realize I was gone, that’s how quick it was. She was safe, she was locked in, and she was *fine*.
Never fear, though. All of you who read this and think, “Shame on you! How dare you endanger your child!” can take comfort in knowing you had a champion. When I returned (at speed) back to the car, a very well made-up woman was getting into her pricey quasi-SUV luxury car, and took it upon herself to say:
“You shouldn’t have done that. You left your baby all alone in the car. Anyone could have come up and seen her there and taken her.”
I stared a moment. Then stammered something like, “I don’t usually – I just had to run back in…”
“That was dangerous and stupid,” she says.
“Honestly, I don’t. It was just a minute and this is our hometown – we know most everybody…” I continued, hating myself more with every passing second.
“I live here, too. And it’s NOT safe.” She unlocks the door to her car. I notice her very well-coiffed hair has hardly moved during this entire exchange. Her brows, which probably should be registering a frown-line between her eyes do not – most likely due to Botox treatment or some other nerve-deadening drug (that seems also to have affected her ability to feel empathy). But I digress.
At this point, I open my mouth to argue further – and then just decide to get in the car. There’s really nothing I can say anyway – she’s pretty much right. Except for that last bit, but really, there’s no point arguing. There’s nothing I could say that would change things. So I took the better option and just got in my car and left.
And stewed. And nearly cried. And stewed some more.
When I notice her turn off into a very exclusive neighborhood, it was all I could do to refrain from flipping her the bird. Not because she was wrong. Pretty much because she was right – and because she made me feel like shit. With that hair and makeup, I can only assume she either: a. has no or grown children, or b. has children and is able to pay someone else to do all of the things that would mess up said hair and makeup. Grrr…I shouldn’t judge – and that’s the thing. That’s *exactly* the thing. It’s not that she was wrong – it’s that she took it upon herself, knowing absolutely nothing about me or my parenting style, to judge me based on one stupid freaking mistake.
I got home, got my daughter settled (and fed again). Now she’s playing Pre-K games on her iPad and I’m starting this blog. Cause you know, I want to start off with a “I’m a terrible person – please shoot me” bang. And also because I finally had a triggering moment that pushed me over the edge from “regular” Mommy to an “I feel a need to share my experiences with others in hopes I can find some common ground and maybe even help someone else who’s in the same unpleasant position” Mommy.
I also couldn’t help but draw some parallels between the judgmental woman I encountered this evening and the women who’ve been responding to a recent post on crying it out by another awesome Mommy Blogger, Baby Rabies. Now, in no way do I mean to draw a parallel between my parenting blunder and anyone who decides, for whatever reason, to let a baby cry it out. Rather, it’s the response by someone who has no idea who I am or what parenting choices I typically make that felt similar to me as it was happening. I actually read the post just this morning via Mama Birth (yet another fantastic blogger that I read). So it’s sort of like the stars were aligning for me to take this step.
So what about you? Has this kind of thing happened to you and what was your response? Did you feel the same sort of shame/anger/disbelief that I did? Or even – am I missing something important? Maybe I really *should* be strung up by my big toes and flogged…