Tuesday, May 12, 2009

I am a Good Mom, Dammit!

Since this whole blog entry is about judgment, you can judge me later for using the word, "dammit." For now, it seemed appropriate.

So we've all done it, made a snap judgment about someone without knowing the person or the situation. Whether it's about the way they look, or act, or parent, we're all guilty. I get that, but most of the time, we keep our judgments to ourselves, right? Okay, maybe not completely to ourselves Yeah. we might gossip a little here and there with our buddies. The point is that you don't walk up to the mom in Walmart who's dealing with a melt down child and tell her she's a bad parent. You judge her in your mind, say a quick "that will never be me" in your head, and move on.

Well today I became a victim of someone else's snap judgments. We're at Chick-Fil-A after Connections. There were four of us moms and 7 children between us. For the most part the moms were congregating outside the play area chatting up a storm while the kids played. However, Amy was going in and out as to give more supervision for her daughter. So Anne and I are conversing when this other mom comes up to me with paper towels in her hand and says, "your son just spilled tea all over the place and I had to clean it up." First of all, why did she feel the need to clean up after my son. She obviously knew he belonged to me. Could she not just tell me what had happened? Did she not think I was capable of cleaning up a little spilled tea? But at this point I was gracious. "Oh, I'm sorry. You didn't have to clean up after him. If you'd have told me, I would have come in there."

"Well, he shouldn't have had tea in there to begin with," says the lady with a more than a little disdain. This is the moment it becomes apparent to me why she felt the need to clean up the tea. Obviously she feels like I'm an unfit mom. Obviously I gave Owen the cup of tea and sent him in there to frolic and spill as he sees fit. Oh the nerve of some people. "Actually I really had no idea he had taken his tea in there. I'll have a talk with him."

"I don't understand why you'd let your child run around in there without supervision." Okay, now you're just being cruel woman. I said I was sorry. Are you wanting me to bow down at your feet and crown you mother of the year. It's clear that your child has never done anything without your knowledge. Notice the lack of quotation marks. This is not what I said, but if you know me, you know I didn't let things go that easily. "I'm sorry that I make mistakes. I'm obviously not as perfect as you." Again she says, "well, I just don't understand why you wouldn't watch your child." First of all, it's not one child, it's THREE children. Second of all, check out the plank in your own eye before you nit pick at the speck (or sometimes a plank) in my eye. Third, seriously, you don't have to parent my children. I am a good mom, dammit.

She storms off the bathroom to clean herself up from her heroic act. I, in turn, go in to the play are to find Owen, and we have a long talk about taking tea into the kid's area. Really, he knows better. I told him that his consequence was that he would be all done playing and have to apologize to and thank the lady that had cleaned up his mess. I might not like how she judged me but the lesson was more important than my bruised pride. As the lady came back from the bathroom, I stopped her. "My son has something he needs to say to you." At first, she starts back into her bad parenting speech, but I stopped her. "Regardless of what you think of me. I teach my children to take responsibility for their actions. Would it be okay for him to apologize to you as well as thank you for cleaning up his mess?"

She seriously looked dumb founded, like I just pissed in her higher than mighty bowl of wheaties. Owen, with all the sincerity of a three year old, looked at her (as I've always tried to teach him) and said "I'm sorry I took my tea into the play area (insert a little prompting) and thank you for cleaning it up." She said, "That's okay," and walked away without so much as another word to me.

She made a snap judgment about me, and really all us moms there. She equated our lack of presence in the play area with a lack of ability to parent. Okay God lesson learned. I too judge, and I need to take a breather and think about the fact that I'm probably wrong. I have no idea what goes on in people's lives on a day to day basis. Heck, if I looked at a snapshot of my own life, there are times I'd call DFACS on myself. Sometimes, I lack patience. Sometimes, I zone out or make a decision without thinking it through. Sometimes, I make the wrong decision. Sometimes, I'm lazy or lack the energy to be consistent. I am by no means the perfect mom or even a suitable role model for other moms, but I'm a good mom, dammit.


Christy said...

I probably would have cried. Good for you, for still asking Owen to apologize. I may have been too embarassed!

Anonymous said...

Hillary, you are a better person than I am. I would have told her apparently she only sees what she wants to see so leave my kids to me and go to the bathroom to pull the burr out of her underwear.

Lazy Mom Leslie said...

You handled the situation beautifully and with grace. Chick fil A doesn't want all the moms in the play area with the kids anyway, that's why it has a glass wall.

Anne said...

I'm still mad at that lady for doing that. My mouth still drops open to think about it.

I feel like I haven't seen you in forever and that honestly makes me sad.

You're a genuinely awesome person, totally down to earth and I'm really hoping we have more opportunities to get to know one another!