Today as I was reading my friend Chelsea's blog, Paisley Leather, I came across a post of hers that was, well, there's no other way to put it, absolutely fantastically amazingly heartfelt about mommyhood! As you all know, the theme of my blog is mostly about how even as a child counselor I am not a perfect mom and make mistakes. And after reading this post about judging moms, I just knew I had to have her on here as a guest blogger!
Chelsea is an amazing writer (she was an English major) AND has the cutest little girl Laila. Who, I might add, has almost the same birthday as my Luna because we met while they were both growing in our tummies, while their mommies took the same Birth class together!
An Open Apology to All the Moms I've Judged Before
My friends, I'm not really sure what an "open apology" is... I tried to google it but I just found a lot of open apologies published on the Internet. Including one to the entire country of Iceland. So... that didn't really help me much. But, if an "open apology" is one in which the apologizer's heart is open and naked and splayed out for all to see, then I've appropriately titled this post. This is my genuine and heart felt apology to all the mothers I've judged in the past. Here it goes.
- To the mother who ignored her tantrumming toddler in Target: I judged you. I'm sorry.
- To the mother who carried her toddler, kicking and screaming, out of the mall with one arm while dragging a 4(ish) year old child with the other: I judged you. I thought to myself "Oh, those poor children." I'm sorry.
- To the mother who's children have terrible table manners: I judged you. I'm sorry.
(Here's a big one. SUPER ouch on this one.)
- To the mother who's child was so shy, she wouldn't speak to anyone. Let alone, crack a smile: I judged you. I thought you ought to teach your child to be friendly. I'm sorry. I'm so so sorry.
- To the mother of the set of twins who used to bite me in Kindergarten: I judged you. You really should have done something about that. But perhaps you tried really hard. Perhaps the biting thing was a heartbreaking issue for you. I shouldn't have judged you. I'm very sorry.
- To the mother of the 4 year old who still used a pacifier: I judged you. I'm sorry.
These are just a few examples of mommies that I, in all my righteous wisdom, have judged. And I had NO IDEA. Zero.
Of course, I never would have said any of these things aloud to these mommies. I never would have wanted to hurt feelings. I'm too "nice" a person for that... But I certainly thought they were missing the mark. I definitely thought that I could do better.
I am so so sorry.
Last week was quite possibly my worst week as a parent. It was a really really hard week. Let me just start by telling you what happened on Monday. After a very busy weekend as the Maid of Honor in a friend's wedding, I wanted to spend a lot of sweet, quality time with Laila. I told her we could go to Baby Bounce, which is storytime at the public library. We've been going since she was, like, 3 months old and we love it. It is a serious blessing. When we got there, though, Laila was not simply not obeying me. She was doing silly things that she knows not to do like putting the shaker egg in her mouth. Which is, my friends, totally gross! A million little toddler hands have been on those eggs and you know how children are... they're little carrier monkeys. No one likes having a sick 2 year old up in the middle of the night so I was trying to avoid her catching a pesky autumn cold. I told her 2 times NOT to put the egg in her mouth and, when she did it a third time, I said, in my best Authoritative Mommy Voice, "If you put that egg in your mouth one more time, Laila Grace, we are going home." And do you know what she did?! She looked right at me, y'all, and put the egg in her mouth.
An instant later, she took it out, squared her eyes on mine and said, "You're supposed to take me home now."
The GALL! The NERVE! The AUDACITY!
And do you know what I did? I majorly and completely Mommy Failed. I didn't take her home. Can you people believe it?! I DIDN'T take her home. I know. I know. You're all shaking your heads right now and judging me. It's okay. You're allowed. For this one moment, you're allowed. I judge myself!!
Here's the deal: I didn't want to leave. I was totally intimidated by the thought of being alone at home with this child. I was tired. I was overwhelmed. I was weak.
And, ultimately, it was unfair to Laila. Because she needs to know that her mommy is a woman who will keep her word. She needs to know that she cannot blatantly disobey and get away with it. She needs to know where her boundaries are so that she can feel secure within them. She absolutely and completely NEEDS me to follow through.
About 5 minutes later, I said to her, "Laila. Right now, Mommy is having grace for you. Grace is when you do not get the punishment that you deserve. You deserve to be taken home because you disobeyed but I am having grace for you and letting you stay at Baby Bounce."
Sounds good, huh? And, yes, grace is a concept that I absolutely want to teach. But, in this case, friends, it was a cop out. I can admit that. I was simply too lazy to follow through. And I was scared. Of my 2 year old. Sheesh.
On Wednesday, I status updated (See how I made "status update" a verb? My english degree entitles me to take such liberties) my feelings: "Parenting a 2 year old is really tough work. There is little room for weakness, double mindedness or distraction. I had better get it together. Seriously."
That particular statement was born out of the realization that, on any given day, my personality is given to distraction, flightiness, inconsistency, forgetfulness... It's all part of my charm! Hee hee. And, back in the day, when it was all about ME, the consequences of these tendencies were born by myself alone. And for the most part, the consequences weren't so bad... BUT when you are parenting a 2 year old, you simply aren't allowed these sorts of luxuries. It turns out that it is really hard to be a Type B Mama. Can I get a WITNESS??
And, to think, all those years, I watched. And I judged. And I thought I could do it better.
So, all of that was the bad news.
Here's the good news:
Taken from excerpts of conversations with two sweet friends:
Last week (AKA, the Week from "H" - "E" - "Double Hockey Sticks"):
First piece of good news: Someday, they will have 2 year-olds of their own.
Okay, j/k about, like, the sweet revenge part... But, no, seriously.
Second piece of good news: The effort and the heartache that is required to train them at this point is going to reap a reward. Our children will be better people. Our daughters will be better women for the good seed that we've sown. With blood, sweat and tears. Oh, the tears.
Third piece of good news: Even when we mess up, we're modeling humility and repentance. Our daughters will learn to be forgiven but they will also learn how to offer forgiveness. I always say that the most important words in a marriage are not "I love you". They are "I'm sorry" and "I forgive you". If I can have a hand in teaching Laila the power of forgiving others, then I will be investing in her future marriage. And that is worth it's weight in gold.
Yes, my friends, I do believe that the Lord is using these days. To build character, strength and patience. To tighten the bonds between Laila and I. To make us more like Jesus.
And I welcome it... mostly.
In the meantime, Mommies that I've judged, please accept my apology. Accept my heartfelt and genuine apology. And if you are a Mommy Judger, REPENT! Turn from your evil ways!! Recognize that nobody knows what it's like to be someone else, to "walk in their moccasins", as the plaque in my Granny's kitchen used to say. Let's encourage each other. As women, as mothers, as wives, let's take the energy we use for contempt and use it in love and grace instead. Let's help each other, build each other up, walk arm in arm, sing Kumbaya... Okay, we don't have to sing Kumbaya... but, seriously...
" Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins."
1 Peter 4:8