Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Parents are Human Beings Too.

There is nothing more daunting than the task of raising a child. Not only are you responsible for the life of your kid, who wants to eat batteries and play with butcher knives, you are in charge of helping him/her grow up to be a decent human being. The tremendous weight of this responsibility is placed on the shoulders of every parent, whether they're ready for it or not.

There is no school to prepare you for the sleepless nights with your newborn, or the floating logs of poop in the bathtub. People don't earn some kind of parenthood degree before having a baby. Children don't come with an instruction manual. And yet our society somehow expects everyone to be perfect parents the second a baby is born. A parent's behavior toward their child is scrutinized everywhere they go. People are watching in the grocery stores, parks, restaurants, public bathrooms, you name it. There is always somebody watching.

Once I pulled in to a gas station to fill up my empty tank. I didn't have my credit card and it was raining, so I left my two year old son in the back car seat for a minute while I ran inside to pay with whatever change I had in quarters and dimes. When I came back there was a woman standing outside my car.

"Is this your kid?" She asked pointing to Samuel in the back  seat.                                                                                                            
"Yes."

"You can't just leave your kid in the car like that. Someone's going to steal him away. It's not that hard to take him out of the car and bring him with you."

I wanted to say, "What were you doing snooping around my car anyway? Why don't you mind your own God damn business." But instead I just brushed passed her saying "Okay. Okay." And started filling up the tank.

Guilt becomes a familiar emotion when you become a parent. You feel guilty when your kid is the least well-groomed kid in the room when you drop him off at day care. You feel guilty when you admit to the pediatrician that your kid doesn't eat vegetables. You feel guilty when you leave your kid in the car. It doesn't help to have perfect strangers judging you on every little mistake.

Today I saw a picture on facebook of a newborn baby bundled up in a car with a note saying "My mom's doing shopping, call her if I need anything." Above the picture it said that the police were called and the mother was fined $2000. My first reaction to the picture was, "Who leaves their kid in the car like that?" Then my memory of the gas station hit me full force. Sure I was only gone for a couple of seconds while this mom clearly gone for a longer period of time, but I kept thinking, "That could have just as easily been me."

Then I scrolled down and read a few of the comments:

"This mother is sick."

"Disgusting. She doesn't deserve to be a mother."

"She should be jailed and the baby taken away and adopted into a loving family."

Tears of rage filled my eyes as I scanned thousands of equally hateful comments below. Each comment felt as though it were being directed at me. By accusing her they were accusing me of the worst thing any mother can possibly be accused of. Your child deserves better.

I had to stop reading. I tackled the pile of dirty dishes in our sink, scowling at each plate and scrubbing with intense ferocity. I hate doing dishes, but performing this tedious, menial chore sometimes helps me clear the mess from more than just dinner plates. I reminded myself of all the things that make me a good mom. I build my son blanket forts. I take him to the park. I sing him lullabies. We have tea parties. We play dinosaurs. We have dance parties on the living room floor. He calls for me when he's hurt, or troubled, or scared. I am his mommy and there's no one in the world who could ever love him the way I do.

I am not a perfect mom, but I love my son and I am doing the best I can to raise him right. All parents face an impossibly difficult task when they bring forth life into this world. Sometimes we make mistakes. The next time you start judging that mom who snaps at her kids in the grocery store, or father who accidently loses his son in a crowd, try to remember we are all just trying to do the best we can with what we have. Parents are human beings too.

3 comments:

  1. This is so beautiful it made me cry! You ARE doing the best you can!

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