Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Parenting Files: Don't Tell Me Who I Am. I Don't Even Know That Yet.

You know those days from hell where you would give anything for a rewind button? Last Saturday was one of those for me. Lest I turn this into a whine fest I'll just say days of single parenting plus five hours on a train with a head cold, a cooped up and hyper 5 and 8 year old and less than friendly fellow passengers is not an ideal situation for me. It turns out being on a train with me and my two children was less than ideal for the jerk guy next to me too. With less than 20 minutes to go to our destination he decided to yell at my kids and talk loudly about us to the person behind him. I should have left well enough alone. I should have ignored him. But, I didn't. I know it's best to always turn the other cheek but doing that has never left me feeling good about myself. I confronted him and we got into an argument which left me quizzing him on his childish behavior and him telling me I was a bad parent. No one won. And I have been upset by it ever since.

Since I've been a Mom I've noticed that people love to critique how you're doing. Just off the top of my head I can think of three distinct times that complete strangers have either praised me or chastised me for my parenting. Really? Unless I'm beating my children in public, is it any of your business? And what makes you think that one moment in a particular day is the complete example of how my parenting is 24/7. I wonder what would happen if I were a man. I know all of my friends are amazed that my husband interacts with my kids, takes them places alone, and coaches their soccer teams. He's their parent and not a babysitter.

The bottom line is that if that man had actually talked to me and asked me to either move or try to keep them quieter I would have gladly done so and apologized. His inability to be polite to me and rude to my children brought out the worst in me. And neither one of us is the better for it.

As for being a bad or good parent, I guess it all depends on what your guidelines are. My children are well loved, well fed, and have plenty of what they need and more than enough of what they want. But, have you ever met anyone who didn't have some complaint about something their parents did wrong? This is child rearing. No one gets out unscathed.
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. Plato


Dilem*mama said...

My grandfather used to say about rearing children that those people who had children understood and those that didn't never would.

Heather said...

Jenny, truth be told, I would have told that guy off too! Some people just have no patience or compassion, and I think that anyone who would take it upon himself to yell at someone else's children needs to be told about himself.