Dear judgmental moms in Starbucks,
Before my kids were born, I knew exactly how I was going to raise them and exactly how they'd turn out. They'd have a few flaws here and there, but we'd pretty much have a perfect family. I just knew it.
Then when they were little, I struggled a little bit with the whole parenting thing, but still thought I was doing it better than most. It was fairly easy to sit back and judge the working parents, or the mom that was always dumping her kid at my house for play dates that lasted forever or the parent that didn't attend the kindergarten parties. When I showed up to preschool with elaborate themed homemade treats for birthdays, or special event Fridays, it was easy to smirk at the mom that forgot to bring anything.
When my kids started grade school and then entered middle school, I still thought I had a handle on the best way to raise children. All those other parents that let their kids go to the mall with their friends without supervision were crazy. They had no idea how rotten their kids were in public. Those other parents are doing it all wrong.
Which brings us to today. Sitting in a coffee shop this morning, I couldn't help but overhear a loud group of moms that clearly had kids similar ages. They went on and on about their parenting peers and how terrible Audrey is, or how permissive Amy is, or how absent Lisa is. It was an entire half hour of talking about how the other moms are doing it all wrong.
At first I sat there and couldn't help but feel a little sad. Sad because I could see myself as one of them.
Not now, but years ago, I was that same mom thinking that I had the right ways to raise kids - I surrounded myself with other women that sacrificed everything for their families and our only job was to create a cohesive unit. We couldn't quite understand any other way to live.
I'm not that person anymore. Raising teenagers changes you in a way that you don't expect. You start to realize that maybe you didn't do everything perfectly. You adjust some of the ways you think -- you see other perspectives and learn that you can never judge anyone else -- you realize you can do everything right and things can still go wrong.
I now surround myself with a very diverse group of parents. They're all doing the best they can and in very different ways. Some have nannies, some work part-time, some volunteer like crazy and some have rarely seen the inside of the school. They are all also madly in love with their children. The bottom line is, that's all that counts.
However, I completely understand if you'd like to express your feeling about someone that has greatly impacted your child in a negative way - then judge away, but make sure you wouldn't say anything to your girlfriends that you wouldn't say to the other parent!
So Starbucks ladies, take some advice from me - climb off of that very high horse you're perched on, turn around and expunge the incredibly long stick up your ass and look around you. YOU ARE NOT PERFECT. Either are the other parents you're judging. Wouldn't life be much easier if you let your guard down and told your little circle of friends how scared you are that maybe you've been wrong about some of your parenting decisions?
I know you think you're all that, but trust in someone that's been there - you're not and the sooner you open up your mind, the happier you'll be.
A concerned patron that tried not to listen to you at Starbucks, but you talk so freakin' loud I couldn't help myself
ps. sorry if this all seems like I'm judging you for judging others - but I kinda am. Feel free to call me a hypocrite when I walk away.
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Filed under: parenting