An Apology to the Parents of the World...
I am guilty of being "that guy" who judges parents when they know nothing about parenting. Before I had kids, I would often think to myself, "oh I won't do it that way..." or "if that were my kid..." and let's be honest--I had no damn clue what I was talking about. It is so easy to assume you would know what to do until it is your kids. So to the parents I have judged inside my head or in remarks to my friends, let me issue you a sincere apology. I knew not what I spoke of.
I am in the trenches. Oliver is 1. David is almost 3. Both of them can walk and express their displeasure with various levels of verbal acumen. I often cannot manage them both at the same time. I mean, sometimes I can. Every once in a while we have a lovely outing where things go smoothly. A day when all is well and I don't feel like I need to yank my hair out. But I have two kids under 3. Life is chaos. It is a beautiful and infuriating kind of chaos that I know I will look back on fondly... at some point.
So here it is: to all the of the parents who have just been trying to make it all work, I am so sorry that I judged you. I had no a clue about what I was in for.
To the mom who gave her kid the cell phone at the dinner table so she could have a moment of peace to eat, I see you. I don't know how I ever thought I wouldn't become you. Mama, I am you. Sometimes YouTube Kids is the only that keeps us together. It saves our meals out from devolving into chaos.
To the mom nursing a toddler at the Festival of Books years and year ago, thank you for proudly feeding your child despite the stares and gawking. I am not going to lie, when I saw your little one reach in, pull down your top, and go to town I was pretty shocked. I mean, I thought myself very progressive and pro-breastfeeding, but wow. I wasn't, And now, 8+ years later, I am you. My handsy little toddler will yank a boob out of my shirt if given the opportunity. And sure, I shoot for some modesty, but these breasts are meant to feed babies and that's what I'm going to use them for. Thank you for modeling for me what it means to unabashedly care for a child, despite the judgement of those around you.
To the mom who didn't keep a close eye on their kids who ran around the housewares store where I worked, I am sorry that I didn't realize you were doing your best. You just needed a replacement filter for your compost pail and I know how hard it is to get childcare. If you need to run an errand and you've got kids it can be rough. I know that now. You needed to get things done to keep your life moving and those kids are the center of that life. Sometimes they have to come along... even when it makes it a bigger headache. I know this now. I've been there.
There are so many parents that I judged in someway before I had my kids. I thought that I would know what I was doing. Ugh, giving your infant a bite of ice cream? I would never! My kid won't have sugar until they [insert absurd age here]. I can't roll my eyes hard enough at past me. And don't even get me started on how lax I am with baby #2 compared to baby #1.
It is hard to escape judging others, and it is easy to get caught in the trap. The reality of it is, we do not know what struggles and challenges those around us are managing. We also don't know what privileges or disadvantages they're dealing with either. I have snapped at my kids on a bad day and felt the judgmental gaze of someone from across the parking lot. I have unapologetically nursed my baby and seen the looks of disgust from the people at the other table. I get it now. Oh do I get it.
So dear parents of the world that I have been guilty of judging, please accept my humble apology. I had no idea what the hell I was talking about... nor do I really now. I mean, we're all just figuring it out--one mistake at a time.