Man, I hate it when moms can be so catty. After yesterday's post when I was reveling in the golden light that shines upon the sisterhood of mommies everywhere, today was really aggravating. I hate when random people, but especially other moms, have something to say about how I'm parenting, especially when I'm doing just fine and minding my own business, thank you very much! When I am just sitting, feeding my very well-behaved children an actually nutritious lunch, and I get two cents thrown in from the peanut gallery. I find that very, very annoying.
I brought my kids to a public, kid-centered place today (I don't want to be very specific because I enjoy going to this place and don't want a bad post to be the first thing people see when they google it). This place features recreation geared toward preschoolers. A total kid place, with lots of other preschool kids. Imagine an indoor playground kind of vibe and you'll get the picture. Jax enjoys going there so much that he recognized that we were driving in that direction and asked to go there. That wasn't originally on the agenda, but we went for it. We had a great time this morning, blowing off steam and burning some energy. Em was a big girl and liked hanging out with the toddlers--she is so close to toddling and loves big kids; she was all smiles and adventure. It was overall a really great time.
I did notice, however, one mom who was giving me a bit of the stink eye since she arrived because Jax was playing with something with her one-year-old and he made her nervous. They actually played fine, but you could tell she was a hovering kind of mom, and I am not, so I think she wanted me to supervise them more when I thought they were getting along just fine. So, therefore, I'm pretty sure she didn't like me from the get-go. Here's what happened when I broke the kids away from the recreational activity to have lunch.
The lunch area was packed with kids running around, snacking, playing, having diapers changed, putting on and pulling off snow boots--the general clamour of indoor kid fun. I spotted the one available table where I could feed my kids lunch. It was an adult-height table with four adult-sized chairs. I could handle it. No highchairs available. Em is not regular-chair ready, so I pulled out the kids' lunches, laid them nicely on the table, had Jax actually sitting nicely and eating for the first time in weeks and had Em sit on the table where she could reach down and feed herself off her napkin. Em is not a Mommy-feed-her kind of girl. She will adamantly refuse food if I offer it to her; she is independent and likes to feed herself. I suppose I could have held her in my lap, but I had two meals going, ripping sandwiches into bites, two cups of water, lots of snacks that are still too big for Em's two teeth, so I just sat her in front of me with my hand behind her back and kept an eye on the general goings-on of lunchtime. And I thought they were doing great.
Then I hear a three-year-old boy (let's call him "Z"), whose mother I know by attending this recreational facility, ask his mother why that baby (meaning my baby) is allowed to sit on the table. I look over and smile in an understanding way. Toddlers are curious little beings and don't yet have a grasp of situational allowance for rule-breaking. Of course, when Em is ten, I wouldn't let her sit on a table at lunch. But for now, when there is no highchair and I'm maneuvering through double lunch duty, of course she'll explain that that baby's mommy has her hands full and is doing the best she can. After all, she herself has two kids. She must have to navigate some less-than-perfect-ettiquette moments herself.
Instead, this is what she says.
"Well, Z. I don't know what is okay for THOSE kids. All I know is what is okay for MY kids and MY kids are not allowed to sit on the table during lunch."
Judgment. Judgment. Judgment. The terrible Third Person Insult: insulting me indirectly to someone else but making sure I can still hear.
I didn't look her way, but I wanted to be like, What the hell? Do you think I like juggling two meals at once? Do you think I was offered a highchair and refused it? Do you think letting my daughter squash her food into her pants is high on my list of things-to-do list for the day? But I didn't; I just kept feeding my well-behaved kids their nutritious lunch. A few minutes went by, and then the mom who was giving me the stink eye earlier came out with her kids. Apparently these two moms have the perfect homes because the first thing her little stinker says was, "Mommy! Look at that baby sitting on the table! Why is she sitting there?"
Inwardly I was like, Enough with the commentary, kids! Move along! Nothing to see here! But I just continued ripping sandwiches, tipping water bottles, wiping fingers. Making sure Em didn't fall off the table. Making sure Jax ate more than just animal crackers. You know, normal mom stuff, not worth judging. But his mom was like, "I don't know, Annoying Kid. Maybe they have different rules at their house. But YOU are not allowed to sit on the table during lunch."
Judgment. Judgment. Judgment!
What the hell! What does this lady know about how my house is run? Maybe my house is immaculate and my kids use cloth napkins kept perfectly in their laps and eat off china and drink out of crystal because their table manenrs are that impeccable. Maybe I am a freelance writer for Martha Stewart's Real Simple and I can tell her thirty ways to fold her napkins into swans and eagles and Christmas trees. Or maybe, it's just one of those days, ladies, so why don't you cut a sister some slack?
Nope. Judgment abounds. Damnit, ladies. I didn't say anything when it was apparent your kid is a total mama's boy and wouldn't leave your side. I just smiled encouragingly like, We've all been there. And when your older kid smashed into Jax while they were running around like little boys tired of being indoors do, I just told Jax to rub some dirt on it and moved along. I didn't glare at her in accusation, making her cower and wonder who she was messing with. Nope. Our kids all fight, and push, and refuse to share and sometimes sit on tables. So why not take this moment to just say to your kid, "I don't know why that baby is sitting on the table, Z. But her mommy must know why so let's go eat our snack." Implying, mommies know best what's best for their own kids. And comments from the peanut gallery to their kids are the worst kind of judgment--a Third Person Insult.
Nothing makes me more irritated than when moms judge and act like they haven't been there, or if they have, they would have acted differently. Remember those moms who let Jax play in pee as a form of mommy punishment for bad form, when all I was doing was nursing in public? Oh, don't even get me started. Sometimes I wonder how we can tell our kids to share and how they can play so nicely together and then ironically their moms are the ones who turn out to be mean.
Doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me.
Feel free to read more musings at "Rub Some Dirt On It"