I hate confrontation. Any time I can avoid a potential argument or other sort of tension, I do so. For this reason, I have chosen to be a smile-and-nod kind of person as far as random strangers are concerned, because what’s the point? I’m likely never going to see them again and I won’t be able to change their minds.
Recently, I did something I had not done to date: I fought back.
I am absolutely sick and tired of people judging me without the slightest knowledge of who I am as a person or a mother. It never ceases to amaze me the kind of boldness that so many people have in approaching me and telling me exactly why they don’t approve of some facet of my parenting. This particularly astounds me because these brash individuals have only witnessed all of two seconds of my parenting style in any given public setting.
I know I am a darn good parent. I also know that there are battles that need not be fought. Which brings me to the story that spurred this post.
I drop Colby and Lily off at preschool around 12:30 every day. If I make it in time, I can avoid unloading the twins by sending Colby and Lily in with the teachers who pick other children up from the bus. If I am later than the bus, then I have to put the babies in their stroller and walk Colby and Lily in. Not the end of the world, for sure.
Monday, we were running late and missed the bus. I hadn’t put socks or shoes on the twins because 1. They take them off in the car, 2. I didn’t anticipate that we were going to be late, and 3. After the preschool drop, we head home and I put the twins down for nap anyway. You should also know that it wasn’t raining or windy. It wasn’t cold.
So, Lily was jumping around excitedly talking about how much she loves school and had even made up a song to express this love. I don’t know what in the world happened in the 2 minutes between getting out of the car and getting to her classroom, but all of a sudden, she had completely lost her mind. Meanwhile, Colby had skipped off to his class without issue. I had left the babies in their stroller at the bottom of the ramp to the portables, merely yards away from me, because it’s a pain in the you-know-what to maneuver a double stroller around. I had them in plain sight.
An older mom from another classroom walked down the ramp and stood next to the stroller. I eyed her suspiciously while I tried to calm Lily down. Another mom walked down the ramp and the first mom asked her if she knew whose babies those two were.
“I’m right here,” I called. “They’re mine!”
Like, duh, lady. I’m the only person standing anywhere near them.
Lily continued her conniption and finally the teacher intervened and led Lily away, saying that she’d be fine. I was already frustrated and totally confused by Lily’s change in attitude and embarrassing fit when I walked down the ramp to where the mom was still waiting.
I had a feeling I knew what she was going to say, but I decided to give her the benefit of the doubt.
“You’re their mom?” she asked.
“Yep, they’re mine!” I smiled.
“No socks? Hats? Shoes?” she asked.
Ohhh, the bad words that swam through my head. How badly I wanted to kick her square in the ovaries.
Instead, I smiled through gritted teeth and said, “Nope! None.”
“Well, I’m an old fashioned mom. I look for things like that. Kids need to have socks and hats and shoes,” she passive-aggressively and so smugly replied.
“Well, guess what? Last I checked, not wearing socks, shoes and hats won’t kill them. They’re just fine. Thank you.”
All right, I fully realize that wasn’t exactly the most dramatic confrontation or response I could have given her, but for me, that was huge. I don’t do that. I don’t speak sarcastically to be mean and I don’t get snappy to strangers.
But I’m sick of it. I’m sick of people passing judgment and letting me know exactly why I’m inadequate. I know I’m not alone in this. In fact, after I sped away from Ms. Old Fashioned Mom (wait, what does that even mean?! Wouldn’t a true old fashioned mom believe that kids are tough and should be able to walk uphill both ways barefoot in a showstorm?), I caught up with the mom she had approached to ask who the babies belonged to. I don’t know this mom, other than brief moments of dropping our kids off, but I was so fumed, I needed to talk to someone.
“Do you know what that lady wanted?” I asked her.
“No, what?” she replied.
“She wanted to berate me about my kids not having socks on.”
The other mom laughed. “Well, she’d be horrified to know that my 11 month old is currently at home with her dad in nothing but a diaper!”
Then, she went off on a tangent about people judging her in a similar way. We bonded over the audacity of strangers to dole out parenting advice. It was a good vent-chat.
This story is not the only one I’ve experienced in my parenting career, but it’s the straw that has broken the camel’s back. Especially where twins are involved, people are incredibly opinionated. About two months ago, I had Wy and Z next to each other in the Costco shopping cart. A few ladies came up and ooohed and aaahhhed over them.
“They are SO cute!” the one lady said and I smiled and thanked her.
“Why aren’t they dressed the same?” she asked.
“I don’t always dress them alike,” I shrugged.
“Well, they’d be cuter if they were dressed the same,” she replied.
I swear to Bob.
WHO says that?!
About a month after that, we were at the hardware store and this time, the twins were dressed exactly alike. Zander was pitching a fit because he was bored and didn’t want to be in the stroller anymore. An employee came up to see if we needed help and took notice of the boys.
“Well, what’s wrong with you, little guy?” he asked.
“He’s upset that he’s stuck in this lame stroller,” I smiled.
“No, I’m sure he’s mad that you dressed him exactly like his brother,” he said to me. Then, speaking as if he were Zander, said, “Mom, I’m my own person. Don’t dress me exactly like him!”
Seriously. I can’t win.
I absolutely know I’m not alone in this misery. So, what do you do when Mr. or Mrs. Perfect Parent tells you what you’re doing wrong in your parenting? Do you ever fight back or do you come from the Tribe of Smileandnod, too?
Lindsay Maddox is a Virgo who hates confrontation, but sometimes even she reaches her breaking point. When she isn’t daydreaming about kicking know-it-alls in their ovaries, she’s contributing to her blog Silly Mom Thoughts and posts each Monday to The Balancing Act Blogging Community. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter, too!