This post was inspired by this other post from over there. I hate being judged as a mother. Motherhood has also taught me to stop judging other mothers. Before I became a mother I would see little toddlers throwing tantrums in the supermarket and think if that kid’s mother disciplined him well he wouldn’t be acting out. Fast forward and my little girl will occasionally throw a mega temper tantrum in public because she wants to stand in the shopping cart and pull stuff off the shelves and throw them on the floor and I won’t let her. It is embarrassing for myself and annoying to other customers, but I can’t let her run wild. I had to choose between the lesser of two evils. If I let her do what she wants I will still be judged as a bad mother. The only women who don’t judge me are the ones with children the same age as my daughter, they pass by and smile or laugh and sometimes even tell me it will pass and she will grow up and stop doing that, exactly the same way I treat other mothers when I see them helplessly trying to deal with an angry toddler. Toddlers are little energizer bunnies with mood swings and chocolate highs. Which is why I limit her chocolate intake. It is like there is always someone around who thinks you can be doing a better job and has to tell you about it. Give her a banana, she should eat more meat, she should drink more milk, she should wear a coat, she’s hungry, she’s thirsty, tell her to sleep (like I could do that) and the list goes on for ever. It is even more annoying when the advice is coming from a man. No offense to the guys, but most of them really have no idea. Like food for example, I have a very stubborn and obstinate daughter, she will not eat when she’s not hungry and she will not wait for food when she’s hungry. If she’s hungry she will tell me and insist on eating NOW and she usually will ask for something specific. I don’t mind. I really don’t care what she eats and in what order as long as through out the day she gets her nutrients and enough caloric intake. I mean who cares if she eats the pasta on its own first, then the chicken and then munches on the vegetables as a snack later in the evening. We were once out for lunch and my daughter decided to eat all of the cucumber slices she could find first to the horror of our friends who kept saying she should eat the carbs and proteins first. I agree, in a perfect world she should, but in my world she can eat in whichever order she pleases as long as she eats a hearty, healthy and nutritious meal. Like this morning for example, she woke up and asked for cheese then cereal. Other days she will whine for a scrambled egg. My own personal belief is that even though I am the mother and somewhat in charge, she is still a little teeny tiny person with her own set of taste buds and cravings.
Finding your own parenting style is difficult, but unless you find something you really are comfortable with you will just confuse your kid and end up feeling exhausted and unhappy most of the time. When I was pregnant I had these illusions of being a strict disciplinarian. When she decided to pop out I realized I was totally kidding myself. I am not very high on self discipline myself so how can I suddenly snap my fingers and become the icon of self discipline. I am on the other hand mellow, relaxed and somewhat patient so I kept trying different things until I found a style that fit. I let her be, and let her do what she wants on her own time as long as it is not dangerous. Once her safety is at stake I put my foot down and do it firmly and quietly. This has resulted in having to clean more than the stricter mother. I’ve had to wash carpets, floors, clothes and sometimes the walls because of little experiments gone bad, but my guess is that because she gets to try stuff for herself once she is told not to do something and is given an alternative she is usually responsive. Again, I am not advocating any style I am just saying that this is what works for me.
Some things were a struggle at first, like buckling her into the car seat. She would kick and scream, but since her safety is more important than a couple of minutes of kicking and screaming I insisted and she stopped resisting. She has figured out how to free her arms from its confines though. She’s a little budding Houdini. Sometimes when I have friends with me in the car they’ll say that they can take her out of it and have her sit on their laps but I always say no, I am proud of my mini accomplishment of taming my toddler into understanding some of the constraints of life and don’t want to be inconsistent.
My husband will sometimes question my methods or ideas, but he has given me the freedom to do what I believe is best for her and is supportive most of the time. The other time is when she’s daddy’s little girl and has him wrapped around her little pinkie. Those times are when she will sit on his lap and make him feed her chocolate or will make him change the channel while he’s watching a serious show so that she can watch Curious George. Sometimes he is more patient than I am when I have had a long day and am tired and will cuddle her to sleep and sometimes when he has had a long an exhausting day he can’t handle her whining so he becomes a tougher disciplinarian but not for long usually because he’s just a huge softie inside. But to be honest even when he criticizes my ways or points out what I am doing wrong I don’t like it. No mother wants to be told that what she is doing is not the best for her child.
So my advice is this, when you see a frazzled mother instead of pointing the finger ask if she needs help, because she just might say she does and please if she asks for something specific bite your tongue and try to do what she wants instead of doing what you think she should have asked for. Honestly, most moms can figure out the best way to do things on their own, they just need to learn the ropes on their own so they can be confident enough while they are using them. And maybe once she has relaxed she might ask for your advice and maybe she might take it and try to implement it her way.