I remember before I had my daughter, I had these preconceived notions about what it entails to be a mother and exactly how parents should parent their kids. I remember being in restaurants and listening to the children at the other table yelling and crying and much to my chagrin, their parents weren’t able to quiet them. I thought to myself, “When I have kids, they will be so behaved. They will listen to whatever I say and do what I tell them to.” I continue to eat my words. I have experienced the other side of my pre-child criticisms.
For example, I take my daughter to daycare and drop her off when it opens at 7. That means we are awake at 6 am. Her daycare gives her breakfast at 8:30 so from the time she wakes up to the time she receives her breakfast is 2 1/2 hours. Its a long time to go without some sort of food. We are out of the house by 6:30, so I will give her juice and a small snack ie. a piece of toast, a small bowl of cereal, etc. Bring on the non-mom advice. One day, we were on the bus heading to daycare and my daughter was eating a 1/3 cup of Fruit Loops. A woman sitting across from us kept scoffing under her breath and giving me the nastiest look. I simply turned my head and continue to mind my own business. Then I hear this;
“Do you know what you are feeding your child?” She growls at me.
“You should be ashamed of yourself. What you are feeding your child is disgusting.” At this point, her well vocalized opinion has begun to attract the attention of the other riders on the bus.
“Oh ok then,” I reply plainly. “What do you feed your children?”
It takes her a moment to answer. “I don’t have children.”
Ah ha! The truth comes out.
“Well then, at the daycare you work at, what do you give them to eat?” I ask.
“I don’t work at a daycare.” She begins to lower her voice and shift her body into a much less authoritative stance.
“Oh, hmm. So what you are saying is that you have no experience feeding children whatsoever?” Zing!!
The woman says not a word more and turns herself away from me and refuses to make any further eye contact. My daughter eats Corn Bran, Raisin Bran, Rice Krispies, whole grain toast, yogurt, eggs and oatmeal for breakfast, so while Fruit Loops is not exactly the most nutritious cereal there is, it is not so bad once in a while for a treat. I only give her the little bowl of something to fill her belly until her breakfast comes at daycare. Forgive me for being a bad mother for giving my daughter cereal so that she didn’t go hungry. SHAME ON ME!!
It’s unfortunate that as mother’s that we are constantly subjected to outside opinions on how to raise our children. Being a mother is hard enough without the ridicule and opinions of others, many of whom haven’t stepped one foot in our shoes. I didn’t know before having my daughter what it felt like to only have 10 hours of sleep in 7 days. What it feels like to be constantly worrying about another human beings well being, development, growth and mental psyche every moment of every day. I did not know the frustration a parent feels when their kid simply refuses to eat or fights you when you are trying to potty train them. I did not know about the public grocery store meltdowns when you refuse to buy their favourite cookies.
So for all you people out there about to make an opinion on how mothers should parent their children, remind yourself of this; We are mothers, giver’s of life, maids, security guards, chaperones, chauffeurs, personal bank accounts, chefs, therapists, referees, teachers, wives, friends, alarm clocks, laundry service, entertainers. We do not get sick days. We do not get paid or receive vacations. We are on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for the rest of our lives. We choose to be mothers, but do not proceed to tell us how to raise our children. In our heart of hearts, only we know what is truly best for our children. We don’t tell you how to live your life, so return the favour. We are simply doing the best we know how.