Before we had our son, I thought I knew everything about raising kids and that I was prepared. I was a know-it-all. I had all the answers. I felt like I was at the top of that game. I thought since I had a background in psychology, I am an aunt, I have friends with kids, and I work with kids that I was set. “I’ve got this”. I’m great with kids and kids take to me. I’m approachable and fun. “I’ve got this”. Sure you do Karen, sure you do.
Truth is, I did not “have this”. Mrs. Know-it-all quickly became Mrs. I’m-sorry-I-was-an-ass-and-judged-you very quickly after I had my son. It wasn’t long after I gave birth that I apologized to all my friends and my sister. I told them I was sorry if I ever made them feel judged or if I was ever unsupportive, because I was sure I had at one point or another. They were good about it and all of them gave me a pass.
The saying is true: you never know what it’s like until you’re there. Once I was inside the motherhood bubble, I had a huge A-HA! moment that was accompanied by tears and anxiety and I could now see things through the motherhood looking-glass.
If anything, my degree and my experience working with children and youth harmed me more than it helped me because it made me cocky. It made me think I had all the answers. I look back on that woman and think: you’re such an ass. Yes, my studies and experiences help me when I’m observing behaviours and development, but they certainly do not provide me with the answers on how to raise a child. Parenting is not something that you learn from a book despite the millions of books out there that tell you how to parent and what you’re doing wrong. My mother laughed at me, and rightfully so. These books weren’t around when I was a kid and my parents did quite all right (if I do say so myself), as did the millions of other parents who had children before parenting books were a “thing”.
I used to look at moms and think, wow, I’ll never do that: I will never resort to bribing my kid. I will never be that mom who gives in. I will not be that mom who doesn’t follow through. Truth is, I’ve done all these things and it didn’t take me long to get to that point because I now wear the mom-glasses. The glasses give me the ability to understand how hard it is to work with your own child and keep sane. I’m embarrassed to admit that I mom-shamed the best of moms who were just trying to get by the best way they could (again, I’m an ex-ass).
When I bribe my son, it’s because he’s refused to do something I’ve asked a million times and bribing seems to clear his ears and help his comprehension. When I give into his madness it’s because we’re out and it helps me avoid an over-the-top meltdown in public because no one likes having that kid. The times that I don’t follow through with a threat are when I’m just too tired to care. Sometimes the fight just isn’t worth it. There are days when he watches too much television and has pancakes twice in one day. I’ve learned that sometimes “whatever works” is the way to go.
I feel badly for the things I’ve said, the looks I’ve given, and the times I judged. It’s so easy to pass judgement when you don’t have anything to fall back on. Now that I’m a parent, I realize my mistake and I do my best to keep my comments to myself, knowing that these moms are parenting the best way they see fit. Whether I co-sleep, breastfeed, baby-wear or not shouldn’t be of any importance. The only thing that should matter is that I love my child and hope to raise him to be kind and compassionate.
So again, I’m sorry I judged you.
*Post also appeared on Tova Leigh
For more on Parenting, visit: The One Where Bernadette Has the Baby-Blues