…been one of those days, huh? Seemed like everytime you turned around there was a fight to break up, a toddler clinging to your knees, spit up on the floor, poop on the dog… Dishes were stacked and still stacking as you finally managed to get everyone fed (except yourself) and you were gearing up for another round of diaper changing when your eldest managed to get his arm stuck in a piece of furniture. You extracted that and kissed your “tough” little eight year old as you applied the appropriate bandaids, while your toddler managed to get the diaper off herself and your middle child kept a non stop running commentary about everything that was happening.
Somehow, you don’t really remember how, you made it through the morning until the toddler went down for her nap and you only had to break up the escalating squabbles between your oldest two over a toy that neither had touched for over a month. You refereed, you played make believe, you watched your son race his cars across the back of the coach for the umpteenth time and cheered him on…again… All the while you’re planning lunch, sorting laundry, trying to make cleaning up “FUN!” for your 5 year old daughter-she isn’t buying it by the way. When the toddler wakes up and everyone is fed and clothed and diapered and pottied you head to the park; you’ve got to get out of the disaster that is your own house.
Once your kids are all safely ensconced on the swing set and your eight year old is happily hanging off the monkey bars, you see the smiles all around and for two seconds you relax. You take a deep breath. And in that two seconds you take out your phone and you check facebook, or instagram, or your email, or your text messages. You unwind. You remind yourself there are adults out there that don’t need their noses wiped or diapers changed. Who can talk about more than Dora the Explorer or Thomas the Tank Engine. There is a world out there bigger than you, with other things happening in it, and for a few moments you can remind yourself that you, too, are an adult. You, too, have interests and desires and needs. You glance up every few seconds to do a perimeter check and make sure everyone is still smiling, but you take those few moments for yourself.
What you don’t realize, is someone is watching you, judging you, and condemning you. They’re labeling you as a horrible mom. A distant mom. A mom who is missing out on the lives of her children. They’re “saddened” by your not seeing the grin of your eight year old as he make sit across the monkey bars on his own. They’re “heart broken” by you missing out on the cackles of your three year old who is being helpfully pushed in her tot swing by her five year old sister. Bad mom, bad mom, bad mom.
As a fellow mom, let me offer you a sincere apology for the judgement of others. The truth is, the DON’T know your life. They don’t know you, or your children, or what you are going through in that exact moment. They’re quick to point fingers and blast you across social media, but the truth is they’re wrong to do so. Wrong, wrong, wrong.
I have a one year old son and another baby on the way, and I will unashamedly say I am not “present” 100% of the time with my son. I can’t be. But I do my absolute best to make sure that I am engaged faithfully, and fully, and joyfully, everyday. You know what that means? It means I check my phone-or the equivalent since I can’t check my phone without Cade wanting to eat it. It means he’s hanging around my knees fake crying while I’m doing the dishes and I wash another dish before picking him up. It means I give him a cracker and while he is happily occupied munching I close my eyes for thirty seconds and check out. It means when he whacks me in the face with a toy hard enough to bust my lip I stand up, leave the room, and find something-ANYTHING-else to do for a few seconds.
I encourage other moms to do the same-or whatever works -to maintain your own sanity. To keep yourself from spiraling into a miserable depression, to keep yourself from being so focused on your children you lose yourself. I get frustrated, and tired, and close to tears if I don’t have time to unwind. And that translates DIRECTLY onto how I interact with my son. My mood is critical to the health and well being of my child. I take those little breaks throughout the day because it allows me to be happy, and patient, and calm the rest of the time I’m with him. Most importantly, it means I can enjoy all those moments of cuteness that I witness.
You will know heartache when your toddler does something adorable and you are so emotionally, physically, and mentally exhausted you want to cry because you can’t bring yourself to smile. It is one of the worst feelings of the world, and I’ve been there. And I bet other moms have been there, too.
So I don’t care if you are a mom of eight with 24 grandchildren, you have NO RIGHT to judge ANY mom. I am going to ask you politely, and respectfully, to keep your mouth closed and your heart open. And this goes ALSO to the general public, who with or without children, also have ZERO right to be judgemental because you don’t know. And honestly, Christians, what gives? You, of ALL people, should know better. Love, encourage, uplift-even if you feel like someone is in the wrong-leave judgement to the Lord because He is the ONLY one who really knows. You. Do. Not.
**So it must be something in the air, because I’ve recently stumbled across several other articles on “mommy wars.” Here’s two I appreciated 🙂