I do. I know I’m not supposed to worry about what people—particularly strangers in the grocery store or mompetitors at the park— think of me as a mom but one of my fatal flaws is that I care about how others view me. And striving to do an above-average job at whatever I choose to do is part of my DNA. I suppose there are worse qualities to have, but this little quirk creates a perfect storm of anxiety when it comes to parenting….
I used to obsess about it—I always felt the need to explain away any sub-par displays (“oh, her dad dressed her that’s why she doesn’t match” or “she’s never melted down like this before I swear” or the classic: “this is his first hotdog ever!”) but now I try to see the humor in it. Here’s what I’m pretty sure people have said about me recently, good, bad and ugly:
"Do you think she ever brushes that girl’s hair?" (I try, I swear, but Nora is very dreadlock-prone)
"Boy, does she have her hands full with those two!" (this is true)
"What beautiful children." (also true)
"Do you think she ever brushes her own hair?" (when I blow it out I do, otherwise, not so much)
"Is she pregnant?" (when I forget to hold in my stomach—and not true)
"I can’t believe she’s letting them eat that?!" (I have a tendency to grab any sweet I can find when I’m in panic-parenting mode, like on the grocery line, so despite the fact that I may have a cart full of organic veggies and antibiotic-free meats, I will probably be shoveling sour patch gummy worms into my kids’ mouths to shut them up)
"Wow, she must be a fantastic mother." (when my kids are using their manners and showing off their charming personalities)
"Wow, she must be a terrible mother." (when those very same kids are smacking me or saying shit or showcasing the evil side of their personalities. Or eating sour patch gummy worms)
"She sure talks a lot about wine." (I do. It makes me almost as happy to talk about it as it does to drink it)
"Do you think she ever makes his lunch?" (this one would come from my friend’s husband who has seen me in the bagel store three times in the last week picking up an everything with scallion cream cheese for Alex’s lunchbox. Fortunately he does not seem like a judger.)
What do you think people say behind your back—good, bad and ugly? And do you care? Please tell me I’m not the only one who goes home from a bad trip to Kohl’s wondering what the woman in line with me is telling her friends about the awful children and the candy-pushing mom she got stuck behind.