Here's the thing.
I love my kids. I really do. I'm not just saying that.
Have I convinced you yet? Good.
Because sometimes they turn me into a monster.
Remember when you were childless and you stood behind that mom in the checkout line — the mom who raised her voice or used that tone; the mom who you knew was royally messing up her kids, all because poor Junior snuck a candy bar off the shelf?
Remember when you judged her under your breath, or exchanged glances with the cashier? No? Well, either you're lying, or thou needs to go get thine angel wings on a different planet in a different galaxy far, far away from the rest of us.
See, I am that mom now. No, I don't abuse my kids (although I'm obviously prepping them for therapy). Yes, I give them hugs, tell them I love them, play with them, read to them...
But sometimes, I'm Mama Kim Jong-Il. And if I'm PMS-ing, I'm Mama KJI on steroids. It ain't pretty.
Last week, Bean whined the entire time during a shopping excursion. And put her mouth on the shopping cart handle. The first time she put her mouth on it, I said, "[Bean], please don't do that, it's dirty." The second time she did it, I repeated myself. The third time... You get the picture. Finally I warned her that if she didn't stop, we weren't going to storytime at the bookstore. By the time we reached the checkout line, I believe it was QUITE APPARENT THAT I DID NOT WANT HER TO PUT HER MOUTH ON THE HANDLE.
I paid and turned around to find Bean with mouth on handle, gnawing away like she was trying to get to the center of a damn Tootsie Pop.
"BEAN!" I grabbed the handle and her head snapped back. I gritted my teeth, and took a deep breath. "That's it, we're going home." Then I turned and noticed a young man giving me THAT LOOK.
I went home, fed the kids lunch, put them down for naps, and cried.
Not to make excuses, but we had just moved from Boston to Chicago, the kids had not been sleeping well, and I was flat-out exhausted. As was Bean, I learned, when she fell asleep approximately one minute into our car ride home from the store.
It's hard not to get defensive when you know people judge your parenting. I'm lucky enough to have friends who may parent differently than I, but never judge...or if they do, they keep it to themselves. In public, however, judgments are expressed on faces. And it's tough not to get wrapped up in it.
Still, I try not to self-loathe too much for my Mama KJI moments. That afternoon, I hugged Bean, told her I loved her, apologized, and she seemed not at all fazed by it (oh, to be 3 and able to forgive so easily!). According to experts, though, girlfriend now officially has "issues" and will channel this at age 26 when she tries to understand her constant desire to lick other people's hands.
Here's what gets me: I go online. I read blogs by moms who are in glitter-hearted-love with their kids. Constantly. So now, while I can't judge the angry moms like I used to, I have to try not to judge the happy-happy moms either. Because... really? You always love your kids that much?
No, you don't have to tell me about every bad moment you have with your kid(s) so I can feel better about myself, but please. That's just rude not to share once in awhile. Didn't your mama teach you to share?
Maybe it is just me. Maybe I do deserve those looks. (Actually, I suspect I just need a spa vacation.)
To all you moms to whom I once gave THAT LOOK: I need to apologize. I now know what it's like. After little sleep and many lectures about the benefits of sleep to non-sleeping kids, mama just ain't right anymore.
And to the happy-happy mom in heart-shaped lurv with your kids: I won't judge you, but I will wonder what the hell you're hiding. Because I'm insecure. I'm just saying. And I'm jealous that your life is perfect. Oh, and I'll probably talk behind your cyber-back... Hey, I'm a work-in-progress!
Still, it would be a whole lot easier if you would just tell me something I don't want to hear. Please?