My neighbor and I were sitting outside talking yesterday about those leashes that some parents put on their kids (I use one with Lulu)...and I recalled being very judgmental when I saw parents in public - being "bad" parents - that was before I had kids.
You've seen them:
- The Mom who sits on the sidelines of the play-place at the mall, almost asleep, while Little Jimmy runs around the place making the other kids miserable;
- The Dad who is sitting at a table stuffing fries down Julie Mae's throat;
- The Mom AND Dad who are pushing Suzy and Johnny in a stroller and not even paying attention to where they are going (almost hitting other people).
Heck, you might have even BEEN that parent at one point or another...and that is OKAY! I didn't understand that concept before having children. I could only look at them and say to myself, "Good grief, I will NEVER be that parent...ever!"
Oh, was I wrong.
What I didn't understand was that Little Jimmy's mom has been dealing with her son's ADHD for days on end, with no break, no vacation, and no sleep. She has been doing everything she can to keep him occupied while trying to get him accustomed to socializing with other children. She hasn't done anything for herself in years because she isn't able to sit down...ever. She would love to take a nap while Little Jimmy naps - but his mind is so incredibly active that he can't take a nap during the day
What I couldn't have known is Julie Mae had refused to eat any real food for the last week. She has a new little sibling - who was back home with mom - and decided to only drink from her sippy cup, just like the baby. When her parents can get her to eat, it might be as much as a 1/2 piece of cheese or 1 chicken nugget. This is the first time that she has had any interest in eating solid food - so dad jumped at the chance and bought her a large order of fries.
What I failed to notice about Suzy and Johnny was that they are twins. The joy of having children was multiplied by 2 for this family...and with 2 children comes 2 times the work. Mom and Dad haven't slept in weeks because as soon as one baby calms down - the other gets all revved up. They both get fed at the same time, and get changed at the same time, and skip naps at the same time, and scream at the same time. Both are colic-y, so neither parent has had a wink of sleep - literally - for months. This is the first time they've all ventured out of the house and the mall seemed like a great choice. Unfortunately their lack of sleep means they can't focus as well as I could - without kids.
I get it now and I feel their pain.
I see the looks I get when Lulu is running around like a crazy girl - I know I' m being judged when I buy 2 large fries at McDonald's (oh my gawd - is she going eat all that herself?!) - and when I raise my voice on occasion while Bubba screams in my ear, I can only imagine what Single Sally Homemaker is whispering to her girlfriends...
The one thing that I don't do anymore - is jump to a judgmental conclusion...because I have been there...and now, I understand.