All The {GOOD} Moms Are Doing It

I am a product of the seventies. In fact, I’m so proud of the fact that I was born in the seventies when the devil-may-care attitude of parenting was triumphed above all others. Why? Because we were free. Freedom reigned in the seventies. Freedom to be, to live, to dwell, to drink, to eat, to act in whatever way we wanted. Without judgment or shame.

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Mommy shaming is so 2013, don’t ya think?  Social media has brought all of our mothering faults screaming to the forefront–to the point where we could all say we are *THE* worst mother ever. Don’t you feel that way?

When I grew up a birthday party consisted of the four food groups: Kool Aid(usually purple so that our face was stained for days), hot dogs(of no known meat origin), angel food cake(out of a box) with pink fluffy frosting and pop rocks. THAT was the epitome of birthday party success! No party bags for guests, no carefully crafted decorations or reserved party spaces. No, we ran and giggled and maybe played PintheTailontheDONKEY with REAL tacks!

*sigh*……the seventies were awesome.

No car seats. No seat belts. No helicopter parenting. No rules. Just a lot of love and joy.

I’ve done a lot of things in my parenting career that would likely have me jailed and my kids taken away. I’m not using hyperbole here. I’m dead serious. And I love my kids. I actually think I’m a GOOD mother. I have four kids who range from 14 to 20 and they’re all healthy and happy(well, as happy as teenagers can be at any given moment). But I did some stuff that, at the time, was what I felt was right in the moment but it would have been held to scrutiny and judgment. And I didn’t feel reckless or careless with my kids’ lives.

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But here we are in an age when it seems quite appropriate and expected to shame other parents into being as awesome as we are. Because clearly, *WE* are perfect and *THEY* are not so therefore *WE* must enlighten them to the error of their ways……or something like that.

Recently in our news there was a story of a mom in Winnipeg who was being charged with child abandonment for leaving her 6 year old home alone for 90 minutes. We can debate the appropriate age where children can be left alone for days but in every single case, the ONLY person who will be the best judge is the mom. Yes, there are moms who use poor judgment. Yes, there are bad moms. But you know what? The bad moms of the world likely measure up to less than 1% of all of the mothers who are just trying their best. They’re good moms.

I was babysitting at the age of 11. According to new laws that would be illegal. I was IN THE CARE OF SMALL CHILDREN at eleven years of age. Let that sink in.

My mom was a single mom. She would get someone to stay with us if she was going to be out for several hours the first year we moved into the city. She really didn’t need to. We were all quite capable and self sufficient. But in 1980, in **SCARY** Regina, SK she felt it necessary. We were 7, 9 and 10 years old. And for an hour or two we would have been fine. And we were.

My mom had to retrain herself and went to school in 1982.  She would take the bus everyday and we would walk to school. We would walk home at lunch and after school. ALONE. We cooked, cleaned, did our homework. ALONE. And we lived. Imagine that?! We lived. And we’re fine.

My mom would have been put in jail now.

The car seats we had when my babies were born were pretty basic. Two positions- up and down. Not much for adjusting the seat belts and no 3 point installation system. You didn’t need a book. Or a degree. Or a stop off at the local car seat inspection clinic. You put your baby in, and drove away.  If you post a pic on FB or Twitter now, of your baby in a car seat, there is more than a 78% chance that at least one  of your *mommy friends* will comment on how the harness is secured. It will be too tight, too loose, incorrect all together or they will be inboxing you suggesting you remove the photo in case social services is called. You know I’m right – remember the cute baby singing in her car seat and HALF THE COMMENTS were about her car seat being incorrectly installed???!!!

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I’m thankful for raising my babies in the FB free world where I actually nursed my babies IN A MOVING VEHICLE! *GASP*!

Don’t worry moms, your secrets are safe with me.

I know you leave your sleeping baby in the car while you go to the ATM.  I know you lock the doors and are well aware of the temperature inside and out.

I know you’re walking down the street to collect your wayward dog while your toddler plays in the living room. Unsupervised. I know.

I know you just spent 45 minutes weeding the garden while your preschoolers played with playdough, inside, in the kitchen, where there are knives and scary things. I know.

I know you’re having a bath while you’re reading this. And the door is closed. While your 3 preschoolers are watching a movie. I know.

I know that you’ve left a 3 year old unattended in the bath while you ran to make sure supper wasn’t burning. I know.

I know you’re considering leaving your 10 year old home with the 6 and 4 year old so you can run to the store. I know.

I know you’ve let too many kids jump on the trampoline while you watched one more episode of Downton Abbey before supper. I know.

I know that you’ve fed your kids Cheese Whiz and Cheetos and COKE all in the same day.  I know.

I know you’ve put ginger ale in your baby’s bottle because the puking all night is more than you can take and you just needed a break. I know.

I know you gave your baby Motrin last night even though she didn’t have a fever because you don’t know what else to do. I know.

I know you’re a good mom and you cry every day because you’re trying to do the right thing but someone always seems to be showing you up.

Stop.  Look at your kids. Do you love them? Do they love you? Do you make their favourite meal whenever you can just to see them smile? Do you sacrifice sleep and health and cleanliness just to keep the family ball rolling? You’re a good mom. And you’re in good company. Because *ALL* the good moms are doing it too.

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A Growing Intolerance for Children

Is it me, or are people in general becoming more intolerant of small children?  And not just small children, but moms with small children.

Perhaps it’s the *hide-behind-your-keyboard* syndrome of saying anything you want but I’m seeing a lot of posts on Facebook and Twitter especially from people who clearly think children should NOT be seen and definitely NOT heard.

Now, I’m old school and I like it when parents have control of their kids.  I’m the mom who has walked out of a grocery store with a full cart ready for the cashier when all hell broke loose and the animals left their cages.  I have told my kids I won’t put up with temper tantrums and ridiculous outbursts in stores or restaurants. In fact, there was a season in our lives where we rarely went out to eat because I fully believe the other patrons have a right to eat their meals in relative peace.

However, recently there have been a rash of reports and stories of restaurants implementing adult-only dinner hours or even some that are exclusively adult only restaurants.  I’m not saying I wouldn’t go there but this is a trend that may not be all that family friendly. (which is probably the point)  Of course, businesses have a right to cater to whomever they wish. And I’m all for the market deciding who wins and who loses.

But what about walking in malls? Or grocery shopping on Saturdays when it’s busy?  Or perhaps even home shows and exhibit halls?  Should there be a ban on any child under 7? Should strollers be banned? This is some of the complaining that I am seeing and hearing about.  People who don’t have children are becoming more vocal about their dislike of little people *ruining* their days off. They don’t want to go to parks and hear a wailing toddler. They don’t want to go to Starbucks and stand in line behind a mom with a baby on her hip. They don’t want to enter the bookstore if there’s a mom with a stroller heading in right in front of them.  And I find it all a little baffling.

Since when did children become enemies?  Perhaps these anti-child Debby-Downers have forgotten that they too, were once children.  Perhaps they have failed to see that children are our future. Maybe they don’t realize that if Mama doesn’t get to go to  the bookstore today, she might be housebound and depressed all week. And maybe they’re completely oblivious to the fact that small children don’t grow up to be well-behaved older children and teens unless they are given the opportunities and the freedom to be in all the big-people restaurants, stores and events.  A child doesn’t just wake up at the age of 12 and know how to act in public. They are taught. They are allowed to fail and they are given grace to learn from their mistakes and outbursts.

The tone of the conversation I was a part of yesterday on Twitter took direct aim at parents with double wide strollers out in public. Specifically, a crowded exhibit hall on the weekend apparently was the site of such strollers with too many people and some put-out show goers.  Some of the comments were directly bashing a parent’s choice to go out with their two little children to a place where “the kids couldn’t possibly be having fun.” And the “selfishness” of parents to not consider a crowded aisle and how inconvenient it was for the browsers.  First of all, if you haven’t had 2 little kids under 3 and haven’t been out with them for more than an hour, you probably aren’t the best judge of what is convenient.  As for the concept that 2 parents want to spend time out together at a SPRING HOME SHOW on a weekend after one of the longest, snowiest, coldest winters ever and take their kids with them as being wrong is frustrating and frankly, offensive. I remember a time when I had my first 2 (13 months apart) and they LOVED going out just to look at people and get a change of scenery. We didn’t have family where we lived and we couldn’t afford a sitter. And truthfully, we wanted to spend time with our kids out and about together. With Daddy working all week and me housebound, these were rare, fun occasions. We didn’t do it all the time. We didn’t assume we could go anywhere with our kids. We usually chose the roomy sidewalks of a park, a big mall or large department stores.  If an exhibit hall or showcase or event wants to limit the size of strollers or even ban them, I’m actually fine with that.  But if they haven’t, step aside. Mama is a-comin’.

I’m sure there are small strollers that are relatively cheap. I’m sure there are double income families who can afford 2 or 3 strollers.  We were not that family. Our stroller was a gift. And I used it through 4 children.Our first 2 were 13 months apart, then 2.5 years between #2 and #3 so we used it again. And then my last 2 were 20 months apart.   It was well worn out by the time I retired it.  We didn’t have family who could look after our kids whenever we wanted to go out and even if we did, I would still not dump my kids off every time I left the house.  I loved our double stroller and so did our kids. I could reach them both while still pushing(as opposed to a tandem where you simply can’t reach the front).

I’m all for a quiet dinner out. But I always give the mom and dad with toddlers  in the booth next to us a knowing smile and the encouragement they need to understand they’re not alone and “this too shall pass.”  Babies and toddlers grow up so fast and no, I don’t think they or we are entitled to go everywhere and do everything. I believe there is a time and a place for outings and most of the time, little ones are happier at home. However, to extract one incident and blow it up into a *double strollers should be banned or left for the dog park* philosophy is overkill and unfair to moms who simply want to have a day out with their family.

You know what’s annoying? The fact that I have pics of my kids in our fantastic double stroller and I can’t find a single one today! So here’s one off the ‘net which is identical to the one we had(except ours was circa 1996 with a brighter blue).  

Tell me-does this look like a threat to the peace and well-being of an afternoon stroll? I didn’t think so!