Never judge someone without knowing the whole story. You may think you understand, but you don't.
I saw her in Walmart a few weeks ago. You know who I'm talking about. The woman who brings in her three half naked kids jumping from the shopping cart and running around. The youngest is up front drinking soda from a baby bottle.
I roll my eyes. I think my mental thoughts and buy my organic fruit. As I'm walking by other women start whispering and pointing at her. A few snide comments are said and titters follow. The woman walks by. I KNOW she's heard. She tries to keep her head up but I see it. Tears.
A few aisles later I run over her son. Literally. Because I pay attention (insert eye roll). He's O.K. He had opened a box of cereal and was happily eating it. My son and I happen to have an affinity for that magical leprechaun and his marshmallows as well. I apologize to mom for trying to take her child out. I smile and tell her that we are addicted to that cereal as well. We talk. She's a single mom working three jobs. She's trying to buy food at the only time she has available. Her kids are tired, she's tired, and all she wants to do is be at home in bed with her laptop (did I mention she's going to school so she can provide a better life for her kids?).
I'm not telling this story to show what a paragon of humanity I am. Believe me, I'm not. Recently there have been a wild fire of stories passed around social media. Stories that make you stay awake at night and think over all your life and parenting choices.
When did it become OK? When did finger pointing become OK? It's been around, that's for sure. Spank them, don't spank them. Send them to time out, no wait, don't do that! Did you try an organic supplemental diet? How about making sure they get this? Use sunscreen, no wait don't use THAT sunscreen! Use TV, nope don't use TV. Computers help them learn, NO TECHNOLOGY IS OF SATAN!!!
Do you have a headache yet? Are you questioning every choice you've ever made? Are you going back and questioning every choice your parents made, because after all, it's probably their fault and there are about 40 articles that prove it. I mean, if it's on the internet it's probably true, right?
STOP!!!!! BREATHE!!!! Listen to me.
Yes you can spend your life feeling like crap. You can go to bed at night and worry that you are screwing up your kids. There are plenty of articles that will tell you that one. I can list at least half a dozen on how my kids are going to be awful. I don't spend enough quality time with them. We don't go outside enough. I let my son watch TV. I let my daughter have her IPad. We ate marshmallow cereal for dinner last week. My daughter loves sweet tea and right now it's the ONLY oral liquid she will take. So guess what she's been buzzing on? So as you can tell my kids are on the way to a life of hard crime and cavities because of the lifestyle we lead.
I used to feel bad. But now I feel something else. Angry. Because it's not OK. It's not OK to sit on your high hat. I wish the writers would spend less time on those pieces of trash and more time looking at ways they can help out these "fallen women" (I'm open to laundry service and hot meals). At the end of the day I'm doing the very best I can. Am I going to fall short, yes? Am I going to mess up? Yes. Am I going to push through and keep trying? Yes.
Guess what else? You are doing the best you can to. You are a good parent. You don't need parent shaming articles to make you feel bad. You are human and you are trying hard. The people who are closest to you can see that. And sometimes when the world isn't running over your kid in Walmart they can see it too.
What we need is less on what we are doing wrong and more on grace. Give yourself grace. You have a tough job. There is no book, TV show, article, psychic, or expert that knows those tiny people better than you. Remember that and give yourself the grace you deserve. Rest refuel, and get back up in the saddle and try again. You are a good parent. You can do this. I believe in you.