In the last couple of weeks a blog post has been circulating around concerning one man, a blogger, who watched another father not be very nice to a child. He condemned the man, saying the man "Broke his child." His post was moving, and in many ways right on but I didn't react the way that others did. Why? Because about ten minutes before I read the article, I had yelled at Beastie C after a really long, hard day for her. Unlike most of the people I knew, when I got done the article, I thought "Congratulations asshole on making another parent feel like a big fat fail."
You see I could relate to the father who was not being overly nice. After shopping with four kids, who are alternately screaming for everything they see, sobbing to be breastfeed right.now, and beating on each other because "She looked at me weird!" I get a little snappy by the time time we hit the check out. I'm sure there have been many a parent who looked at me snarling at beautiful innocent Beastie P and thought "Oh my god that woman should have gotten a license to have a child." I'm sure that people thought "Oh my god she's breaking those poor babies. Someone take them away."
And here's the thing, if you're spying on me in a micro second of my life, you miss all the other things. You miss the parks where I am laying on the gross covered in beasties laughing and playing. You're missing me at 4 am holding my baby boy as he seizes. You're missing me sitting with Beastie C and reading with her at 2 am because she can't sleep. You'll miss the lovely nursing sessions with Baby Beastie. You don't see me walking down the road holding hands with Beastie P. You don't see the cooking, cleaning, and lesson preparation that goes into making their lives happier and smoother. No, what you see in your tiny spying moment is GreenTeaGinger being a utter and total bitch to her children. Because she's tired. She hasn't spoken to another adult in over eight hours. People have given her dirty looks when her child has shoved against them. No one has said in a while "Good job mama." Instead there's you. At the counter. With your one FUCKING child. You and your judgment which is already being formulated into a blog post. A blog post that thousands of mamas will love and share. And there will be an equal number who hate it. There will also be a number, who like me secretly feel for the other dad.
I'm not advocating that we yell at our children. But I am advocating that maybe as parents we need to be more honest. Perhaps there are many of you who don't ever do anything wrong in your parenting. I applaud you and perhaps we should leave the breeding to you. But I suspect that there are many more who, like me, sometimes fail. Sometimes we yell or say mean things. Sometimes we really don't like our kids because they're being awful (I always love them but I don't always like them). You know what I think? I don't think we're breaking them. Breaking is something that happens over time. When I yell at my kids a few times a week they are not broken. Trust me. Kids are more resilient than we give them credit for. I am one who believes firmly in apologizing to my children. When I yell, I wait until I'm calm and then I hold them and apologize. I explain to them why I yelled. We have a talk and then they're off into the next thing.
Those who know me know that my kids do not fear me. They love me as fiercely as I love them. But those who know me know this because they weren't spying on me at the local grocery store.