Taking Back Those Judgy Parenting Thoughts

There’s nothing like having a baby to make you question all the judgmental thoughts you’ve ever had about parents. I think I’ve spent a significant part of the last year and half retracting – outwardly and internally – judgments I’ve made about people and their kids. Traveling for a week in New York City somehow brought these thoughts into sharper focus.

I take it all back. I’m very very very very very very sorry. Please karma, you don’t need to come around for me. I’m embarrassed – no, horrified – to admit I ever thought this way. Here are some judgy-wudgy thoughts that I take back, delete, repent of, erase and throw away forever:

1. People Who Use Children’s Leashes are Inhumane Monsters
I used to glare at people who used leashes on their children with deep disgust. How humiliating and dehumanizing, I would never do that. Just keep up with your kid; how hard can that be?

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

After about ten million heart attacks in the subway/street/park when Carter waddle-ran a little too close to the edge or a little too far away in the crowd, Andy and I kept him strapped into his stroller for the better part of our NYC trip. Carter would rather be running around, but we didn’t want him to get lost/hurt/injured/kidnapped/run over/smooshed…It was super stressful and tiring running after the little dude. Is keeping Boogie strapped into a stroller better than putting him on a leash?

At least on a leash he’d be able to run around.

I still don’t think I’d ever use a leash. But, the thought crossed my mind. I get it now. And I’m sorry I ever judged anyone for using one.

2. Babies Crying on the Plane. Can’t you Get Your Kid Under Control?
Um. Sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry. File this one right next to, “Can’t You Get Your Kid to Stop Kicking My Chair?” Sorry sorry sorry! I take it baaack!

No one is more unhappy or more distressed about the crying plane child than the child or the parents of said child. Period. No one wants the baby to calm down and feel better than his parents. And, when the crying child is kicking and screaming and generally being a hot mess, I’ve learned a little empathy or a high-five-for-braving-travel-with-child is maybe a more appropriate response than an eye roll. And besides, what are parents supposed to do, hop on a private plane? Road trip cross-country?

3. Parents Who Change Kids’ Diapers in Public are Disgusting
I started changing Carter on my brother’s couch one day, and he turned to me to ask disgustedly, “Uh, are you seriously going to change him on my couch???” Apparently this is gross?

Mid-diaper change in Central Park. Hard enough to find a bathroom, let alone a changing table!

Since Carter, my threshold of gross has gone through the roof. Nothing phases me now. Poop on my hand? Eh, a little soap will wash it off. Barf on my face? Wet wipe that mug. Boogers? Oh, I’ll get them with my finger. Or they can slowly dribble down until I find a cloth…later. Pee? A little pee never hurt anyone, keep that onsie on a little longer, it matches better than the ugly backup t-shirt.

As for public changing, I say if you don’t want me to change him in public, install some more changing tables! Especially in restaurants! And men’s bathrooms! It is incredibly hard to find changing tables in public places, and given the choice between wandering around forever looking for one that may or may not exist, I’d rather change the diaper in two minutes right over there on that bench, thank you very much.

4. Why Did You Bring Your Kid to the [Insert Type of Public Place] if S/he is Going To Freak Out? 
I’d like to think that I’ve never looked sideways at the father or mother of a child having a complete melt-down in some public place. That I only thought happy, supportive thoughts to buoy that poor parent in her time of need. But, it’s simply not true.

What was I thinking?? That small children shouldn’t be taken out in public until they can be seen and not heard? That parents of said small children should be quarantined in their homes forever until their children develop a perfect sense of logic, self and social awareness?

I’ve learned that trips outside the home with small children are both sanity-savers and crazy-makers. Now, when I see anyone with one or more small children in tow, I think, More power to you, you brave, courageous soul! I know it took you 45 minutes to run around the house to pack the diapers, bottles, toys, books, clothes, snacks, wipes and shoes. Then another trip back into the house to grab all the stuff you forgot. Plus the constant stress of splitting your brain in half: one half to do whatever it is you left the house to do – buy groceries, play at the park, return books at the library – and one half tending to the needs and safety of your little humans. I’m amazed that you are fully dressed and wearing shoes! You deserve a medal!

5. Why Are You Letting Everyone Else Take Care of Your Kid?
Sometimes, in big groups, I’d watch parents sit back and let all the other adults take care of their children. And I would wonder, Isn’t that your job?

I love love love love love my little Booger more than anything in the world. Spending time with him (and Andy!) is the joy of my life. But sometimes, breaks are nice. Super super nice. They don’t come often. If there is someone willing to run around after Carter I will take the opportunity in a heartbeat!

I’m grateful to every kind person who has whispered to me, Don’t worry, I’ve been there. Thankful for the sweet strangers who have offered me help. Filled with love for those who have held and played with Carter; smiled at him and waved when he trips down the airplane aisle; or who have laughed when he tries to grab their phones.

And to all those judgy-wudgy jerkfaces like me of yesteryear? I say, if you’re lucky, your time will come. Until then, turn those little glaring eyeballs elsewhere!

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