When I was in social work, I worked with dual diagnosis moms and their kids. Often this meant, helping plan the kids’ birthday parties. There were set-aside funds for this so I would collaborate with the mom for party planning. One time, one mom begged me, “Please Jamie, can you get real Coke for the party?” It was a 3 year old’s party. My clients were often grossly undereducated about nutrition. I was about to launch into a nutritional dialogue about soda and toddlers when she went on, “When I was a kid we only ever got watered down kool-aid or the no-name brand soda.” I paused. This mom had been in over-her-head poverty since SHE came into the world.
She wasn’t asking me for soda.
She was asking me to help give the very best to her child, for the party.
I know another mom. Her house is a veritable Disney museum. With pride, she lets her child watch every Disney movie on repeat. All the time. She regularly buys Disney memorabilia and when I say her house is absolutely cluttered with this stuff, I’m not joking. My first thought was judgement…her giving into the blatant consumerism. Then I stepped back and thought…she’s really trying to give her child what she thinks is a magical childhood. Do I think it’s misguided? Yep. But can I deny that she loves her kid and wants the best for her? Nope.
We as parents need to get to a place of realizing EVERYONE, however misguided, wants the best for their kids. They love THEIR kid just as much as you love YOUR kid. I know that seems impossible but it’s true.
And then of course, we have the other kind of mom.
The moms who humble-brag or who seem intent on making their parenting more special (and harder OR easier) than yours. The ones who make snide comments about your kids’ screen time or eating. The ones who make snide comments about your potty training. You know who I’m talking about. They are everywhere. They seem to know it all and have clean houses and the patience of angels and the crafting skills of Martha Stewart. They have the wrong assumption that broadcasting their organic, veggie-eating, Pinterest crafting, beautiful-shiny-posts-about-what-good-parents-they-are, how-angelic-their-child-is…they have the wrong assumption this will guarantee a better human being in the end.
One of my best friends has a trick. Mostly for her mother-in-law, who aggravates the hell out of her. She blesses them. She blesses people who irritate her. Sometimes it’s a bit of a joke but mostly, it’s a real conscious; I’m going to turn this around in my head.
I suggest we start blessing the sanctimonious moms.
If you think about it…to have to broadcast so loudly and with such judgement indicates a huge amount of self-doubt.
So let’s bless them. Instead of snarking back, even in our heads, let’s bless them in our heads instead.
In our hearts.
Because every parent, everywhere, with little exception is really, truly trying to give their child the very best.