Dear Moms and Dads of the World, I want you to know that I am guilty. Guilty of judging you and your parenting choices. Before having my own kids, it was easy to look at a situation and say, “I will never do that.” Well, I have kids now and let me just say, I do all of the things I said I would never do. Guilty. Yep. I definitely am.
Riley has officially entered the terrible twos. Everything and anything can be a challenge, one that usually ends in a full-blown tantrum. The girl has skills and her fake tears are spot on. If I was an acting coach, I’d be pretty damn impressed. But… I’m not, and having to navigate the minefield that is toddlerhood can be downright exhausting. Who knew that a little person could get so upset because you peeled her banana all the way, capped her milk when she wanted to do it, opened her yogurt for her, or god forbid asked her to hold your hand instead of playing in oncoming traffic.
Sometimes, you have to give in. Sometimes, you take the easy route. Sometimes you do things you said you would never do. For me, these are those things.
1. Let Riley play with my iPhone when we are out to dinner. Yep, I used to look at parents and be like “that is so sad, dinner should be a time for the kids to engage and be present in what is going on around them.”
I still believe this, but I also think that parents deserve five minutes to enjoy a beer or have a conversation with other adults. I absolutely adore being with my children, but yes, I do enjoy talking about things that do not include poop, play-dough, or the question “why” repeated over and over again. So yes, I give Riley my iPhone at dinner. It keeps her calm and quiet for 10 minutes and allows me to enjoy other people’s company or suck down an adult beverage without having to rescue the waiter from flying goldfish, asking Riley to sit on her bottom for the 100th time, or picking up sugar packets off of the floor. It is a win-win in my opinion.
2. Respond to questions with, “because I said so.” I still hate this phrase, but there are times when this is the only option left. Riley and I have the same conversation every day in the car. I’m not exaggerating, it happens every single day. It starts like this:
Riley deliberately drops her blanket on the floor.
R: Momma get it.
Me: No, Momma can’t get it right now she is driving.
Me: Because, it isn’t safe.
Me: Because I am driving and I need to keep my eyes on the road.
Me: Because it isn’t safe for me to turn around and try to find your blanket.
Me: Because we could get into an accident.
See where I am going with this? Sometimes, “because I said so,” is the only option.
3. Go through the drive thru at McDonald’s. I know what you are thinking… I used to think the same thing. Gross, McDonald’s. Don’t judge me until you have a two-year old and a newborn. Running in somewhere to get coffee is no longer an easy task. You try taking a toddler out of her car seat and asking her to wait while you unload the newborn’s car seat. If you have a “runner” like me, getting coffee can be a life or death situation. McDonald’s (or any place with a drive-thru) ensures the safety of my children and my sanity when they hand me my iced coffee… for a $1.09 I may add. Not too shabby for Jenna.
I used to think, “wow, they have no control over their kids,” or “their kids need more boundaries.” Little did I know that letting them make a scene is sometimes the only thing to do. No, I will not just give her the candy that she wants. No, I will not promise her some other type of reward to get her off the floor and back in the cart. What I will do is let her scream and pout and if she doesn’t stop in a reasonable amount of time, I will bring her outside where we will have a serious Momma and Riley conversation about what just occurred inside. So, unless she has just taken a bite out of your ankle while in her fit of rage, please keep on moving and keep your looks of pity to yourself.
5. Let Riley run around barefoot. If you had asked me about this before I had kids I would say absolutely not. This is more of an OCD thing than a parenting thing, but in my mind, parks and playgrounds are garbage pits that are filled with needles, plastic gloves, used condoms and of course band aids. No I don’t want my child frolicking barefoot anywhere but in the safety of our own backyard, but do you know how hard it is to keep shoes on a toddler? I swear she can get them off before I even open my mouth to say “No.” And, though they are easy to remove, putting them back on can be quite the ordeal, something I honestly just don’t have the energy to do more than three times per outing. Especially if it results in a meltdown, as outlined in number 4.
I won’t lie. I can be a judgmental person, and I will likely continue to judge others and their choices. I think it is human nature to do so. But being a mom has definitely opened my eyes, and allowed me to be more understanding and compassionate of how other people handle things. I think all we can do is try our best and ask others to reserve judgement until they are in the same situation. So, I’ll leave you with this, No judgement, please.