When I became a mother I can't say that I was the first one in my generation of friends and family to have kids ... but it was close.
A few of my friends became parents before I did and I was in awe. I didn’t know squat about being a parent and in all honesty, up until the day that the little stick in the bathroom went from blank to “pink” I didn’t really know if I wanted to be a parent.
My mother was/is an amazing parent but I was never the type of woman who longed to be “mommy.” I never cooed when I saw other babies and the sound of kids having a tantrum in the candy aisle sent me running for the produce section in the grocery store.
I actually remember having a conversation with my Grandma Bess about kids. I was home from college for the holidays, wearing my favorite pair of overalls and sipping hot, black tea while sitting on her couch in the living room. It was a pea-green, crushed velvet couch that still had the thick plastic cover wrapped tightly around the cushions. Just in case, no doubt, one of her six grandchildren spilled something while sitting on the couch. The coffee table in front of the couch was clear, beveled glass held up by gold legs. I remember I was staring at the fake bunch of purple glass grapes when she asked me if I was going to have kids.
My head snapped up and I let out a resounding, “No, never!” I explained to her that I was going to be a world traveler and would be happy to pick up trinkets for my nieces and nephews but never, ever would I have kids.
Never say “never” because about 10 years after I was so emphatic with my grandmother, I became a mother. I became a mother and it was the most difficult thing I had ever done in my life.
No matter how many books are written on the subject of parenthood you really don’t know what you are getting into until you are in it. Any parent will tell you the same thing.
And unfortunately, many people who are not parents feel that they have to share what they think they know about parenting with you whether you want to hear it or not.
Maybe one day those people who think they know how to be a parent even though they do not have any kids will one day themselves be a mommy or daddy.
Or maybe they won’t. Either way, when a non-parent spews judgment on how another person is raising his or her kids, it is really, really irritating.
My brother was the one who never wanted kids but knew absolutely everything about raising teenage boys. It’s no secret that being a single mother raising the two-man swarm was no easy task. but did I ever get any help from the brother in question? No. Only judgment.
It was like being in front of the Honorable Joe Wapner from “People’s Court.” Same story with my other sibling. She eventually had a child who was several years younger than his cousins but as far as parenting my kids … in her eyes I did nothing right.
I’m sure there are many of you out there who are parents who have had someone judge you even if they have not been in your shoes. All I have to say is “Shame on them.”
So for those of you out there who have judged a parent on his or her parenting style and are now parents yourselves … pick up the phone and apologize to them.
When you take your toddler into a store and she has a meltdown or when you come home and smell something “funny” on the breath of your teen or you get a call from the high school telling you that your son may not graduate with the rest of his class … you will remember all those parents you looked down upon because you really didn’t know anything about being a mom or a dad.
Stacey Powells is a local writer and radio host. She hosts the Exhausted Parent Network Radio Show every Thursday night at 6 p.m. on KMMT. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org . For more of her work, visit www.exhaustedparent.com . Her column reflects her own views and not necessarily those of the Mammoth Times.