A woman in her thirties should be self-assured. This is rule #1 in the woman-in-her-thirties law book. Not arrogant, not stubborn, not unwilling to compromise, but sure of herself.
This confidence includes being secure enough to let the snide comments of others slide off her back, for the most part. This is particularly important when a woman in her thirties is a mom. I find it amazing-- fascinating-- that so many strangers have something to say to parents out with their children. By and large, it's people offering a supportive aside ('You sure do have your hands full!') or a sweet compliment ('Your children are beautiful!'). But sometimes... sometimes... not.
I'll start with Saturday night(s). I love my Sunday morning hot yoga class, which means if I want to get to church with the kids I have to go Saturday nights. (I married a non-Catholic. This is something I knew going into the deal, and something we talked about at length. L is not going to convert. I have absolutely no expectations of him to do so. If I want my kids to go to church, [which L is okay with, obviously], it's all on me.)
I'm not going to lie-- church is tough. We sit in the cry room until Aaron can take no more, then we run around in the vestibule while I try to listen to what's going on inside. Going up for Communion is... well, let's say it's not a super reflective time for me.
I'm hardly perfect about taking the kids to church every single weekend, but recently I read this blog post, and was re-energized. 'No one is judging me', I told myself. They are all supporting me, and happy to see my babies in church, no matter how loud they are screaming while chasing each other outside the main doors.
Last weekend was just such an experience. I was literally sweating while I chased my kids around the vestibule, trying hard to listen to the homily. A sweet older couple was setting up a table for their Bible study sign-ups, and Aaron, of course, had to go over and say hi.
'My wife and I were talking,' the man said as Aaron banged on his Bible study sign. 'Don't you think it would be easier to leave the kids home with your husband while you go to church, and then he can leave the kids with you when he goes?'
Was this guy trying to make me feel like an inadequate mother? No. Was he purposely trying be be presumptuous, unsupportive, and rude, just to name a few? No.
But he was.
And then Monday morning, when I took both kids to the grocery store (against my better judgement, but I really needed milk!) Aaron threw a container of yogurt on the floor (splat), and Anna was whining about wanting everything to go in her little cart.
'I don't know how you can stand it,' a woman said as she walked by me, referring to the noise my kids were making.
I felt my cheeks get hot immediately. 'Easy,' I said. 'I'm their MOM.'
But the damage was done. This whole week I've felt the sting of judgement all around me, from the parking lot to the school drop-off area to the dining area at Panera.
I'm not doing enough. My kids are out of control. Everyone thinks I'm a bad mom.
This morning, after a particularly grueling lunch experience, I felt myself reach rock bottom. 'No more going out', I told myself. 'I can't take it anymore.'
I thought about it on the drive home and realized something: My exasperation wasn't a reflection on my kids, who are nothing but normal one and two-year-olds, but more a reflection on me. I'm the one letting people get to me. I'm the one who has allowed people and their negative comments to bring me down.
And I've certainly allowed a few lame people to overpower the wonderful people in my life who, every day, remind me that I'm a good mom. Not a perfect one...but who is?
So to all the commenters out there, since you're so free with your parenting advice, how about a couple words of advice from this woman in her thirties:
If you don't have something nice (or supportive, or welcoming, or encouraging) to say, then keep your trappy-trap shut. I am working on tuning you out, anyway.