I Apologise to the Parents I Judged
Since I became a mother myself, and even more so since expecting baby #2, I’ve been thinking a lot about the kind of mum I thought I would be and the one I’ve actually ended up becoming. This post is chance to apologise to the parents I judged.
I wrote a post recently on some of the different kinds of mothers I’ve encountered along the way – the Mumcyclopedia. I think I’m a bit of all of them.
I’ve always been opinionated and whilst I try not to judge others, I know I do. I always will. I have never been, and will never be, the kind to sit on the fence or not express the way I feel about someone or something.
However, one thing I have learned in the past couple of years is that, surprise surprise, I am not always right! Friends reading this will have fallen on the floor in shock and my admission of that.
I never want to stop being opinionated – it’s a quality I really admire in others. Even if I completely disagree with someone else’s opinion, I really respect their confidence and passion in putting it forward and I’m delighted when they change my mind on something because we’re never to old to be educated.
That said, I am making a concerted effort to not express all of my opinions all of the time, especially about parenthood. This is for the simple reason that I constantly change my mind now. It’s inevitable of course that as you become pregnant, a new parent, a more experienced parent and then a parent of more than one child, things change. Your situation and circumstances change, you learn more, you find out what works and what doesn’t work for you and your family and your eyes are opened to trying new things that you might never have considered before.
With that said, there are a few judgments I made pre-pregnancy/parenthood that I would like to address and apologise for. So if you fall into any of the categories below, I’m sorry for judging:
1. Parents who only wanted 1 child
I put this down to simple immaturity. I always wanted more than one child, all my life. It was always going to be 2 or 3 (if possible) and I have one sibling myself. I just couldn’t understand why anyone would only want 1 child and I had no problem in voicing this to them.
I thought how lonely it must be to be an only child and couldn’t think of a good reason at all for why the parents wouldn’t want at least one more baby. My main problem was that I didn’t ask them. I didn’t consider that they might have loved being an only child themselves or that perhaps they desperately wanted more but unfortunately couldn’t have any more kids. I didn’t consider that they might not be able to afford another, that they were already pushed to their limits with the one they had or shock that they might just be so happy with the one beautiful bundle of joy they already have that their perfect family is now complete and they didn’t feel the need to expand it further.
So I’m sorry for judging you and in some friends’ cases, for hounding you to have another baby.
2. Parents who didn’t want to try for a Girl or Boy
Absolute naivety and immaturity again. It literally wasn’t until I was pregnant with my own baby though that I dropped this ridiculous notion – that all parents MUST want babies of both gender. And if they already had 3 boys, WHY wouldn’t they keep trying to get a girl?
Honestly I’m embarrassed to have even thought this, let alone admit it to you now.
Until my 20s, I always wanted one of each – a pigeon pair I think they’re called. I had 1 brother, it was what I was used to. It wasn’t until I was pregnant with my first baby that I realised I didn’t care one bit what gender the baby was and of course I only wanted a healthy and happy one. She was a girl – I was delighted! I’m sure I would have been equally delighted with a boy! Now I’m pregnant with baby #2 I’ve had the odd comment of “I’m sure you want a boy next” and when I say I don’t mind, some of them look at me sympathetically as if I’m desperately holding out for the boy I might never have.
The truth is, I just don’t care and in fact, it I really had the choice it might be another girl if only to reuse those beautiful clothes of Miss M’s that we packed away when she outgrew them.
I’m so sorry to the people I pestered to have another one of the opposite sex for all of the reasons given in the point above. Having babies of both gender is so unimportant and you have your own reasons for not wanting to ‘keep trying for the opposite’ that have nothing whatsoever to do with me.
3. Parents whose kids throw tantrums.
You know, the tantrums I mean. The ones in supermarkets, restaurants, shopping centres etc. The ones where the kids literally throw themselves on the floor in a screaming/crying/shouting rage when their demands are not met. Or well, just because it took their fancy to.
Oh how I judged the parents of these little treasures. How had they let the situation get that bad? What a naughty child! Why didn’t they just pick that child up and take it home?
It hadn’t occurred to me that the kid might be having a tantrum out of the blue for no good reason and the parent might have been been caught off guard. Or that even the most beautifully mannered toddlers sometimes throw a tantrum just because. Or that when that child hits the deck, they somehow become the weight of a bus and try as you might, you sometimes just cannot prise them up again! Honestly, how do they get so heavy all of a sudden?
Miss M is a good girl, we’re lucky over all. She only just turned 2, we’re also only at the beginning of our tantrumy years. We’ve had some tasters of what is to come and we don’t like it. We’re scared. We will never judge the parent of a child having a tantrum again and my judgmental head shakes have turned into sympathetic smiles.
4. Women who complained about their Pregnancy
If you’ve reading my blog during my current pregnancy you’ll laugh at this one. I do try to be as positive and optimistic as possible in life but when it comes to illness or any physical discomfort, I’ll admit to being a complainer.
Before I was pregnant myself I had no concept of the real changes it made to your body. Yes I understood that I would increase in size, grow a bump, perhaps get cracked nipples if I breastfed. But that was it, right? I couldn’t understand why women who had apparently tried so hard to get pregnant then spent 9 months complaining about how hard it was. How their back ached. How their skin itched. How they couldn’t sleep. Plus a million more reactions to the never-ending possible symptoms of pregnancy.
How dare they complain? I mean, why get pregnant at all? I was SO naive. It really wasn’t until I’d experienced some of the above (and more) myself that I really understood that whilst pregnancy is one of the most wonderful and magical times a woman can experience, it can also be blo*dy hard work. There really isn’t any preparation you can do for how pregnancy will change your body – you don’t know until you’re in the thick of it.
I feel such guilt for complaining about my pregnancy symptoms. There are so many women who won’t get to experience pregnancy at all and here I am complaining about acid reflux and back ache but I will get to carry, give birth to and hold my own baby. At the same time though, I do try to forgive myself for the complaining sometimes – I am experience real symptoms after all and it doesn’t take away for how grateful I feel every second of every day. For the same reasons, I’ll never judge another pregnant women in the same position.
5. Pregnant women who wanted their baby to come ‘early’
When I was pregnant first time round I was all about trying to be as ‘natural’ as possible in my approach to pregnancy, birth and parenthood. I still am in many ways and my wishes haven’t changed much.
I had many questions about pregnancy and child birth and regularly consulted pregnancy forums to chat to other expectant mums about how their pregnancy was going.
One thing that really confused me at the time was why so many of the ladies who had reached 37 weeks of pregnancy were wishing and hoping that their baby would come sooner than their due date. I couldn’t understand it – in my opinion, they should be waiting for the baby to come ‘when the baby is ready’.
I didn’t consider that at 37 weeks, that poor mother might be experiencing some of the things I am now – the relentless pelvic girdle pain, the 24 hour acid reflux, back ache, constant discomfort, the emotional toil. I warned you earlier that I complain!
I had my first baby at 36 weeks – I didn’t get to the really uncomfortable stage. I was totally naive. I’m currently 38 weeks pregnant with my second baby and although I’m not wishing it out as such, I absolutely cannot wait to have it in my arms and the aforementioned symptoms to go away. Sometimes, they feel almost unbearable. I’ll never judge a pregnant women who has reached term for bouncing on a birth ball or eating a hot curry to encourage her baby to make their appearance again.
You can read about my first baby’s labour and delivery story here.
What about you – do you agree or disagree with the above? Have you regretted judging another pregnant women or parent before you were fully aware of their circumstances?