Just a quick disclaimer before we get started with today’s lesson: It’s come to my attention that some people believe I’m being “morally bankrupt and irresponsible” by writing this column because they feel that new mothers are too stupid to realize that this column is called “Ill-Advised” for a reason. I have considered their suggestion that I write a column that educates everyone and offends nobody but I've decided to continue to write one that offends everyone and educates no one because it’s more entertaining that way. For me, that is. And for all of the people who recognize this as a humor column. All three of us are laughing at you.
And now? Lesson eight: Prepare to be judged. And possibly stabbed.
Becoming a parent subjects you to a whirlwind of new and strange emotions and can leave you feeling more vulnerable than you have ever been in your life. It is at this exact moment that you will find yourself set upon by strangers intent on telling you exactly how terrible you are as a parent. You might think that you’ll easily brush these criticisms off as you are now a grown-up who understands that you are master of your own destiny and that peer pressure is something you overcame in high school, but then you’ll find yourself in tears because someone said your child will be a drug addict because you got an epidural, or that you should be forcibly sterilized because you put your kid on a leash.
That last one there? Not a joke. Totally happened to me. I was walking to the park with my daughter and she was wearing her halter and a woman rolled her eyes in disgust and whispered, “Some people shouldn’t be allowed to have children” to her friend. Then I turned to her and said “SOME PEOPLE have children who have a hereditary condition that makes their elbows prone to dislocation at the slightest tug and if they hold their child’s’ hand and the kid falls then their elbows get dislocated and then SOME PEOPLE have to take their child to the doctor to watch the doctor put their tiny, screaming child’s elbow back in the socket. Maybe SOME PEOPLE SHOULD MIND THEIR OWN DAMN BUSINESS AND STOP BEING SO FUCKING JUDGEMENTAL OR I WILL STAB SOME PEOPLE IN THE FACE WITH MY KNITTING NEEDLES.”
That’s exactly what I said. Hours later. In my own head. I would never have said that out loud. Mostly because I don’t even own knitting needles. And also because I was still so unsure of my parenting decisions that I couldn’t defend them out loud. Which is sad because I was a great parent. And I still am. Not perfect. Not flawless. Not faultless. But great. And unless your children are currently locked in the bathroom while you go on a two-day bender I suspect you are too.
As long as you are a parent you will be judged and will be given unwanted advice. There will always be someone there to criticize you, but the good thing is that there is also someone there to criticize them. It’s a vicious cycle of blame and guilt and the best way to remove yourself from it is to realize that whatever decision you make for your family is the right one for you.
The circle of shame as overheard at a park:
“I can’t believe that you drank coke during pregnancy. I only drank warm milk. Your baby will probably have ADD.”
“You drank store-bought milk? That’s loaded with antibiotics and steroids. Your baby is like a tiny Incredible Hulk. I only drank milk from my own personal cow.”
“You drank raw milk during a mad-cow epidemic. How terribly irresponsible. I drank only purified bottled water from artesian wells.”
“Bottled water? Fabulous. So you’re the reason why my child will inherit a world filled with overflowing trash dumps. Way to shit on Mother Nature, asshole. I drank tap water from one, reusable cup. I even brought it with me to the hospital during labor.”
“You had your baby in a hospital? How cold and meaningless for you. I had my baby at home and my other children helped with the birth and then my husband cooked the placenta for us to eat.”
“So you forced your family to become cannibals. How wonderful for them. We planted our placenta with a sapling in the park to celebrate life.”
“You disposed of medical waste in the park. OUR PARK? Are you fucking kidding me? My kid is playing under a placenta tree? You don’t keep the placenta. You throw it away.”
“You threw away your placenta?! WHAT THE FUCK DID I JUST SAY ABOUT THE OVERFLOWING LANDFILLS? Why aren’t you composting? It’s like you’re TRYING to destroy the earth.”
“Well, maybe I am. Maybe me and 'my hulk baby' are trying to destroy the world using only store-bought milk and my placenta.”
“Oh my God, you are totally over-reacting. I blame all that store-bought milk in your system.”
“YOU WOULDN’T LIKE ME WHEN I’M ANGRY.”
“Oh, is that a TV reference? We don’t own a TV. It’s not good for children.”
“Children? With current overpopulation issues you still decided to have children? We have limited resources and your decision is just plain selfish. I’m keeping my IUD, thankyouverymuch.
“YOUR IUD IS MAKING THE BABY JESUS CRY.”
“YOUR ANTIQUATED RELIGIOUS VIEWS ARE TEACHING MY CHILDREN INTOLERANCE.”
“YOUR CANNIBAL BABY JUST BIT MY BABY BECAUSE YOU TAUGHT IT TO HAVE A TASTE FOR HUMAN BLOOD.”
“TERRY, DON’T BITE THE HULK BABY. IT’S FULL OF STEROIDS AND RAGE.”
“I WILL KILL EVERYONE.”
And that’s why I don’t go on mommy-&-me play-dates anymore.
PS. I tried to cover all my bases but if I didn’t manage to offend you with this post please leave me a comment and I will try very hard to rectify that next week.