The other day, a mum friend posted on Facebook that she had finally let her son pee in the bushes at the playground. There wasn’t time to find a bathroom. There wasn’t a bathroom nearby. So, what to do if you’re juggling a kid doing the wee wee dance and a hungry baby (she has a 10-month-old, too)? You find the closest swatch of shrubbery and you let your son do his business.
Her choice that day is one I would have COMPLETELY judged (major eye rolls and sighs) pre-kids. But post-kids, I TOTALLY get it. In fact, I high-five her for it.
Here’s my list of those major parenting judgments I made (probably in poor taste) before I knew what it felt like to live with two small goats all day long.
1. Parents who put their kids on leashes. I would see them in supermarkets, at airports and (for shame!) in the happiest place on earth. Then I took my first trip to Disneyland and I prayed for a leash, a rope, anything with which to bind my crazy 4-year-old to my side as we battled the crowds of mouse-loving fans and princess wannabes. Leashes? They’re not just for dogs anymore.
2. Parents who travel on airplanes with their children. It’s like I just expected everyone to travel without their progeny. Who was I? I was a heartless brat, that’s who I was. But seriously, I recall being on an overseas flight with a very unhappy baby. The baby was screaming for what seemed like hours (probably more like years to the fretful parents) and I plugged my headphones in and sulked. Who were these people, these “parents,” who thought it was a good idea to travel with their children? Now I know the answer. They were probably visiting relatives or hoping for some magical time away as a family. My eye rolling probably only made those nervous parents even more anxious.
3. Mums who don’t breastfeed. I remember thinking, It’s natural. It’s free. How can you not breastfeed? You must be crazy or really selfish if you don’t breastfeed. Then, I tried it myself. It HURTS! And once you get past that, the baby needs to eat all the time at first so for a mother who is exclusively breastfeeding, it is very taxing on your body and creates even more sleep deprivation. Then there are the possible nipple infections, medications you might be taking that cross over into the milk (I had a friend getting over brain surgery who had some serious meds to take, therefore, her doctor advised her not to breastfeed), and the hormones expressed during the process that might make you feel the opposite of elated. It happened to me. After all of that, your boobs turn into fried eggs at best. The life just goes out of them. Poof. No judgments here, mamas!
4. Parents who don’t use car seats in taxis. I would think, How can you not protect your most prized possession while taking a trip in a moving weapon? But then, I got stuck in the rain or the train I planned to take just wasn’t running and I had to improvise. Hence, I stuck the baby in the Bjorn and pulled a seatbelt over us both in the car. Not the safest strategy (and I’m probably going to be lambasted by everyone for admitting to this), but it’s what I did. I do not judge anymore.
5. Parents who let their kids wee in public. Major shame points if you let your kid poo in public (which I once witnessed happening in the back of a Ford ute while I waited in a very hot parking lot in a line to get on a ferry boat). As my mummy friend said in her post, “I once judged a man for letting his kid pee on the curb. In public! Like a dog!” I did the same thing. Now I carry plastic bags (just in case).
6. Parents who change nappies in public places. Isn’t that why they make changing tables? Or have you heard of something called a family restroom? This is what I wanted to say to these so-called “responsible caregivers” who were seen swiftly giving their kids a nappy wipe-down on a park bench, or for Pete’s sake, on an airport chair! But then I had a baby (and then another) and I learned about stinky restrooms, long bathroom lines, the fact that not all bathrooms provide changing tables (so you’re supposed to clean your kid on the dirty floor instead?) and explosive poo. Let someone else cast the first stone!
7. Parents with kids at pubs. I’d think: How can you consume booze in front of your impressionable children? How can you bring them into an establishment that promotes the excessive consumption of alcohol? Now: Oh wait, it’s been a long a*se day and I could really use a cold one. Grab the stroller, babe, and let’s take this kid with us! To date, I have taken both of my kids — from the time they were wee ones — to many pubs and bars. Go ahead, judge me.
8. Parents who negotiate. I remember being at a restaurant and hearing a mum say to her daughter, “You can choose the chicken or the hamburger. If you don’t like that, you can share with mummy. What do you think sounds good?” I thought, she’s the kid. You pick for her. You’re in charge, mum! Bwaaahahahahaha. Then, I had kids. No wait, let me rephrase. Then, I had a 4-year-old girl, who at first was a 2-year-old loon and before that a 3-year-old meanie. Try getting one of them to do what you say. Just try it. Now try doing it with two kids.
9. Parents who take their kids to the supermarket. It’s like I just assumed people with kids didn’t eat. Remember what I said earlier about living with two goats all day long? That’s what it’s like, but most of all at the supermarket. All of the colourful cereal boxes are right at their fingertips. They rifle through your handbag, pull stuff out of the stroller (how in the world did our remote control get down there?) and go through the shelves. They steal things! No, really, my kids have shop lifted, right under my nose. Most recently, I returned from a simple trip to Woolies and realised my 18-month-old was holding a random love toy in her hands (a stuffed heart with a mustachioed face and a chef’s hat that said “What’s Cookin’ Good Lookin’?” on it). I no longer judge anyone trying to rush to buy their children fresh food after they have probably had a long day at work and needed to bring the kids along.
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