Recently, I had a visit from an old friend. (Or should that be a ‘playdate’ since she now has a young son of her own?)
Relationships so often seem to shift when children become involved, don’t you think?
After this particular visit, I certainly thought so.
Bubble and I greeted my ‘friend’ (let’s just call her Angela for the sake of convenience) and her son (fake name Toby) at the door enthusiastically. We hugged while the children eyed one another curiously.
Hot tea and company…lovely.
But within a few minutes of stepping into my home Angela remarked ‘I see that you are far more casual about the housework these days.” I turned around with a grin, but there was not even the hint of a smile about her lips. It wasn’t a playful jibe I realized, it had been meant as a thinly veiled insult.
I looked around at the pile of books spread around on the floor that Bubble and I had been looking through while we waited for our guests to arrive, and the ever-growing pile of laundry sitting on the table waiting to be folded and put away and let the words wash over me like water off a ducks back.
I did not need to justify my priorities to anyone .
Much of Angela’s conversation seemed to be driven towards asking questions about certain aspects of my children’s development and behavior and the like as she no doubt mentally compared every inch of Bubble to her own son.
I answered her questions honestly but tried to steer the conversations towards more general things. I do not believe children should be compared and judged. They each follow their own developmental timetable.
‘I took Bubble to see the Wiggles last week,” I offered.
On hearing the magic word “Wiggles” Bubble jumped up from her game with Toby and made a bolt for my bedroom, reappearing a moment later with my iPad.
“Look!” Bubble said excitedly settling down next to Toby to show him how she can put together the jigsaw puzzle on the Wiggles app.
“Oh God!” exclaimed Angela with the kind of expression befitting someone who had just stepped in a dog turd…barefoot. “You’re not one of those kinds of parents are you?”
I confess I was slightly taken aback by the vehemence with which these words were spoken. But once again I quickly decided that I did not have to justify my lifestyle, my choices, my parenting decisions to her. I could have fired back all manner of insults, just ask Hubbster, I am a black belt in the art of cutting words when the need arises, but on this occasion I decided to rise serenely above it and instead opted for a completely different response (and one which was no doubt infuriatingly annoying for Angela).
“Oh God yes!” I gushed with a smile that spanned from one cheekbone to the other and in a tone that suggested she had just presented me with the Golden Logie in parenting. “I am sooooo totally one of those parents.”
Yes! Thanks for noticing. Please call again…never!
Hubbster’s eye’s widened in disbelief when I recounted the events of th morning to him that evening over dinner. Disbelief that someone would have been so blatantly rude (there were other remarks and comments made during the course of the visit too that I haven’t mentioned above) and disbelief that I hadn’t stuck my foot in her backside and kicked her out after first giving her a thorough verbal ear-bashing for her troubles.
But the truth of it is, and I will try to say this without sounding like an arrogant, patronising toss-pot, I felt a bit sorry for her. Why else would she feel the need to come into someone else’s home and openly attack and scrutinise their parenting, if it wasn’t because she was somehow seeking validation for her own?
(Did I sound like an arrogant, patronising toss-pot?)
I am happy with my life, my family, my decisions and my parenting abilities. I do not need to compare my children or my choices with anyone else or cast judgement on how they do things. I also do not feel compelled to justify or explain to anyone why I chose to read books instead of doing the laundry, why I allow my children time to play age-appropriate games on the iPad, or why I ‘allowed’ my 2 year old to have a tantrum when I told her it was time for a nap.
Something tells me that Angela may not be able to say the same thing.
Have you even experienced anyone making rude or disparaging remarks about your family or parenting? How do you deal with it?