If there’s one basic tenet of parenting I know to be true, it’s that it really does take a village. From having a friend bail me out and pick my kids up from school because I’m stuck in traffic, to having neighbors bring us soup and Gatorade when we all had the flu, to a veteran mom telling a newbie that she’s doing a good job because she knows how much that exhausted mom needs to hear those words. Motherhood can really kick a woman in the ass, can’t it? So yeah, getting a little help now and then is not only greatly appreciated, but frankly, sometimes it’s necessary.
Sometimes the “help” you might think you’re providing isn’t actually very helpful. In fact, it can be downright insulting to a mom who is doing her best. Yeah, I’m talking to you, CAROL. You know who you are. You saw me and my three children at CVS last week—remember us? At the pharmacy counter? There was an issue with my insurance (yay!) so my kids had to hang out in the waiting area while the staff sorted it out.
It was the fourth errand of the day, preceded by the dry cleaners, post office, and grocery store. And it was lunch time. And one of my kids is four, so there’s that.
As I stood in line, I checked behind me every few seconds, reminding them to sit. Reminding them to use inside voices. Reminding my boys to keep their hands to themselves. It was a long 10 minutes, but we got through it.
I’m sorry I held up the line. I know how annoying that can be. And yeah, my kids can be a little rambunctious, especially when cooped up in the car all day long. But they weren’t running around. They weren’t harming anyone. They were acting like real human children, not animals. So when we got to the car, you can imagine my dismay—no wait, my frustration… hell, let’s just say my flat-out RAGE when I learned that you had been disciplining them during that time.
Since you were at the back of the line, near where they were sitting, and I was at the counter, I didn’t hear you. Or see you. Even though they were in my sight and only about 20 feet from me the entire time, somehow I missed your attempt at parenting my kids. And for your sake, lady, that’s probably a good thing.
When we got to the car, my kids told me how you repeatedly shushed them and told my boys to stop touching each other. Did you hear me say that too? Is that where you got the idea? Did you not think I had a handle on things? That I somehow needed reinforcements? And, most importantly, did I ask for your assistance? Do you think it’s appropriate to speak to another woman’s kids and parent them?
Listen, I appreciate when people offer to help. When my kids were infants and I had a toddler or two in tow, sure, I appreciated when the bagger at the grocery store offered to help us to the car. Or if someone held the door for me as I wrestled a giant stroller. Or if someone blocked my son’s path when he took off on his chubby 2-year-old legs.
But let me say this: You did not create my children with your DNA, so you can step the fuck off, SUSAN. Do not tell my kids to say please. Or thank you. Or sit down. Or stand up. Or be quiet.
Instead, you can sit down. And be quiet. You do not know my kids, and it is not your job to mother them. If they are not harming someone else or themselves, there is no justifiable reason for you to show off your astute parenting skills. I am sure you are an amazing mom. Your kids probably shit rainbows and take in orphaned kittens or something. Slow. Clap. For. You.
If you disagree with my parenting, that’s your prerogative. But honestly, MARYANNE, I give zero fucks. You do you, girl, and I’ll do the same. I am not perfect. My kids are not perfect. But they are kind and helpful and love each other so much it makes my heart crack open with pride. We’re really doing okay, honestly, as we journey through this world.
If you’d like to offer help, that’s certainly kind of you. And I may take you up on it. But don’t you dare quietly discipline my kids from the back of the damn line at CVS just out of earshot of their mother. I pushed all three of those 9 lb. babies out, and if anyone is going to tell them to stop talking out of their butt cheeks in public, it will be me. That glory is allllllll mine, so you can move along, sister.