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Yeah, I know you’re judging me

19 Jun

I can feel your eyes watching me. See the frowns, hear the whispers to your mate, feel the weight of your glare.

I know you’re judging me.

You don’t know what is going on, or what the reasons are, you have just chosen to go to instant judgment of my parenting skills. And I’m found lacking.

You can’t wait though to go online and tell people about the person with subpar parenting skills you encountered. You can’t wait to show your superiority by exclaiming you would never do such a thing, because you care about your child. You don’t let your phone distract you. You would never give your child an iPad in public. You only feed your kids healthy snacks. Your child wouldn’t dream of throwing a fit in public. You wouldn’t spoil your child like that.

And when I say “Except we’re dealing with an extraordinary circumstance.”, you’re quick to back peddle.

“Oh, I didn’t mean you!”

Didn’t you?

Because you’re judging complete strangers that you may not have even spoken a word to. Because not every child with a disability looks disabled. Because the things you’re judging these bad parents for are things parents like me go through every day.

“Listen, I know you’re going off about parents making special meals for their kids and that we shouldn’t be short order cooks, but my child with food aversions/allergies only eats 15 things, and I’ll be damned if I’m eating chicken nuggets again in this century.”

“Oh! I didn’t mean YOU! I just meant this other parent I don’t actually know!”

“Yeah I gave her my iPhone to watch a movie on while we were at the coffee shop with friends. I actually wanted to talk to my friend and my kid thought we should leave as soon as he swallowed his last bite of cookie. I was desperately trying to milk out another fifteen minutes because I only get out of the house twice a year.”

“Oh! I didn’t mean youuuuuuuuuuuuu….”

No, you didn’t mean me. Except you kind of did. Because you don’t know, when you’re instantly judging that parent you see in public, the background of that parent and child. Because you don’t know them. You have taken the time to judge them, but have not taken the time to learn about them. That could be my daughter and me you’re judging.

And then you go home, you get on the internet, and you proudly proclaim that you’re totally judging that parent you saw handing their kid a device in a restaurant, or promising their daughter a treat if she’d just stop screaming.

And yet…and yet…if parents like me didn’t do all the things we were judged for above, then we’d be judged for not being able to control our kids. We’d have people in the next booth complaining to waiters that our child was being too loud and annoying. We’d be told that we shouldn’t bring “kids like ours” out into public where other people are trying to enjoy themselves. We are told how “a good spanking” would solve our kids behavior issues. Which is why your judgment of me falls on deaf ears. I stopped caring about what you think of my parenting child a decade ago and just do what I need to do.

I get it – we all judge people. Sometimes, those judgments are spot on. Hitler? Bad. Traffic? Annoying. Puppies? Adorable. Judging me a bad parent because you see my three-year-old in a stroller and feel the need to tell me so without knowing why I needed a stroller for my daughter with low muscle tone? Which really did happen to me? Rude.

Listen, I know not everyone is always going to pick up on my daughter’s differences, because they aren’t on a billboard above her head in flashing neon lights. But she happens to be my fourth kid, and I know I’ve been judged on the behaviors of my other three offspring as well. And people are so quick to judge. They don’t know if the kid is having a bad day because they were up late the night before. They don’t know if mom is dealing with post-partum depression. They don’t know dad is letting the kids ruin their dinner with ice cream because mom’s in the hospital being treated for cancer. They don’t know that those three kids with devices in their faces are only allowed those devices while waiting for their baby sister to go through yet another therapy session or doctor’s appointment, and those three kids are dragged to every appointment because dad’s working and mom can’t get a sitter. And mom knows how boring it all is. So got them devices to play on to make sitting in waiting rooms and hallways easier on everyone.

They don’t know.

You don’t know.

I don’t even know.

How about this? How about instead of judging parents, or defending your judgment, or trying to excuse your judgment…how about you just don’t judge those average everyday parents who are just trying to get through a store or a meal? Or maybe, you can judge them a little in the privacy of your own head, but keep your mouth shut and your fingers still? Maybe don’t broadcast that judgment to the internet.

Because everyone has an off day, and that parent your judging may really really not need that extra crap loaded onto them on that off day.

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Be wary the jobs you suggest to me

12 Jun

“Hey, we have openings for people to work with adults with disabilities. Would you be interested in this job?”

A very nice, lovely someone asked me this, not knowing the completely honest yet probably unexpected response I’d have.

“Dear God why? Why would you ask me that?”

Not my best moment.

She wasn’t the first to ask me such a thing. I inspire that train of thought in people. “You should work in special ed!” or “Have you considered started a program for children with disabilities?” My reactions are always similar – I’m startled, and blurt out something that is probably considered rude.

I know it’s meant as a compliment. I am vocal about helping those with disabilities, advocating for my daughter, educating people on what our life is like. They see me with Maura, us getting along famously, us working together, Maura happy and me pretty chill.

I make this shit look easy.

So of course, I would be inspired to make it all my life’s work.

I just can’t.

I’m fantastic with Maura’s disability because it’s what I know. I don’t know other disabilities as well, or some at all. I can handle autism because I’ve been around it. But otherwise, I’m about 10% better than the average person when it comes to all sorts of other disabilities.

I would make a horrible special ed teacher because I’d make a horrible teacher. I’ve never been inclined to teach. Actually, anything requiring a leadership position makes me break out into a sweat. The idea of running a program? I’d probably break out in hives. The idea of being in charge of a program makes me nauseated.

I know my limits.

These suggestions are usually given by good people who don’t have a child with disabilities. So they miss a vital point. That point? That I’m already doing this 24/7, 365 days a year, until the end of my time. I am living the dream, caregiving with the best of them, always on call, always on duty. When I’m not directly dealing with Maura, I would like to use my time in other ways.

Wow, that sounds selfish and horrible, doesn’t it?

Yet, no one suggests a regular mom do more regular mom things while her kids are at school. “Oh, you have kids? You should totally work at a daycare! You’re so good at changing diapers!” No, in those cases, people are all “You should totally pursue other interests, be a fitness instructor because you love running.” No one suggested I become a special ed teacher before I had Maura – and I have friends who *are* special ed teachers.

It’s okay though – I feel guilty about not wanting to work more with people with disabilities as well.

But also, I know  my limits.

The thing is, I have my own pile o’ issues to work on when I’m not keeping Maura alive. I’ve got 44 years of matching baggage to sort out while my anxiety hovers over my shoulder breathing heavily onto my neck. I’ve got weight to lose, and a healthy living train to get on because I have to live forever. I have a book to finish revising. I have laundry to catch up on, and groceries to buy. I have that day, once in a great while, where I recharge by hiding in my room binge-watching Netflix, because I don’t always handle stress well.

I also need to learn how to answer these questions with a bit more tact. That may take awhile, as I have a history of blurting out responses that require more tact.

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Meanwhile, jobs I would trample over my own offspring for are as follows, so please, offer them to me –

  • working in a bookstore, because mama needs a discount on books
  • cocktail taster
  • hammock tester
  • permanent fixture at coffee shop
  • paid writer
  • museum wanderer
  • Lush bathbomb reviewer
  • foot model for all those “feet on beach” shots
  • paid shopper for Target
  • professional napper

Serious inquiries only.

 

 

The one where I try to leave the house

26 May

Monday nights, my friend Not Jenn and I have a standing date. Sure, it’s because her kid has a thing near my house and she has time to kill, but that’s just how us parental units roll these days.

So Monday, I got ready to leave. My eldest looked at me, looked at Maura happily watching tv, and asked “You couldn’t possibly leave via the side gate?”

Me, for one second – Son, I will leave this house however I dang well please.

Also me – realizing that Maura has a tendency to reenact the platform scene from “Sophie’s Choice” as she begs me not to go – “You have to go move the brick from in front of the gate.”

Yeah, we have high-tech security to ensure Maura’s safety – or in this case, a cement block on the outside of the gate so she can’t escape the yard. (Yes, there’s also a latch. But some OT taught her how to manipulate latches.)

I make my escape unbeknownst to Maura, and go to the other side of my car to hide from here while I wait for Not Jenn to come get me. Which is a bit silly as my car is a Fiat 500 and I’m actually taller than it. But not by much, so it’ll be fine.

As I play on my phone, I suddenly hear terrified squeaking. I look up and across the street from me, a scene from Wild Kingdom has decided to play out. There is a tiny baby bunny, a mama bunny, and a crow. The crow is trying to get the baby bunny. The mama bunny hops at the crow. The baby bunny then hides under mama. The crow still tries to get the baby.

So I step into the street (we’re on a side street, it’s not that wide) and do the whole “Not today Crow!” thing while yelling shoo and waving my purse.

The crow leaves.

And I realized I’ve just been loud.

I hear Maura’s voice through the open window. “Mom? Mooom? Where Mom?”

Crap.

So I ducked behind the car.

 

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me, hiding behind my tiny car, looking perfectly normal

 

Meanwhile, I’m watching the bunnies. Mama bunny hops back up onto the curb. The baby bunny – who’s like the size of a large hamster – tries to get up the curb. But the curb is huge compared to him.

Now I’m trying to figure out what to do. If I go over and scoop the baby bunny up, will mama bunny run off? Will mama bunny launch herself onto my face? I don’t really know. So I watch and wait. Baby bunny tries the curb again, and manages to stretch its tiny little self up enough to reach the top and then scoots its little bunny butt up over the curb and reunites with mama bunny.

Hooray!

But then they just stay there.

I’m like “Woman, take your baby home for crying out loud!” But she won’t. Maybe because I’m there. Then baby bunny crawls under her for a while, and I’m like “Awww…baby’s still nursing.” And then mama bunny hops to the side – knocking her baby right back off the damn curb and onto the street again.

And now I’m crouched on the side of my car cursing at this failure of a mama rabbit under my breath. “Get on the street and take care of your baby!” I hiss.

Because obviously, I don’t care what this might look like to the neighbors.

You can picture it –

Neighbor – “Honey! That woman across the street is crouched behind a car muttering to herself. Is that normal?”

Neighbor’s Wife – “Does she have kids?”

Neighbor – “Yes.”

Neighbor – “Then yes, it’s normal. She’s probably just hiding from her own children.”

Meanwhile, mama bunny finally chose to go see what her own offspring was up to, and hopped down onto the street, following the bunny until it wiggled its tiny bunny butt back up onto the curb, and then they disappeared finally into shrubbery. Hopefully to where the mama bunny had some sort of bunny playpen to keep her offspring in.

And then my friend finally appeared, and I slinked into her car, disturbing neither bunnies, nor catching Maura’s attention.

And that, my friends, is how I leave the house.

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crappy cell phone pic of mama bunny – baby bunny is just to her lower left, on the street. Yes, he was tiny, and thank goodness, blends well.

 

 

 

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