By Asha Jameson
It’s been eight thousand, three hundred, and ninety-five days since my last confession. I have judged my neighbor. Really, I judged moms and dads on how they parent before being in their shoes. And I want to apologize.
I’m so sorry I passed judgment on you, (now my fellow) parents. Before I had a child, I had no idea. I had no idea what you were going through, existing with a new human being in your lives. I had no idea what it meant to be responsible for a tiny living thing. I had no idea that having a baby could throw your expectations 180 degrees from where you thought they’d be.
Hypothetically, I knew life was tough and at times, chaotic. But, what I didn’t understand is that you were spending every minute, every moment, making sure he was ok. I didn’t ‘get’ that you were learning a new human being, and were completely absorbed in understanding him and responding to his needs promptly and effectively. I had no idea how hard it was to simply get through the day! Even as a woman with siblings and cousins and nieces and nephews, I judged you based on my own assumptions about what parenting is, and what kind of parent I knew I would be.
What kind of parent was that, you ask? Well, I didn’t really know. But, for example, I just knew things like… “I would never be one of those parents who had a kid with crusty stuff all over its face.” How hard could it be to keep your baby clean? My kid was always going to be clean and utterly adorable.
What a load of horse#$%*. Anyone who has attempted to clean pureed carrots out of an active and squirming 9-month-old’s nose when they are rushing to get out of the house to make it to work knows that sometimes, frankly, it just isn’t going to happen. So, again, to all the parents of crusty kids…I’m sorry.
I also knew “I would never be one of those parents who sat in the back seat of the car with the baby while the other parent drove.” No way. That baby was coming along with us. We’re the parents and we sit in front.
Oh really? Well, after a couple car trips filled with blood-curdling screams and the honest belief that she could possibly be dying back there, I changed my mind real quick. So, I apologize for not realizing that when you have a brand new baby, this is not a choice you make—to cater needlessly to your baby and choose them over your spouse. This was not a choice, it was just reality. I get it now. I’m sorry.
Finally, I was absolutely sure “I would never be one of those mothers who happily left their kid behind and headed back into the workplace with vigor.” Being a mother was going to be the end-all, be-all. And work, though necessary to pay the bills, would pale in comparison to being the loving, impeccable mother I knew I would be.
It took me a long time to realize how grateful I was to go back to work. How the car ride by myself in the morning grounded me. How the solo decision about where to have lunch excited me. How I could finally relax because someone else was in charge of making sure she was ok. And, I’m a better mother because of it.
So, I apologize. I’m sorry I judged the parents who have walked before me. I will take any penance you want to give me, except for listening to ‘The Wheels on the Bus’ fifty times.
Asha Jameson is an attorney who lives in Oakland, CA with her husband and 9-month-old baby girl, Clover. She writes about balancing work and family life for the blog, www.hearsayandhappiness.com, under the pseudonym “Hope.”