Tuesday, January 25, 2011


It's hard to be a parent. 

No matter how much you love your child, every (good) parent has that inner critic who points out everything s/he does wrong or imperfectly. 

I was at the pharmacy today and saw a young mom with a happy, active baby. They had come from a well-baby checkup, told he needed to be on vitamins with iron because he drinks goat's milk, which has no iron. But the prescription the baby was given for a type of vitamin that didn't include iron, and she was clearly frustrated and I saw her walking off with her cell phone by her ear talking to the pediatrician's office because she needed a prescription for iron supplements now. 

A little while later, I saw her in a nearby line. Her baby was in his stroller and she was talking to a cashier when an old gentleman apparently suggested she pick up her baby because he was fussing. I didn't hear what he said. But he apparently said several things because her responses got progressively louder as she told him first that the baby had gotten three vaccinations that day. Then, she told him that she has chronic back and neck issues that make it impossible for her to carry her baby throughout the store and that her doctors have told her to limit how much she carries her child. And, she reminded him, it was none of his business, "and you don't know everything, you don't know anything about me or my baby, so mind your own business!" 

I was so torn between wanting to say something to her and being aware that really, it was none of my business either. And she was upset, so I didn't want to make things worse somehow. 

We ended up walking out at the same time, and I decided to do what I always wished someone would do for me when I'd been in similar circumstances with a fussy baby: I told her that I'd overheard the conversation and that the old guy was out of line and that it was clear she's doing her best and that the baby was lucky to have such a good mom. Boy, did she give me a huge smile of relief! 

I think I would have done that for virtually any mom, but I know exactly what it's like to look fine on the outside and be in a lot of pain on the inside, and to have people judging how I parent based on what they can see. After all, I look fairly healthy -- why can't I take Ellie on all kinds of mother-daughter adventures? When she was an infant or toddler, why couldn't I just carry her, or wear her, all the time since that was what made her happiest? (Or at least whenever she was upset not to be getting carried?)

It's so easy to be judgmental, especially when one doesn't have all the facts. I wish more people would err on the side of believing people in general were doing the best they could. 

I came home to read Laurie Edward's Jan. 23 post at A Chronic Dose titled Everyone's A Critic, which prompted this post. I encourage you to read it, too!

For another good post on parenting with a chronic illness, check out Chronic Marriage's And Baby Makes Three.

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