Sunday, October 5, 2008

Sometimes It's Just About Surviving

I haven't been posting regularly. Things are just so busy. Busy good. But busy, nonetheless. I've had a lot to say, just not a lot of time to say it!! Hopefully, I'll be getting into the swing of things again soon!


Today, two friends and I took our kids to a large, giant, festival about 40 minutes from where we live. We were looking forward to a lot of fun and time outside.

We got both those things.

We also received an extra added bonus which I'd like to share with you.

Between us we have three kids- my two, and one other. My one friend doesn't have kids yet. We opted to bring just my double stroller and figured that the boy would want to walk everywhere. Which he did.

What we found, though, was that he wanted to walk on his own and be a "big boy". I get that. He is all about independence nowadays. (If only he'd independently stop pooping his pants!!) Needless to say we had hand holding issues. Meaning, we wanted him to and he didn't want to.


There were a TON of people there. Seriously. Most of the streets were shut down so people could walk right down the middle and the sides were lined with different vendors. Well, the middle, the sides, everywhere was FULL of people. It was really like standing in line and shuffling along. Having a child "free" and unwilling to hold your hand was not only annoying but also frightening.

You just never know what's going to happen.

My friend happened to bring a "leash" or tether for her child. She had planned to use it in case her child didn't want to be in the stroller.

Now, I'm not a fan of these. At all. The image bothers me. The idea of my child on a leash upsets me. I just don't like them. I've seen the cute ones that look like backpacks and have teddy bears on them. I've seen the coiled ones that look like phone cords. I just don't like them.

My friend's child never really wanted to walk or run, unless we were on the playground, so the leash was unnecessary. Or so we thought.

The boy had wandered a bit too far, one too many times. My heart couldn't take it anymore. My nerves were shot. My friend offered to tether to the boy while I pushed the stroller. She made it a game. She made it so that she and the boy had matching "bracelets". He LOVED it! Didn't even realize that he was "attached" to someone and when he noticed it, he played with it.

I was not completely ok with the leash BUT I was much more at ease with him on it. I was much more comfortable knowing that there was no way a stranger could easily walk away with him. I was calmer knowing that I didn't have to stop every 20 steps to make sure I knew exactly where the boy was. I was just feeling better about the whole experience.

We were walking through part of the festival when I passed two young women, childless at that moment. These two young women looked like they were early to mid 20s. If they were married, their significant others were not with them. And if they had children, they were not with them either. My friend walked ahead of me and the stroller with the boy right next to her. As they passed these two young women one of the women decided it was her God given right to pass judgment, out loud, on us as parents, "Your kid on a leash! That's real nice! Ridiculous, who puts their kid on a leash?"

I stopped.

I literally had to wrap my hands around handle of the stroller so as to stop myself from turning around, pulling her greasy, stringy, hair, ripping off her giant "bug-like" sun glasses, and screaming at her. I turned to my other friend and said, "Did you hear her? Did you catch that?" She hadn't. She missed what Dirty McJudgy had to say about my son on the leash. I filled her in, as loudly as possible knowing full well McJudgy was right behind us. And then we walked away.

I don't know what bothered me more, the fact that she felt it was ok to let her opinion, her judgment, be known in such a loud and obvious manner. Or that 6 years ago that might have been me.

I have always expressed my thoughts on child leashes, tethers. I may have even expressed them in the same manner that McJudgy decided to express them. I may have been that bitchy girl at the festival or the mall who decided it was her God given right to pass judgment on the parents who felt that the tether was necessary. I hope not, but I can't say for sure.

I used to feel that tethers were used because parents could not control their children. That clearly, they had no discipline and never ever listened. I assured myself that I would never leash my child like a dog.

I had also assured myself, in my pre-parent days, that my children would be potty trained by age 2. We all know how well that's working out for me!!

Today, I had to use the tether on my son. I think we used it for maybe 15 minutes. He got a kick out of it and I was able to relax and know that he was right next to me. I was not happy about it but it was necessary. It was not my first choice but it worked really well and I am grateful that my friend had it. I'm not running out to purchase one of my own. I did it because in the excitement of the day the boy was overwhelmed. He listened very well, on and off the leash. He was on best behavior. He just was so excited to see everything that he would lose himself in the moment. I didn't want to lose him at all.

I got a glimpse of myself, the much dirtier and stringier version, today. A blast from the past, if you will.

I had grand ideas before I had kids. I had these notions that while it would be hard, it would also be roses and buttercream filled chocolates (my favorites!). I knew that my kids would never experience the terrible twos. (My 18 month old has recently decorated our lovely walls with shades of crayola green and blue.) I was convinced that I would be that mom who had the spotless house and never more than one load of laundry to do. (The pile outside my laundry room is scandalous and my house FINALLY got cleaned today for the first time since school started!) I really thought that it would be different and never once did I stop to consider what it would REALLY be like.

I really wanted to stop that young woman and let her know I was just like her. I wanted her to see that while she thought it was close to child abuse to have my son on a leash, it was a protective measure. It was about making sure I left the festival with the same amount of kids that I showed up with. It was about staying sane and safe. It was about surviving and sometimes parenting is about just surviving.

I wanted to make her see.

I couldn't. It's not my job. My job is to be the best parent I can be. To care for my children in the best way possible. To protect them as best as I can while also giving them confidence and independence.

My job is to recognize that the girl walking by who has no idea about anything else doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things. I have to be able to look myself in the mirror each day and I have to be able to say that I did my very best and what was right for me and my family.

Putting my kid on a leash or tether was what right for me today.

I'm ok with that because he's home with me and not lost. I'm ok with that because we had a good time today. I'm ok with that because I received a picture of what I once was and I was able to see what I am now.

I'm much happier.

And now I know I don't have to get a dog, I can just put the boy on a leash and he's more than happy to chase after frisbees and tennis balls! :)


Anonymous said...

I would have been that same women 3years ago, before I had Bug, and learned of his little boy needs to run, and run, and keep running despite all I do to stop him. I've been thinking about that leash lately. A LOT!!!

Dirty McJudgy will see one day. Oh, she'll see alright.

the MomBabe said...

the whole "I would never!" attitude flies right out the window the moment a kid is born. Seriously. it's called LIFE.

Helen E.M. Wright said...

There was a time where I 'ate my words' over and over again!

The amount of I'll never do that to my child before children was insane!

Now, I only do it now and again! Everyone does. It's not just about children, you really don't know what you're going to do in a situation until it comes up.

I'm like you with the 'leash' not too into it. I have never used it but let me tell you there were many times I wished I had one when I was in customs at the airport!

- d. said...

It is of my general opinion that women without children are not justified in making judgements, snarky or otherwise, about parenting. So, in that respect, I would have bitch-slapped that ho =)

Kate said...

Yeah, she'll see. Never is a dangerous word, especially when you're a parent (in my limited experience.) :)

Colleen said...

We have a monkey backpack for Zoe. She can wear the backpack (which she loves) and you hold the tail. We've only ever used it at the Newark airport. We've gotten some strange looks... but we've also had people actually come up to us to comment on how cute it is. One man actually stopped a conversation on his cell phone to ask where we got it so he could tell his wife to go get one.

I never thought I would use a "leash"... but when it comes to the safety of my child in a busy possibly unsafe place... I don't care how it looks or what people think. Too many bad things happen.

Leendaluu said...

I had that attitude until...

I had a 22 mos old VERY independent boy and a new baby. And I used a tether getting them in and out of the car in the supermarket parking lot. I had to, just to keep them safe. And I don't feel bad about it.

It's funny, I didn't use them for the twins because they were always at the same developmental stages (and maybe both girls). Or I was more prepared.

So, I'm not a tether junkie.

crazy working mom said...

Oh, I have so eaten my words MANY times. It's part of life.

I'm with -d. if you don't have kids, your opinion matters not!

LaskiGal said...

Just think . . . one day Dirty McJudgy will be walking in the park, with her child on a leash (because she has since figured out its virtues) and someone will make that same crack to her . . .

That's what I like about karma. She's all fair and b*tchy that way.

Caffeine Court said...

Life is all about choices. You can choose to look cool and win the approval of stringy haired McJudgys, or you can keep your child safe from harm. Pretty easy choice right?


Angela said...

I think alot of us moms had our preconceived notions on how we would raise our kids. I am all about not tethering my own kids LOL. As soon as I had kids though, I was welcomed into the real world. That world where my kids did eat french fries in front of the tv to give me 5 minutes to shower even though I had said I would NEVER do such a thing. That world where I have let video games babysit my kids so I could get some laundry or dishes cleaned up even though I would NEVER do such a thing. The day that my mothers voice came out of my car (Do NOT make me pull this car over or I will make it worth my while!) was the day I stopped judging other moms and came to grips with reality. Isn't motherhood grand?

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