Well, it finally happened to me. Someone decided to judge me on my parenting methods.
Because, obviously, I am a terrible parent. I can’t say I disagree: I like my alone time, I get frustrated with the constant no’s coming out of my own mouth, never mind the multiplied-by-100 no’s that come out of my toddler’s mouth.
After days of dealing with my toddler mostly alone (my husband works an odd-hours shift), I was nearing the end of my rope. And, lo and behold, it came on Saturday, right before we were leaving the house to go to dinner. My toddler squeezed half a tube of hand cream all over me (the cream being a Christmas gift from my husband and she is why I can never have nice things, apparently!) five minutes before we were leaving the house.
I was done. Enough. I had had enough. I tapped out, mentally. I decided my husband was handling her for the day, because today, too, was too much.
After the hostess spent the afternoon commiserating with me about how terrible toddlers can be and telling me I was doing the right thing by putting my daughter in a time-out for hitting me in the face, I was able to relax and feel like I could face the tantrums again; the company had replenished my reserves and I was ready for another day.
Until Thursday came, and I answered a phone call from said hostess. It seems that someone else in attendance did not like the way I handled my daughter, and the hostess felt it was her duty to “address” that with me. The call started off badly, with her saying she didn’t like being the “bearer of bad news”. She continued with “What you are doing doesn’t work and you won’t listen to anyone else.” There was more, but I hung up before I let anything else sink in.
I think I mentioned earlier that this person had spent the afternoon encouraging me, telling me I was doing the right thing, making me feel better about how I was handling things? Yeah. That.
This hurt. A lot. I had said that afternoon that I was struggling, that I was trying anything and everything until I hit on something that worked, and that I felt terrible always saying no and feeling like I was always yelling. I had had many, many conversations with her about my struggles to deal well with my toddler’s terrible two’s, and she had been an amazing source of encouragement to me over the course of our relationship.
On the one day, in the few hours, that she had seen me out of the 30 days she did not, I became a bad mother.
On the one day in two and a half years that I had given up, for a few hours at most, and was Just. Done.
On the opinion of one person (whom, I might add, is no expert), she threw all of those conversations and encouraging moments over the years out the window.
In one phone call, she reinforced all of the guilt I already had as a mother and caused me to question myself even more than I already did.
She will never ever understand the damage she has caused. She will never see how wrong she was to do that, and she will never realize that her actions are what made things change between us.