Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Glass houses

As usual, the bloggesphere is bubbling with delicious stews over "mommy bashing" -- that perennial favorite of pundits everywhere who feel the need to instruct via sledgehammer.

The latest of which, and most interesting, seems to be the bashing of moms who lash out first.

Dubbed SanctiMommies by the dear and thoughtful Mom-101, it seems these are the folks - men and women (I'm not biased) who feel the need to voice (or at least intone with heavy sighs) their fervently held beliefs that other parents are just getting it wrong.

You know who you are: You are anonymous commentators, the eye rollers, the tisk-tiskers, the I-can't-believe-that-child-still-has-a-pacifiers when you're in the presence of moms, who, for whatever reason, happen not to be getting it right that very instant. Often you have no qualms about letting your feelings be known, especially if it means some child isn't scarred for life because of something dumb their parents are doing.

SanctiMommies can also people who don't have children but are pretty certain their little peapods wouldn't be careening around a fine dining establishment disturbing the meals of innocent gormands.

Most people admit to falling into the SanctiMommy category from time to time, and tend to let it wash away their own sins. We even pick our poisons.

I know a SanctiMommy whose pet peeves are pacifyers and thumb sucking. She can overlook soiled clothing, temper tantrums and other transgressions but she can't help herself when it comes to the dreaded binks. Whenever she sees the offense play out in her presence her face crinkles into the shape of a prune.

"How old would you say that child is? Too old be be sucking her thumb I would say!"

Whenever this type of thing happens in my presence, I fall silent, avert my eyes and try to change the subject.

Having been at the receiving end of a number of Mothers Superior, I am in the There-But-For-The-Grace-Of-god-Go-I school of parenting.

"She should have a hat on. ... I hope she's wearing sun screen. ... She's too young to be out in this cold. ... I didn't have children to let other people raise them. ... Who's the parent in this family? ... Children that age shouldn't be in restaurants. ...My kids never eat anything processed. Do you ever put that camera down?

The list of my transgressions, and public airing of them, goes on an on.

I can honestly say I've never been particularly sanctimonious about any of the hot-button issues. I've known too many people who have been tortured by "getting it all wrong."

The didn't have natural births; they couldn't breastfeed; their babies didn't thrive right away; they were depressed and fearful. One woman ultimately ended her own life. It always comes down to this: "Who am I to judge?"

I suppose the gift I really have is knowing what it is I know nothing about; and that list, my friends, is a long one, too. I try to think the best of everyone because I really don't know what they have to deal with from day to day. Hell, I don't even know what I'm doing from one day to the next, and I have to believe each one of us struggle with the same demons.

And for all those folks that would judge me? I'll try to let it go. Perhaps more than me even, they're struggling, too.


wordgirl said...

Me, too. The judgement comes in many different forms and from the oddest places. Even family. That's what I look forward to--I mean dread--this weekend. Just such an encounter. Light a candle for me.

Kcoz said...

There are no rules… each child develops on there own agenda, one can only encourage.
I had a sister who sucked her pacifier (pinky) till she was four years old and another who was reading at four, than playing the Clarinet by seven.

Who is the better personality now, they each have different perspectives. The binky addict is the most caring and the prodigy is the most demanding... so who is to say.

All one can do is guide them and not force, discipline and not harm…. But love them ALWAYS

BTW, I actually added another story to my blog... I hate writing but do enjoy telling the old stories, verbally is preferred with a few shots in us.

One more thing... you stated somewhere you used a Nikon D70 for most of your pic’s. Since there are many updates to that camera I’m wondering what your pixel ratio is and the lens you use... excellent low light photography you have here.

toyfoto said...

I shoot mainly with a 17-50mm 3.4, but I do have a 50mm 1.4 that's much better. I usually shoot with the pixel ratio set to fine but I've also been shooting RAW.

I guess I'm usually working with something that's aout 300 dpi.

Anonymous said...

How well you speak my mind!

LOVE the picture - gave me a good laugh this morning! I have one of my Hannah, when she was an infant, with a big snot bubble coming out her nose. I occasionally come across it and still roll with laughter.

I think I have been feeling a little blue lately because somany people are unintentionally making me feel inadequate (especially MY mom). I don't work. I'm still breastfeeding my 16-month-old. She still sleeps with me . . . all wrong in her eyes. But it's what works for me.

I can't believe anyone would snub your parenting. At least from your posts, you sound like one excellent mother.

Andrea said...

This is an awesome post. I couldn't have said it near as well as you how I just try to remember that I'm not in their shoes, nor they in mine. It's hard to let the judgment slide off my back when I'm the target of a SanctiMommy, but mostly my shock over someone so brazen as to speak down to me keeps me from saying something I'd regret. Most often, I wish I'd said something to defend myself, but usually, silence is the best route and I just have to remind myself of that from time to time.

Mom101 said...

Great post, Siobhan! You know I'm so with you.

I swear, hours after I published that post, a coworker--one whose parenting choices and committment I question regularly--commented on a passing four year old with a binkie. I wanted to scream YOU don't get the right to judge!

Anonymous said...

It's amazing, the things people say. Everyone has an opinion and gives it unsolicited.

Stand your ground, I say. My brother and sister-in-law have the unenviable position of getting our mother to back off from lecturing them over their five kidlets. Then there's the grandparent set on the other side. My father and stepmother wisely avoid the fray.

Be Still said...

Jude still sleeps with us and we don't care, but I find myself hiding this part of my life from others.

My fear is that I'm just bitchy enough that if the issue were raised, lasers would shoot from my eyes and I would annihilate the obnoxious offender.

Not that they wouldn't deserve it though...