Wednesday, October 02, 2013

On Being judged

As a mom you encounter all kinds of people involved with your child's life. There are teachers, coaches, instructors, friends, parents of classmates, and so on. The more your children become a part of the world the more you are exposed to different families and personalities. I enjoy meeting new people. My kids enjoy trying new activities where they can meet new kids. It generally goes well. With my littlest girl we are venturing into the world of pre-school and tiny kid activities. It is there where I am encountering a negative sensation with the people we meet. I wish I could say that this is occurring in an activity where we can just move on after the session ends. Unfortunately it is not. I'm encountering the negative non-verbal feedback from the very mothers whose own children share my little girl's preschool class. I'm not asking for fulfilling long lasting BFF relationships with these moms. All I'm asking is to have a mature conversation with other moms who can just have a conversation and not put up the eyebrow of judgment.

Oh you know what I'm taking about. The eyebrow. The side ways look that follows. See, there it is, judgment is being levied. You are now a victim of scrutiny and the openness of a relationship is beginning to be shut down. Over the years I have learned not say too much when I meet new parents. I offer chit chat and am willing to talk with new people but I don't choose to reveal too much nor do I want to dominate a conversation. I know that my parenting ideals are generally very different from those in the DC area. This highly competitive area is a hotbed of zealous parents who are working hard to get their children involved in many activities. Activities such as sports, music, dance, languages, art, theater, just about any and everything you can imagine. There are great opportunities for children to explore in an area that offers such a wide range of activities for children to participate in. There will always be families who will enroll their children in as many activities as possible. All criticism aside these parents are doing so with good intentions. It's a good way to find a hobby or talent that suits the child. You never know what the talents are of your kids until they are exposed to something new. I can think of fly fishing for my girls. I don't fly fish but their uncle does and they LOVE it. Clearly an activity outside of my skill set and one I'd be unlikely to take them to on my own.

This is where my answers tend to cause a divergence in opinion. No reason other than that for my kids we prefer to give them some free time to discover the joy of playing outside with friends or deciding to paint. We also rather enjoy having a family meal together where we do not have to dash off immediately afterward to a practice or lesson. Will this focus on an activity or two for my kids affect their chances to get into a good college? Perhaps. But, truthfully, no. I doubt their limited activities will affect their college access but I do know that right now, in this moment, my kids are far more happy with having a balance between being busy and having free time. I'm happier too. It's less stress for me which means they can see a happier mom willing to do things with them. I too have free time which can be used with them. My ability to interact with my girls doing things like making cookies, knitting, painting, gardening, or going to the park to have an ice cream picnic is more meaningful to them than learning a new language. Choosing to give my children my time has been the best choice for their needs. (I may not expressly say it but my husband's time is also a factor here. He too is finds ways to give his time to the girls with Dad activities they love. Playing with Legos is a big one.)

I'm writing this because I'm weary from all the eyebrows. I'm tired of meeting people who want my attention and then make it clear that I'm not worthy of their time. I'm annoyed with the judgment. I dislike having to choose between coming off as being aloof or as an unambitious parent. I didn't enroll my child in a preschool for anything more than for her to have an opportunity to learn with other children her age. I'm not there to be the rock star mom. I'm not there to be the room mom. I'm not there to be the center of attention. I'm there because I chose to enroll my daughter in a Catholic faith based school for her to benefit from an education that I just won't be able to provide at home for the school year. I'm about 2 months away from the birth of our fourth child and I know that my time to educate my highly verbal three year old will be compromised. I owe it to my girl to let her take advantage of learning. She loves being with other children especially where she can learn something new. I'd just like to enjoy it without the constant judgment.  

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