Thursday, March 24, 2011

The 3rd Person Insult

Man, I hate it when moms can be so catty.  After yesterday's post when I was reveling in the golden light that shines upon the sisterhood of mommies everywhere, today was really aggravating.  I hate when random people, but especially other moms, have something to say about how I'm parenting, especially when I'm doing just fine and minding my own business, thank you very much!  When I am just sitting, feeding my very well-behaved children an actually nutritious lunch, and I get two cents thrown in from the peanut gallery, I find that very, very annoying.

I brought my kids to a public, kid-centered place today (I don't want to be very specific because I enjoy going to this place and don't want a bad post to be the first thing people see when they google it).  This place features recreation geared toward preschoolers.  A total kid place, with lots of other preschool kids.  Imagine an indoor playground kind of vibe and you'll get the picture.  Jax enjoys going there so much that he recognized that we were driving in that direction and asked to go there.  That wasn't originally on the agenda, but we went for it.  We had a great time this morning, blowing off steam and burning some energy.  Em was a big girl and liked hanging out with the toddlers--she is so close to toddling and loves big kids; she was all smiles and adventure.  It was overall a really great time. 

I did notice, however, one mom who was giving me a bit of the stink eye since she arrived because Jax was playing with her one-year-old and he made her nervous.  They actually played fine, but you could tell she was a hovering kind of mom, and I am not, so I think she wanted me to supervise them more when I thought they were getting along just fine.  So, therefore, I'm pretty sure she didn't like me from the get-go.  Here's what happened when I broke the kids away from the recreational activity to have lunch.

The lunch area was packed with kids running around, snacking, playing, having diapers changed, putting on and pulling off snow boots--the general clamour of indoor kid fun.  I spotted the one available table where I could feed my kids lunch.  It was an adult-height table with four adult-sized chairs.  I could handle it.  No highchairs available.  Em is not regular-chair ready, so I pulled out the kids' lunches, laid them nicely on the table, had Jax actually sitting nicely and eating for the first time in weeks and had Em sit on the table where she could reach down and feed herself off her napkin.  Em is not a Mommy-feed-her kind of girl.  She will adamantly refuse food if I offer it to her; she is independent and likes to feed herself.  I suppose I could have held her in my lap, but I had two meals going, ripping sandwiches into bites, two cups of water, lots of snacks that are still too big for Em's two teeth, so I just sat her in front of me with my hand behind her back and kept an eye on the general goings-on of lunchtime.  And I thought they were doing great.

Then I hear a three-year-old boy (let's call him "Z"), whose mother I know by attending this recreational facility, ask his mother why that baby (meaning my baby) is allowed to sit on the table.  I look over and smile in an understanding way.  Toddlers are curious little beings and don't yet have a grasp of situational allowance for rule-breaking.  Of course, when Em is ten, I wouldn't let her sit on a table at lunch.  But for now, when there is no highchair and I'm maneuvering through double lunch duty, of course she'll explain that that baby's mommy has her hands full and is doing the best she can.  After all, she herself has two kids.  She must have to navigate some less-than-perfect-ettiquette moments herself.

Instead, this is what she says.

"Well, Z.  I don't know what is okay for THOSE kids.  All I know is what is okay for MY kids and MY kids are not allowed to sit on the table during lunch."

Judgment.  Judgment.  Judgment.  The terrible Third Person Insult: insulting me indirectly to someone else but making sure I can still hear.

I didn't look her way, but I wanted to be like, What the hell?  Do you think I like juggling two meals at once?  Do you think I was offered a highchair and refused it?  Do you think letting my daughter squash her food into her pants is high on my list of things-to-do list for the day?  But I didn't; I just kept feeding my well-behaved kids their nutritious lunch.  A few minutes went by, and then the mom who was giving me the stink eye earlier came out with her kids.  Apparently these two moms have the perfect homes because the first thing her little stinker says was, "Mommy!  Look at that baby sitting on the table!  Why is she sitting there?"

Inwardly I was like, Enough with the commentary, kids!  Move along!  Nothing to see here!  But I just continued ripping sandwiches, tipping water bottles, wiping fingers.  Making sure Em didn't fall off the table.  Making sure Jax ate more than just animal crackers.  You know, normal mom stuff, not worth judging.  But his mom was like, "I don't know, Annoying Kid.  Maybe they have different rules at their house.  But YOU are not allowed to sit on the table during lunch."

Judgment.  Judgment.  Judgment! 

What the hell!  What does this lady know about how my house is run?  Maybe my house is immaculate and my kids use cloth napkins kept perfectly in their laps and eat off china and drink out of crystal because their table manners are that impeccable.  Maybe I am a freelance writer for Martha Stewart's Real Simple and I can tell her thirty ways to fold her napkins into swans and eagles and Christmas trees.  Or maybe, it's just one of those days, ladies, so why don't you cut a sister some slack?

Nope.  Judgment abounds.  Damnit, ladies.  I didn't say anything when it was apparent your kid is a total mama's boy and wouldn't leave your side.  I just smiled encouragingly like, We've all been there.  And when your older kid smashed into Jax while they were running around like little boys tired of being indoors do, I just told Jax to rub some dirt on it and moved along.  I didn't glare at her in accusation, making her cower and wonder who she was messing with.  Nope.  Our kids all fight, and push, and refuse to share and sometimes sit on tables.  So why not take this moment to just say to your kid, "I don't know why that baby is sitting on the table, Z.  But her mommy must know why so let's go eat our snack."  Implying, mommies know best what's best for their own kids.  And comments from the peanut gallery to their kids are the worst kind of judgment--a Third Person Insult. 

Nothing makes me more irritated than when moms judge and act like they haven't been there, or if they have, they would have acted differently.  Remember those moms who let Jax play in pee as a form of mommy punishment for bad form, when all I was doing was nursing in public?  Oh, don't even get me started.  Sometimes I wonder how we can tell our kids to share and how they can play so nicely together and then ironically their moms are the ones who turn out to be mean. 

Doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me.


Zeller Family said...

Bottom line. People need to mind their own business and if they act like they don't know that there are special occasions for special things then they are lying to themselves. People are just so competitive and it disgusts me. It's like...raise your kids how you want lady. I'll raise mine. They are happy well adjusted adorable little beings and so the freak what if they sit on the table for a minute. I'd be incensed and I would have said something back and later regretted it. You were right to keep quiet :) LOL. Just keep doing what your doing, your kids are awesome. And for records sake, I if it happens again I think you should whip out your camera, and tell Em to SMILE BIG sitting on top of that table, and post it here. :)

Sarah E. said...

To be honest, moms are some of the worst bullies in this world.

If I saw your baby sitting on the table, I'd probably giggle because I would understand the situation or ask you if I could help in any way.


It makes me lose hope in the world sometimes when people are so rude and judgemental, but at the same time, it makes me push myself and my kids to be different and understanding and compassionate.

I hope your day gets better!!

Becky said...

Great idea, Erin! :) I'll just act like I'm the normal one and they're ridiculous (which is true). You would have been right to say something--sometimes I think I should but I never do

Becky said...

Thanks, Sarah! I'm actually having a great day--I don't let things like that bug me as much as they used to, but of course it does help to write about it! I wish you had been there today instead of them :)

hayley j said...

just know that when people do things like this it is:
1. extremely immature and jr. high like, and 2. they obviously have some issues with their own life and feel like belittling people is the way to make them feel better. you are a great mama!

Karen said...

See, I am a mommy snob. NOT like THOSE women, but snobby about my fellow Mommy friends. If they are like THAT I have to toss them to the wolves. Good for you for not letting it ruin your day. Something like that would bother me for hours. I find myself "Over mommying" when I am around people bcs. I am afraid of what others are going to think or say. Good lord women; we are all in this together. You are a great Mom! Don't let any-mom for even an instant make you feel less than that. SNOBBY BITCHES!

Brianne said...

Ouch! I've never had a stranger indirectly insult me, but that certainly sounds frustrating! :P

melody-mae said...

oh sweetie, I have been there like this many girls are all grown now and the irritaion of this kind of condesending crud STILL gets me! How dare some stranger care, as long as you are not sitting HER precious one on a table!!!! Ugh.

You just keep on keeping on doing your thing and keep raising those two awesome 'accepting' kiddos!!!

MorethanMommy said...

I hope she didn't mean it like that. I have said similar things to my kids under similar situations. I don't do it in judgment, but my kids need to understand that I'm their mom and they follow my rules. Other kids have other moms and their own sets of rules.

Anyway, I just read your maple syrup post on BlogHer and was drawn over, as we did that recently as well (in Massachusetts). I love your blog (even if you're one of THOSE mommies who let's their infant sit on the table)! ;)

Becky said...

I hope you're right, MoreThanMommy and I'm just overanalyzing (as I have been known to do). Of course it was a moment to reinforce good behavior, but does she have to use me as an example? ;)

Lala said...

Great post!! I agree!! It has happened to me once or twice and it ticks me off. I do my very best to not judge others. Even if I was wondering "wth is going on," I keep it TO MYSELF. There is no need to insult someone, in the third person, at all. Everyone has off days.
I hate to admit it, but some moms are very mean and go by a different set of rules and etiquette. They go out of their way to make others feel inferior and they LOVE IT!! I say, they do this because they need validation of some kind, BECAUSE their lives aren't as perfect as they portray or let others see.

Kristi said...

Have so been there! Will never understand the whole judgement thing. I would have stopped to see if you needed extra hands...although it seems you were doing just, thankyouverymuch...or at the least, flash you an encouraging smile. :) Like that!

Here's a bit of wisdom I've gained ONLY because my toddlers are 18,16 and 13 years old. Those moms who pass down those 3rd person insults about other parents, teachers, friends, strangers in the supermarket, ect will end up with rude, judegemental teenagers who aren't kind. Now, this 100% but the odds are high enough. :)

My kids have their ups and downs and the faults come out clearly as they age. But I AM glad I refrain from being mean, judegemental or gossipy because my kids have compassionate hearts...even if they won't clean their rooms or don't struggle with math!

Sorry so long...just wanted to give you view from the "other side" of mommyhood...the teen years! Karma at it's best!
Be blessed~

Bold E-Zine said...

I totally get this post. I'm much past the time in my life when I was juggling two children, food, toys, poopy diapers, snotty noses, and goo-matted hair. But I can commiserate. Good mom's don't come in identical packaging, and good kids don't come stamped environmentally correct. Actually, toddler-table-sitting is high on my list of cautious and attentive mothering techniques. :) Stay strong! There are so really weird women out there parading around as perfect mothers...

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Dawniebee12 said...

F*ckum, and you too, Annoying Kid...

amy g said...

Keep up the great work with those wonderful kids of yours. It is paying off...big time. You are an awesome mom and wonderful friend!

MamaTales said...

That's just amazing that moms out there think that kind of behavior is okay. I haven't been through it yet with my own but when I'm out I'm kind of oblivious to the clique moms that are more interested talking to each other than watching their kid running rampant.

Madeline said...

Guess the apple doesn't fall far away from the tree. Annoying mum, annoying kid. You take care.