the ever present and attentive parent

Every time I pack up my children to go somewhere I have to plan how to keep track of them. I plan for them to run off, I plan for the screaming, I plan for how to successfully  get through an outing with no lost children, anger lost, or tears. I have had success many times.

In order for the best success I need to have my son in his wheelchair and either both younger girls in the stroller or on leashes. Today I chose leashes over the stroller.  I also chose to go with one leash since this was an event that I could allow one of the little ones to run a little bit from activity to activity without being so constrained. It worked quite well for most of it.

I was pleased that my strategy worked and that I had not lost any children until I sent the oldest and the youngest to do something. This left me with the unrestrained child and my son. I told my daughter that it was time to go and as she and turned something got caught in the wheel of the wheelchair. I reached down to get it and when I looked back up that little munchkin of mine had disappeared from my sight.

I froze for a moment, looked around to see if I could tell which way she had gone and then walked toward the direction she was facing last. All sorts of things went through my head in what seemed like several minutes but was really only a minute. Did someone take her? Would she notice I was not with her? Would she wander and be sad looking for me? Did she manage to go find her sisters? What kind of a parent am I? Where in the heck did she go?

I walked toward the large group of people in the pavilion and stopped to look around for any sign of her. I did not see her so I decided I needed to go back to where I started. From this new angle I immediately saw where she was. She had not gone far. It was the next activity over from where we were before but I guess I didn’t see her earlier from all the people in the way.

Some people may think I am a horrible parent or maybe even that my daughter was naughty. Neither is true. My daughter had not done anything wrong and neither did I. I thought of several comments I have heard and read over the years where people chastise parents for not watching their children more carefully. The one opinion that seems to ring the loudest is how the parents need to always have their eye on their children. This is a difficult and impossible expectation to have on another person. It is impossible to effectively watch your children in tha. It is also unrealistic to expect that if someone whether they have one or multiple children (I have heard someone say they should have only had one child then).

Maybe it is just me, I don’t know, but I think people forget that everybody is human including themselves. It is easy to condemn others from the outside looking in but often times there is no true understanding until you have experienced it and realize what it is really like. Even then, in order to truly understand through your own experience you would have to have all variables the same. That is unlikely to happen.

So what are people missing? What makes people so judge mental of other parents? Is it the idea of perfection? Is it the desire to be perfect yourself, knowing you cannot, and so you project that onto others? Is it fear that it could happen to you too and you are just trying to tell yourself that it won’t by way of putting other down?

I do not know exactly what people are going through but I can relate to many circumstances. I can have empathy for those around me even if I think I know a better way of doing things. I have the ability to hold my tongue, cry with others, change my ways, and learn from my mistakes without a need for society to rub in my face how horrible of a person I am to the standards of perfection set before each parent. I would also guess that the majority of the population has those same abilities as well. What do you choose?

In the meantime, I am grateful we survived an outing where everyone made it home safely after hours of fun–even if I came close to feeling like a failure as a parent.

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