At least I have a few years to go before D starts judging me, too...Here's something they don't tell you about parenting before it happens to you: as a parent, every action and choice you make is potentially subject to criticism, rude commentary and glares from random strangers. And you are also likely to start judging yourself far more harshly.
Pre-Diana days, a good day in my book would involve waking up after 9am, doing a couple of posts or researching for an upcoming story and hoping to sneak in an hour of telly during lunch. Now I do a hundred times more than that before 8am – housework, real work, baby and Bolshy-related work – and I find myself feeling guilty that I haven't done more.
So when D is having a middle-of-the-street tantrum and Bolshy, eager to mark a new tree, is busy dislocating my shoulder, I feel awkward about all of the random bystanders who are witnessing my parental failings, casting concerned glances and those withering looks dripping with judgement my way. It's even worse when people decide to say something.
The other day, I wandered into Neal's Yard (my attempts at becoming a healthier person by quitting chocolate aren't working, so I'm trying a new approach: spend extortionate amounts on 'healthy' hair and body products) with Diana, who was munching on a snack.
"What is your daughter eating?" one of the saleswomen asked, followed by: "Are those sweets or crisps?"
This line of questioning might not seem like a big deal, but I was furious. On what was supposed to be a relaxing outing, I had to deal with a stranger criticising what my daughter was happily eating. I was also irritated that she immediately assumed it was something unhealthy (I come out looking good in this story since D was chewing on apple crisps – hence the crisp-resembling packaging - which the saleswoman wholeheartedly approved of).
But then I got annoyed with myself (see, I feel guilty about everything these days!) for caring about what a stranger would think. If Diana had been chewing on something less nutritionally wholesome, was I supposed to feel embarrassed about it? And wasn't it inappropriate of this person to put me on the spot like that?
This kind of judgy behaviour happens all the time once you're a parent (it starts in pregnancy, I think). And I just wish I could hold up a sign to all those holier-than-thou strangers letting them know that I spend enough time feeling guilty about something or other and trying to better myself as a person and parent without their input.
Incidentally, as D was munching on her nutritionally wholesome snack, she was also peeing on herself - Daddy and I had changed her and somehow forgotten to put a nappy on before she left the house, which we didn't realise until we were in the park with Diana. So my little healthy snack triumph ended in defeat, I suppose.
Or maybe not. Since D was smiling the whole time I didn't bother feeling bad or judging myself for once. It's so much easier just to laugh about it sometimes.
More:Is It Just Me?
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