Dear People of the World,
There was a time when I knew everything about parenthood. I could glance at any given moment happening between a mother and her child and know exactly what mom was doing all wrong, why her child was acting a certain way. For example, I remember seeing toddlers on leashes and thinking “I will NEVER leash my child! How horrible of a mother you must be to walk your child around like some sort of animal!” (insert major judgmental face)
I’m telling you, I knew it ALL when it came to parenting… that was until I became a mother for the first time. That was until I had a child who was a runner. That was until I could no longer catch up to my little sprinter when she would run off because I was pregnant. That was until I had a toddler and a newborn so I couldn’t leave a stroller with a baby in it to chase down my track & field athlete. Going to malls, stores, parks were out of the question and let’s not even talk about the zoo or museum!
And then the dreaded day arrived. My sister uttered the most feared words you could ever say to a mother of a running off, no looking back, no checking in, only peacing out child… “Let’s take the kids to Disneyland!” The panic set in months in advance, how the hell am I suppose to take a baby and my little olympic gold medal runner to the “panickiest place on Earth”!?! But I couldn’t disappoint my sister who was flying out with her 4 children to visit me. The people pleaser in me agreed… and so the training began.
Not only did I buy my cheetah child a leash, I started walking her around the block just to get her comfortable. And there it was… it was like looking in my own pre-parent mirror… a neighbor walking his dog gave me “that” glare, an old lady peeking out her window probably calling the cops on me, the woman driving in the minivan rubber necking in horror as I leisurely walked my child on a leash! No words were exchanged, I knew what they were thinking… I was once that judgmental person too.
BUT you know what? My little lightning bolt is now 6 and we survived the toddler years in one piece, safe and sound. And the peace of mind knowing your child is safe is worth more to me than a million looks of horror and judgement. Happy to report our most recent trip to Disneyland did not require a leash, but it did require duct tape on the back of her shirt with my phone number in case she wandered off. Call me crazy, paranoid, helicopter mom all you want… I will gladly accept the title if I can improve my children’s safety!
So next time you are quick to judge parenting choices by another mom or dad, stop yourself. Just stop it. Parents don’t need more judgement, they need compassion, understanding and support.
In other news, can you leash teenagers? I’m seriously considering sewing tracking devices into my kids clothes when they are teenagers and not telling them! Too much??? Nah!
Life of Mom co-founder, Lucy Riles