"Oh, yeah, you should see what she feeds her toddler," Gina
confided, leaning across her desk. "It's all chicken nuggets and
macaroni and cheese. Total garbage."
"That's unbelievable," I replied, shaking my head. "I can't
believe these parents that feed their kids such unhealthy nonsense.
It's all laziness. Like, how long does it take to poach a chicken
breast and steam some broccoli? Ten minutes? Ten minutes to give
your kid some actual, real food? It's not like she even works.
You're telling me she can't find time in her day to cook her kid a
These catty words have haunted me for more than half a decade.
Words spoken arrogantly and carelessly in a quiet office between
two women wearing clothes that had never been puked or pooped upon.
Words that passed between two sets of faces dressed in makeup that
was not applied over a screaming child propped in a bathroom sink.
Words that did not contain that slightest taint of outright
exhaustion or misery.
Raising a child is easy. Just ask someone who has never had
We were harsher than usual dissecting this particular mother's
parenting tactics because, quite frankly, we didn't like her. We
hadn't liked her much before she had children, and now we simply
loathed her. She didn't have to work; she got to stay home with her
two adorable children and didn't have to deal with actually leaving
the house and having any other kind of responsibility other than
raising her children - which, we had clearly determined, was barely
a responsibility at all. Her kids ate nuggets! They watched Elmo! I
think they might have even taken naps! For God's sake, what was
this woman doing with all that extra time she had?
"And you should have seen the tantrum Haley threw," Gina added,
shaking her head. "And she just stood there and let her scream.
It's like, God, take some control over your kid, you know? There's
a reason kids behave like that."
"It's just bad parenting," I agreed. "You let them know that
there are consequences. There's no way I would let a kid act like
"So I just couldn't wait for them to leave. What chaos." Gina
stood up and stretched. "Now let's take ourselves and our
disposable income out for a proper lunch over which we can discuss
our ironic amusement over various current events."
I hear my own voice echoing in my head upon occasion. "How long
does it take to poach a chicken breast?" It taunts me; it sticks
its tongue out at me. I could throttle my former self if I chose to
waste any sudden time-traveling abilities on that peaceful, snotty
moment between two smug, childless women in their 20s. The question
I had posed was a riddle, and it would be a few years before I
discovered that the question itself was irrelevant. It doesn't
matter how long it takes to poach a chicken breast. Your toddler's
not going to eat it anyway. Plus, since you haven't found even the
smallest slice of time in which to go grocery shopping in 10 days,
you're out of chicken anyway.
As far as children behaving badly, my expectations of my boys'
behavior has, as of late, reached shockingly new lows. I've decided
it's a win as long as they are not the worst children in any given
room that contains at least 10 other children. Andy could be
lighting his jacket on fire while Alex commits bank fraud in the
corner, but as long as there's a third child in the room who's
contemplating treason, then I'm still doing something right. At the
end of the day, having a kid that's slightly better behaved than at
least one other out-of-control child - isn't that a goal that most
moms can get on board with?
I have, of course, become that woman that I so unfairly and
enviously judged. It wasn't until I was fully entrenched with
staying home full time with two small children that I began to
understand the full scope of what was on my plate. And it certainly
wasn't a poached chicken breast and some steamed broccoli. I do the
best I can, but my kids eat nuggets, watch more TV than they should
and throw tantrums.
My advice to anyone who has not yet had children is, go ahead,
say what you will about moms and their kids - but always beware the
ringing echoes in your ears.
Jackie blogs about the mostly joyous, sometimes painful, but always entertaining aspects of being a full-time mom to a couple of little lunatics.
See more of Jackie's stories here.
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