Yesterday I wrote a post that I deeply regret writing, and now I would like to post a public apology. My stomach is tied up in knots and my face feels red as I write this, but I think it is important to do so anyway.
I wrote about my approach to managing my kids on snow days, and in the process, I threw a fellow mama (and a friend of mine) under the bus. I publicly dismissed her parenting style, and then went on to write about why mine was so much better.
There is nothing acceptable about what I wrote, and I want to publicly apologize to my friend, and to everyone who read the piece.
For years now, I have read blog posts and books that offer all sorts of suggestions about how I should be raising my children, many of them under the guise of “everyone has their own style of parenting, but this is just how I do it.” This is precisely what I did, as if it’s supposed to make it all OK. It doesn’t.
The hard truth that I don’t want to admit to anyone, much less myself, is that I am envious of my friend (if that wasn’t already obvious from my post). She is a wonderful mother, she has a strong career, and she and her husband have created an amazing life for their children. They are thoughtful, caring, committed, and engaged parents. They have endless energy (or so it would appear from the outside; I’m sure they feel exhausted at the end of the day just as we all do) to take their girls swimming, skiing, ice skating, and in the summer, running and biking. They take time to spend time with their kids. And, to top it all off, they’re not preachy, judgmental people. They are supportive and kind.
The thing is, their parenting style in no way diminishes the choices I make. That they choose to spend a snow day actively engaged with their daughters is not a judgment on me or how I choose to interact (or not) with my own children. Except in my own brain, of course, and that’s where I got into trouble.
There I was yesterday morning, exhausted from a lingering sinus infection, overwhelmed by looming deadlines, and stressed about my husband getting home from California in time for me to head out to a conference I am woefully unprepared for. I was staring down the barrel of solo parenting through a snow day, and I was worried about what we would do all day, and how quickly and often I might get frustrated or exasperated with my daughters. When my friend posted her comment on Facebook–which she did entirely out of a desire to support me, of that I have no doubt–I began to judge and doubt myself. I was in a “get through the day” mode rather than a “camp counselor” mode, and I hated myself for it.
So I took it out on my friend. She didn’t deserve it at all.
With that post, I became an active participant in the Mommy Wars, rather than just an innocent casualty. I judged and shamed another mother publicly, and for that I am deeply sorry. I suppose the fact that I judged her for being a good mother is even worse, but the reality is that we are all struggling with parenting, and even those of us facing our worst demons don’t deserve the judgment of another, especially a friend.
I have apologized directly to my friend, but I am also painfully aware that my apology will not erase the words I wrote. All I can do is add this: please know that I have learned an important life lesson in a most difficult and meaningful way. And I am once again reminded that parenting and life are hard enough, without the people in our lives undermining and judging us. I will do my best to notice the judgmental thoughts when they arise (as I know they will), and then let them go without a word being spoken or written. And to my friend, I can only say again I’m sorry. I got it wrong. And I will try to do better next time. Thank you for helping me become a better parent, a better person, and a better friend.
One final thought: before you leap to comment on this post, either to berate or defend me or my friend, take a minute to pause, and breathe, and think. Ask yourself–is what I am about to write kind? Is it thoughtful? Is it necessary? Is it reflective of the kind of person and parent I want to be? How might I feel if and when my children ever read those words next to my name? I didn’t ask myself any of those questions before I published my snow day post, and maybe if I had, I wouldn’t be writing this post today.