Monday, April 11, 2016

Parenthood: Week 147 – The Woman In The Coat

I totally judged her.

I mean seriously. I’m at this place space with my son, actually “playing” with him and her two kids are running around the area, wreaking havoc. Now, to be fair, her boys aren’t that poorly behaved, but they are throwing toys down slides and trying a little bit too hard to play with me. Yes, I’m a teacher, I love children, but I’m here to play with my son, not someone else’s children.

Its early on a Friday morning so there aren’t that many kids in the play space, maybe half a dozen, just the way I like it. Different play spaces handle parents zoning out differently. Some places have areas set-up so parents can be in a “parent zone” away from their children. Diana went to one recently that had a bar, that parents could lean against so they could watch their kids and be on their phones at the same time. This play space had a couch set-up in the corner next to the infant section and that’s where she was sitting.

The woman in the coat had a dark brown winter coat. It was one of those long winter woman’s coats that’s literally a walking sleeping bag. (Diana has one and it’s awesome. If they made them for men, I would totally have one). The hood of this coat and wooly fur trim. She sat in the corner of the couch with her coat zipped up, her knees pulled up against her chest and her hood on. The hood had a wooly lining so you couldn’t see her face at all.

At times you could see her hands holding her phone and at other times she sat arms crossed, not moving.

One time she stood up when her boys were causing a ruckus and she threatened to make them leave, but besides that interaction, she ignored her boys.

Like most parents, I judge other parents. Why? Because parenting is such a ridiculously hard gig that rarely has clear right and wrong answers. You can literally find a book to disagree with almost every choice you make about raising your child from what you feed you kid to how you talk to them. This chaos makes parents insecure and this insecurity make parents judge other parents. It’s human nature, and it’s not worth fighting. We judge, we remind ourselves to be polite even if we know they are doing an awful job.

As I stood there feeling superior about to take a picture of her and mock her on facebook, I hesitated for a second and saw her boys playing on the other side of the room from her, looking over to her but keeping their distance.

Maybe she was an awful and lazy mom, but maybe she suffered from depression. Maybe she was at this play space on a Sunday morning to get away from an abusive partner or maybe she was here because the apartment was wrecked and it wasn’t a great place for her boys to play in. Maybe she didn’t have an apartment and they spent the night in her car. Maybe she was really doing the best she could in her situation and I couldn’t do any better if I was in her shoes.

I slipped my cell phone back in my pocket, looked over to Ollie and reengaged my son.

Parenthood is tough, and passing judgment on other parents is a helpful coping mechanism, but sometimes we need to take a step back. You never know what people are going through, so sometimes, it’s best to give them the benefit of the doubt.

I feel like I deserve this consideration, and extending this to the woman in the coat was the least that I could do.

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