When we first ventured into starting a family, we experienced the difficulty of miscarriage and for a time, I was convinced that this was as difficult as this whole parenting thing would be. It seemed only fair that after trying so hard to have a family that the years that followed would be rainbows and sunshine, but we all know that’s how parenthood and mothering is – the ebbs and flows of this precious job are what keeps us up at night, causes us to cry throughout the day, but also reminds us just how deeply loved we are and how much responsibility is on us to raise good citizens and loving human beings.
So what happens when that responsibility shifts to the public eye? In the past few weeks, we have seen countless examples of parenting in public and just how detrimental that can be – to us, to our sanity, and to our commitment to raising these little ones. Because when you step outside of the confines of your own home, not only do you need to be prepared to face the world, you need to be ready for the court of public opinion to hold trial at any time with you as the main culprit. Actions, inactions, words, could have, should have, would have, are suddenly tossed at you like a grenade because you should have known better. You should have DONE better.
Your kids DESERVED better.
And we wonder why the world battles self-esteem issues, anxiety, depression, and a lack of confidence. Because we’ve told people for far too long that they are not good enough.
What if you’re going about your day and your baby is hungry in the middle of Target? Better not “expose” yourself in public because a stranger might find you disgusting, tell you so, and proceed to verbally assault you. Oh, but if you don’t feed the baby, please keep him or her quiet at a respectable volume so that we might not be disturbed while we carry on with our day. So keep yourself covered, but don’t bring a bottle. Because breast is best.
What a load of mixed messages just because you decided to take a trip to the DollarSpot.
What if you decide to take a trip to the zoo and for a moment, your child escapes your eye, your attention, and finds himself into a precarious situation with a gorilla? Did you have too many kids with you? Were you looking at your phone? Why didn’t you climb into the enclosure with him? Don’t you have one of those leash thingies? “I” would never have lost my child in the gorilla pit had I been there. Surely you could not have been REALLY watching him.
But for a brief moment, your child faced the real possibility of harm and death. And instead of squeezing you close and reassuring you that he was fine, the world scoffed at your apparent lack of ability to multi-task because you obviously should have been able to do all the things with all the people at all the times.
What if you venture to the Happiest Place on Earth to make memories with your family and you will now be replaying the same hour of that day when an alligator came and tore your child away from you right in front of you? And the world questioned how. The internet said you should have obeyed no swimming signs. The world wondered just what you were doing when your child was being dragged away.
There is no grace. There is no mercy. There is no understanding for the living hell you will continue to endure – probably for the rest of your life. How you will put your own parenting on trial each and every day because in an instant, you were entirely and completely helpless to do the one basic thing that everyone is convinced you should be able to do – keep your child alive.
And with each example, we learn more and more that when it comes to parenting in public – nowhere is safe. You are verbally assaulted if you do, lambasted if you don’t. From the time they are small, our children see reminders from strangers on the internet to the court of public opinion that their parents are not good enough.
And we wonder why we now battle a culture that lacks empathy, sympathy, and understanding.
The shooting at a Pulse nightclub brought out its share of stories, including one about a two-time cancer survivor and mother of eleven who sacrificed her life for one of her children and because of her, he is alive. She is a hero and deserves to be celebrated for her bravery and courage.
And the general public had to be quiet because the mother gave her literal life for her child.
And in her death, the world finally decided that she was good enough.