I have been reflecting on the whole situation since it happened, and while I do take full responsibility for my own words and reactions, it has occurred to me that this happens frequently. Not just to me, but also to a number of moms I know. Good moms! Moms like me. And, I'd imagine, it probably happens to dads, too.
So here is the point I want to get across. When people butt into my business - or the business of other parents just like me - and tell me exactly what they (who don't even know me) think about how I handle my children and my business - and with a 10 second glimpse into my parenting life jump to the worst possible conclusion about me - well, they kind of create the moment for themselves. So to those people, I would like to say this:
When you call me out, assuming I am being negligent, it takes my attention away from my kids, and does, in fact, make me negligent. When I have to shift my focus off them and on to dealing with you, I am going to look like I am not in control of them.
When you taunt me and goad me into a war of words, it is going to make me look bad. It is going to "prove" to you what a bad influence I am on my kids. I am going to overreact and I am going to look stupid. Ultimately my own fault, yes, but nevertheless... If you want to see the worst in me, by all means, call my parenting into question.
When I hear your judging words and feel your judging eyes, it will make me flustered, and I am not going to handle a situation with the same cool, calm nature that I usually do. When you make me feel like I am not doing things "right," then I will fumble, and I probably won't handle them "right."
When you make sarcastic remarks about what a "great parent" I am, I will feel the need to defend myself. And when I get defensive, I usually say and do things I normally wouldn't. The bad role model will come out. Not that I want it to, but when I feel like you are backing me up against a wall, what else would anyone expect?
When you put the pressure on me, I am going to react. And probably not well.
So, you see, its people like you that make me - and other great parents like me - act that way. Its people like you that make it so much harder to be a parent in the first place. Its comments and actions like yours that make me involuntarily flip the "bad mommy" switch. Its people like you that bring out the worst in my behavior and make me a bad role model.
If you want to see a parent at their worst, then publicly call their parenting into question. You will create your own "reality"; a 60-second highlight reel of all my poor behaviors rolled into one messy little mommy meltdown. Forget about the other 86,340 seconds of my day when I am actually on good behavior, diligently watching my kids, treating them with love and concern, and setting a good example of how to be a kind, compassionate, tolerant, model citizen. ....But no. You don't want to see that. You want to put the spotlight on what you perceive as my parental imperfections, and miss all the good that is me as a mom, choosing instead to provoke the "bad mommy" in me.
So yeah... You get what you ask for. You want to see a mom on bad behavior? Then state your opinion. Loudly. And publicly. Question me. Taunt me. Throw judgmental, sarcastic remarks my way.
But if you want to see a real, good, loving, carefree, and wonderful mommy, then keep your mouth shut! Let me do what I do, sit back, and enjoy the show.
How about you? How do you handle it when people judge and question you about your parenting (or anything, really)? How would you have handled this type of situation?