‘Parenting from guilt’ to me is peer pressure to conform to some accepted norm (like wearing shoes at the park). This was a little fun slice of my life from the other day.
We got to the park, I was armed with an extra jacket, a vest and the requisite food to sustain about a 2 hour park visit (because 2 hours is the requisite/maximum any toddler can take — right?!). As soon as we got there, Sweetpea decided that her jacket is the last thing she wanted to wear. It was cold out (or rather I was cold)! Her nose was (ofcourse) pouring snot. I really didn’t want her to take her jacket off. So we played zip down, zip up several times (the jacket finally stayed on). As I started talking to some of the other parents, Sweetpea decided that shoes at the park are strictly optional (thankfully I had put her on thick socks). I stood there like a deer in the headlights. In retrospect, I feel she was challenging me and saying you’re not paying attention to me mom so I’m going to do something I know I’m not supposed to do and see if you do anything. I really think that was what was going on but I didn’t recognize that at the time.
So as she began to parade around with her shoes on her hands…I started thinking. Ok, there aren’t any needles here at this tiny park, there isn’t broken glass or random trash….So I opted to ignore the behavior. I heard one father exclaim in horror that she didn’t have shoes on and did I know that????!!!!!! I felt like I won the awful mom award. Mortified, I explained that we’re exploring (????). I mean are shoes really that important? What would I be proving by forcing her to wear shoes. Eventually, we did decide that shoes were not the bane of our existence. So that same man saw me putting on her shoes. His horror that her socks were dirty made me feel even worse. I mean they’re just shoes right? I can wash leather shoes? Maybe? Maybe not? I mean I could wipe them out. Dirt does happen…as snot is now streaming out of her face (and ofcourse I forgot tissues…so I wiped with my hand and hoped no one saw me wipe it on her jacket….because believe me if there’s one thing this family does do…it’s laundry…loads and loads and loads of once-worn-clothes)…
I felt like I had a little hellion amongst all these nicely dressed little girls and boys. There’s my Sweetpea climbing the scariest/highest circle thingy, climbing on some too-high-for-her rocking airplane and running at the sight of an open door. I mean exploration is great right! Shoes really aren’t the end all be all. At the end of the park time, all I could think was…maybe that was her saying why aren’t you paying attention to me Mommy? Then I felt sad… I’m trying not to be helicopter mommy.