Once upon a time in a land far far away, there was a world full of wonderful caring and compassionate women who didn’t spend their days making other women feel like crap.
Then that world was exploded by a dark, evil, and condescending force into tiny little bits and pieces; those who survived have spent eternity trying to put back together the remains.
The Evil Witch will be played by: Judgmental strangers
The Heroine will be played by: Mothers who accept differences
The Setting: Facebooklandia
It all started with a picture. One solitary picture. Doesn’t it always? They, whomever “they” are, say a picture is worth a thousand words. I didn’t give mine so many- only 55, but since then I have come up with a lot more.
Sunday was a lovely day here, better than the rain we’d been experiencing for what felt like weeks- and when it’s nice out like that, we HAVE to get out of the house. No use wasting good weather right before ‘cold as balls’ sets in for relentless months on end.
We decided on Busch Gardens, especially since they had all of their Halloween decorations up, and as you all well know- I can NEVER pass up anything pumpkin and they have some kick-ass pumpkin cheesecake to snort up while watching Halloween themed shows. Win/win.
Of course, I’m well aware that every time we go to Busch Gardens, we will always have to make an extended stop at the animal preserve area. Busch Gardens is super into animals and Jack Hanna- who knew? Usually there are handlers out and about showcasing different animals they have; usually these consist of parrots, giant rats, and assorted lizards. Go fig during Howl-o-Scream, it would be snakes (thank the sweet grilled cheezus it wasn’t tarantulas or I would have taken off running in the other direction, pumpkin cheesecake be damned!)
I’m not terrified of snakes, but you can bet your ass if I saw one slither in front of me I’d freak out a little more than slightly- so yeah, I think the correct term here would be ‘scared.’ Obviously, I had no interest in touching the snake, and DEFINITELY not holding the beast- but the boys were so excited at the prospect that I couldn’t really justify slight fear as a reason to tell them no.
That’s kind of a part of parenting, isn’t it? Doing things you might not necessarily want to do, but it’s such a good experience for your kids that you just suck it the hell up and do it.
Being proud of my little fear-conquering accomplishment, I posted the photo on my Facebook page with the following 55-word caption:
Sweet, right? I sure thought so.
The next morning I woke up to a comment on this picture that caught me off guard. It was completely out of left field and I instantly found myself, for lack of a better word: annoyed.
I get crappy comments on my page all.the.time, but this one struck a nerve with me.
My blood started to boil and I could feel myself beginning to seethe. This is the exact kind of thing I speak out about all the time. The kind of thing that just shouldn’t happen. Questioning my parenting based on… THEIR HAIR? Telling me to put a clip in two little BOYS’ hair to keep it out of their eyes? Are we being serious here? Why??
Let’s make a few things clear before we move on
1) If you haven’t met my kids, you cannot assume their hair is in their eyes all of the time. It isn’t.
2) It’s JUST HAIR
3) It’s none of your damn business
4) The length of their hair has nothing to do with what parenthood is all about, you cannot break parenthood down to these “details”- there is so much more to concern ourselves with; IMPORTANT things.
But here’s the thing, that is not what bothered me the most about this woman’s statements on my children’s hair and my apparent lack of parenting skills due to it.
I shared the photo a few days after the fact in order to make a point, and when I did so I received a ton of responses that were all along the lines of “Oh their hair is fine!”
While that’s all well and good (and I totally agree), it was missing the point of WHY I was actually mad; WHY I chose to even bother responding to it or making any kind of spectacle out of the situation.
I wasn’t pissed that someone had expressed distaste for the length of my children’s hair. I could not give two shits less if someone doesn’t like their hair. If I’ve lived through multiple older folks walking up to my kids and mistaking them for girls due to their hair length (and one even suggested I was lying about their gender)- one little cheerio-pissing a-hole on a single picture telling me to cut their hair certainly wasn’t going to faze me.
The problem is that someone could look at that picture and instead of seeing the smiles on all of our faces and the happiness that exuded from them, past the caption that read how parenting is sometimes about doing things we don’t like to enrich the lives of our children- to miss out on the entire concept of the photo of a mother spending quality time with her children to just criticize my parenting because of the length of my kids’ HAIR. THAT is a problem; and it’s a rising fundamental problem with our society today.
The need to cut others down and make each other feel like crap over the most minuscule thing is happening more and more frequently- especially between women. Even more so between mothers. I wish I could tell you why, but I can’t.
If you can look at a picture of a mother enjoying time with her children and decide that the only thing you can see that is worth commenting on is the length of the child’s hair- perhaps you should get your vision checked. You should ask yourself WHY is that the only thing you found of worth to comment on; why would you feel the insatiable urge to ruin the message and beauty of a photo that is harmless to you?
Yes, Parenthood IS about details, “Judgmental Stranger”- it absolutely is… but none of those details include the length of one’s hair, or how often they get it cut, it’s not about the look of a single picture where this hair might fall into someone’s eyes. It’s also not about what brand of clothing we choose to put them in or how much they cost. Parenthood has nothing to do with forcing our children to color inside the lines, or how many dirty dishes are in the sink.
The details that matter are that our children feel love and supported no matter what they do or stupid choices they make; that we teach them compassion and kindness and forgiveness; that we don’t let the little shit keep us from doing something that can make lasting memories.
Life is too short to worry about the little things, and especially too short to waste our time making someone else feel bad over insignificant things that we may not agree with. Raising kids is the hardest thing most of us will ever do- why not support each other instead of attempting to convince others they are failures?
When will we all realize that no one person parents the same exact way as another? When will enough be enough? If we are doing the best we can for our children, and they are happy- that should be enough.
We each get one life, one chance to make the most of it- do you really want to spend your days making those days worse for someone else, or teaching your children that that kind of behavior is acceptable?
I’d rather spend my days trying to live weirdly, laughingly, and happily ever after.
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