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An Open Letter

Dear Strangers,

It has come to my attention that you think I’m a bad mother. Here’s how I know:

In church, you pointedly stare as we drag in after opening prayer and “tsk tsk” as I drag out a screaming boy 8.5 minutes later.

While in the park you make sporadic lunges toward my son each time he teeters in a precarious position on the jungle gym--all the while searching the crowd trying to decipher which is the neglectful Mom. (I’m over here! Under the tree reading my Newsweek!)

At the grocery store, when my two oldest leave my side to peer at the same Lunchable your son is gazing at, you huff past me and exclaim to your perfect son, “she doesn’t care if her kids are in our way!”

Later in the check-out line you gasp audibly and exclaim “Your son is going to FALL” as my seven-year-old gymnast deftly hoists himself from cart to conveyor belt and back again.

You look askance at my four-year-olds crazy hair, milk mustache and mis-matched socks and think, “I would never take my child out in public like that!”

When it’s time for us to do any air travel, you’re really unhappy with me. First off, I refuse to make my child hold perfectly still and keep completely quiet while we slog through line after line after line in the airport. When he throws a fit because the kid behind us has an ice cream cone, I just ignore him while you sniff pointedly and mutter about “discipline”.

Once we’re finally on the plane, you make sure I notice as you turn around with every tap on the back of your seat. Sometimes you exchange knowing pained glances with the flight attendant.

You frequently offer unsolicited advice about how I should dress my child for the weather, how to administer discipline, and how to parent in general.

So I think it’s time I made my confession. It’s scandalous, so hold on to your knickers.

It just so happens...that I don’t care what you think! (Sorry, but I did warn you.)

On Sundays I’m just happy that we make it to church at all. After changing a “baby blow-out” three minutes before departure, searching 4 different rooms for matching church shoes and racing back home to grab a binky, you’d think we’d give up and call it a day. But no, we trudge in for 5 minutes of spiritual enlightenment only to miss it because offspring #2 refuses to quit making car noises at the top of his lungs.

At the playground, the reason you don’t see anyone leaping towards the little dare-devil on top of the equipment is because I happen to know my son has a future with Ringling Brothers and the odds of him falling are slim to none. I also figure you’re hovering so close, if he does topple off, you’ll be there to break his fall.

When we’re in the grocery store, I know it’s even harder for my boys to be there then it is for me. I think it’s sorta cute that they want to share the wonder of Lunchables! Also, I’m fully aware that my seven-year-old is climbing on, in, and over the cart. And I’m aware that he could climb a shear rock face with no harness and not fall so I’m not worried.

As for my boys’ eclectic appearance, I learned long ago to pick my battles. The fact that Middle Child is dressed at all is a triumph considering his aversion to clothing. In my opinion, his milk mustache makes him look dapper, and after trying virtually every styling product known to man, I know that nothing short of a grease-gun will cause his hair to lay flat.

While traveling, you should realize that the small boy you’re overtly glaring at has been awake since 5 a.m. He missed breakfast and has been restrained in various vehicles non-stop for hours subsisting solely on peanuts and soda-pop. And I have asked him repeatedly to quit kicking your seat and quit messing with the tray table. But you should also know that if I press the issue too strongly the end result will be a 50 decibel screaming fit that I am certain would annoy you much more.

Last but not least, I really REALLY hope you’ll understand that I don’t need your advice. (Brilliant though it may be.) It just so happens I’m in pretty frequent contact with lots of smart people including my mom, sisters, friends, neighbors, church friends, school teachers, and pediatrician. We discuss discipline and parenting skills, what works and what doesn’t, and compare notes on children’s antics. I’ve discovered that as far as kids go, mine are pretty normal. But just to be sure, I read a lot, research things online and even pray for the welfare of my children and for myself as a parent.

So next time my kid bugs you, I’m not going to get too bent out of shape about it. Glare, huff, and mutter all you want. Because I DON’T believe it takes a village to raise a child. I believe it takes an awesome MOM. And it just so happens, that’s what my 3 adorable boys have!



This is Emily. She's an easily side-tracked mother of three (three!) extremely energetic (read: hyper!) boys. She's married to a pediatric dentist and lives on an Air Force base in...(wait for it...) Japan. Northern Japan, to be exact. She likes to blog and throw pots. Not at the same time. She see's blog comments as validation that she's a good person despite being a dork in Junior High. Go visit her at her blog (and comment) Acte Gratuit: A look at life between naps.

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