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I watched my son play and interact with other kids at an indoor playground, hoping he blow off steam to have a good night's rest. He is such an active, outgoing, loving boy who enjoys watching other kids play and mimicking what they do (monkey see, monkey do. And boy is my little one a monkey). He particularly enjoys watching older kids at play and chasing after them trying to join there style of play. Maybe it's that he doesn't have any siblings to play with (no I don't think I will be adding another one to the mix), or that he's just outgoing and active and doesn't care who it is, all he wants is to PLAY (his favorite word, besides no please!). Either way he was having a blast and I love seeing him do what he does best.
Well today his style of play was not a fan favorite. I definitely got my head chewed off and to makes matters worse the parents decided to verbally attack my son accusing him of being "wild" (well if wild means active, outgoing and having fun, then sure I am wild too and my son takes after me, so be it!) But no, at this very moment "wild" meant that my son was being cruel, intimidating, in attack mode towards their daughter, mind you the girl never cried, she never complained, but her helicopter parents made it a mission to call me names, tell me I had no education and that I was "ghetto", due to the fact that my son was chasing after their daughter saying "let's play." Now, I'm going to keep it real, in my head I had a few choice words for both of them and let's just say I saw things happening in slow motion in a VERY different way LOL, but I kept my cool, I took several deep breaths and I looked at my son, who innocently looked at me with no regards to what those parents were saying about him and he smiled (best thing I needed at that very moment).
But something also happened to me when he smiled. My eyes filled up with tears and I felt belittled, angry, vulnerable and disgusted. Not about what those parents were saying about and yes very much so about their behavior towards my son but also about the fact that as I sat there in a room full of kids and parents, not one stood up for me to say anything. They all sat on their phones and if they had not been on their phones before they made sure to take them out in that moment and pretend they were invisible. No one bothered to ask me what was wrong even though my tears were becoming visible. Some even laughed at what the parents were speaking. It's as if I was in the middle of a comedy show and the parents were the audience enjoying the view, with no regards for my feelings or that of my son's.
What are we doing as parents, as a society and culture? How cruel have we become that someone else's misery has now become someone else's form of entertainment? And what are we teaching our children? We stand up at their school functions against bullying and play a role in teaching our kids that, yet we are mirroring the exact opposite to our kids. I could have responded in a very different way with how angry I felt, but what for? To teach my son to allow his emotions get the best of him, to teach him that violence is the answer, to teach him that his mother, his protector, his lead by example parent can't rationalize and be smarter about her decisions and I just fly by the seat of my pants?!
Why do we shame each other? Have we stopped and thought we are all in the same damn boat?! Were all parents, for the most part, a lot of us are, so why are we competing? Why are we on a mission to break the other one down and destroy their parenting style or better yet their kids morale and spirit?! Are we that bitter, that cruel, that disgusting inside that we must spew that venom onto others?! It sickens me, one moment of fun and innocence, in a blink of an eye, completely ruined! Have we stopped to look at our kids closely when they are playing, how free spirited and happy they are? What if we did the same? Hmmm, what if we actually embraced each other as moms, supported one another as moms, lifted each other up, validated one another, strengthened one another and empowered one another, seriously, what's the worst that could happen? We learn from each other and raise strong human beings that have open minds and open hearts to embrace all differences without questioning any of it?!?! That sounds wonderful to me. Wishful thinking, maybe, a dream, perhaps! But honestly, I refuse to fall into that vicious cycle, I refuse and will not break my sons "wild" spirit. So he wanted to play with the girl, what's the worst that could have happened?! He try to hug her and kiss her (yes my little one is very affectionate and loving, another thing I will continue to embrace and never shame him for that. I lied. I will prohibit all hugs and kisses when he chooses to leave me for someone else, OMG, why can't he stay my baby forever?!). But just imagine for a second we all shared a hug with others (your choice if you want to share the kisses too LOL), but wouldn't it be nice to know that someone showed you affection? I for one have gone through some rough moments, that receiving a hug from someone would have been heaven sent!
As I continued to sit there watching my son play (dammit I was not going to kill his fun for someone's ignorance and cruelty), I realized, I had not only been shamed about not "parenting" up to someone else's expectations or standards, but dammit now they had projected their crap onto me and I was beginning to feel guilty. Did I not notice my son's behavior? Maybe I should not have replied to that text? Dammit I should not have looked at facebook, I FAILED as a mother and someone else got pissed and pointed out how horrible I was at parenting.
Whatever it was, I'm glad I stayed put and allowed myself the opportunity to continue watching my son play because it not only gave me time to calm down and process what had just occurred, but it also gave me the gift of continuing to embrace and relish in the happy moments with my boy and there is nothing in this world that will ever break that for me!