I’ve already apologized here to the parents of clients that I’ve worked with. It only seems fair that I apologize to parents in the general population as well. All those parents whom I judged prior to having kids of my own.
My life is forever marked with a distinct before and after sequence. Life before Gus and life after Gus. Life before Gus was filled with all sorts of ideals and expectations for how I would be as a parent. I can’t tell you the number of times I watched interactions between parents and their kids thinking, my kid will never do that.
Just one example for you. I was especially judgmental of kids with snotty noses. I don’t like snot. Sure, no one does, but I am particularly aversive to it, especially to the green and yellow crust. It triggers a slight gag reflux in me. Every time I would see a kid at Target or in a restaurant with a crusty nose or watery snot nose that they were repeatedly using their entire arm to wipe meanwhile rubbing it across their cheeks, I would look towards the mom, hoping she could read the disgust and disdain in my eyes. How dare she let her child run around with snot like that? When I had my own kids, I would never let them run around with snotty noses.
Fast forward to my own child. My first experience with a child and a cold. I had no idea it was humanly possible for a nose to run so much. The first time Gus got a serious cold, both his eyes and his nose poured. It was as if he had sprung a leak somewhere in the back of his brain and it had to constantly ooze out. At first, I tried really hard to keep up with it. I fought the good fight even when he recoiled from the Kleenex as if it was lined with razor blades. The first thing I discovered was how constantly wiping it with Kleenex quickly led to it being red, irritated, and chapped. Note to self.
The next go around with a cold, I developed a new strategy. I used a wet towel that I kept warm. This decreased the amount of red, chapped, nose and face. However, my entire day was spent chasing after him and wiping, and wiping, and wiping. Each wiping accompanied by his shrieks and whines. Imagine my surprise when I discovered how often kids get sick. They are like germ magnets. And if they are around other kids which Gus was all the time it is a constant exchange of germs and gunk. I finally gave in. While we were at home, I just let the snot run. I allowed myself about one wipe every hour, but sometimes I spread it to two. He was much happier about it and so was I.
I still kept up my vigilance when we were outside of the house. But as most of you know, snot is entirely unpredictable. He could be completely snot free one minute and the next minute, I would look down at him in the cart and there he was covered in it. And if a childless woman happened to see him at that moment, I am certain she was filled with disgust and revulsion in the same manner I had been.
So, to all of the moms in my life pre-Gus, it is your turn. You can consider this my formal apology to all of the judgment and hostile stares blasted at you. I am sorry. I didn’t have a clue.