Just like most parents, as much as I think and want and try to be a good parent, there are moments where I fail, which is horrendous. And there are moment when I'm sure I'm being perceived as a bad parent, which is almost as bad.
In one of our crazy days of picking up Riley and getting Sylvia where she needed to be, we had about 20 minutes to eat. Perceived bad parent example #1: we went to a fast food place. And, of course, ran into people we know. Well, hey, they can't accuse me of being a bad parent because they're eating there, too, right?
I avoided perceived bad parent example #2. I wanted to go to the Starbucks next door while the girls ate, but because of the other family there, I didn't. I know my girls can handle eating their burgers without supervision, but I decided it wasn't worth the potential eyebrow-raising. (And would you believe that the fast food restaurant didn't serve coffee? All family-friendly restaurants should serve coffee!)
Perceived bad parent example #3: I checked my Blackberry. I had left work early and wanted to make sure everything was fine at work. I answered one email, and then put it away. But I'm sure someone in that restaurant was thinking, oh, she's one of those moms.
I performed this same bad parent example when I took Riley to the eye doctor. It happened on a day where something absolutely had to be done, and I really shouldn't have left work that day, but at the same time, canceling dr's appts is costly, and Riley really needed new glasses so I put my child first and took her to her appointment. And I know the other mothers thought I was obnoxious when I was on my cell in the lobby, but then there's that other bad parent example; not being attentive enough to your job. More importantly, I do actually take pride in my work, and getting things done. And it had to get done. So yeah, in lieu of sitting with Riley while she was in her exam, I got it done. When she came out of the exam, the cell phone and Blackberry were put away and I was there with a pair of glasses I thought she'd like. (Which she did.)
When I see a child melting down in the grocery store, and a mother looking frazzled, I try to catch the mother's eye, and give her a compassionate smile. I get it, I've been there. It would have been nice if one of those other mothers in the eye doctor's lobby had done the same for me, but I can swallow the perception from them that I was/am a bad parent. I know that's just not true. I'm just a parent, doing the best that I can, getting us through the day, one meal at a time.