There's a slightly judgmental side to me that I try to keep hidden (if you've made it to my family and friends plan, you probably already know this). And I think that each of us has this tendency, at least every now and again, to look at other people's circumstances and think to ourselves, "If I were in that situation, this is what I would do instead...", or (more bluntly put) "What the HECK are they THINKING!" Before children (from here on noted as B.C.), I would look at other mothers and judge, ever so politely, knowing that I would certainly do things differently (AKA perfectly??)....
B.C., when a child would spill a glass of milk, I would imagine myself saying something like this: "Oh, Darling, it's alright. Accidents happen.... here, let me help you clean that up. Would you like another drink?"
In reality, I fear that my reaction is a little more like this: "SERIOUSLY? How many TIMES have I told you not to set your drink that close to the edge of the table! No NO NO, STOP licking it off the floor! And don't you even think of asking for another drink until you're 40!"
B.C., when I saw parents letting their children run amok through a church, I thought that I'd never have children that were anything but perfectly behaved, exhibiting superior self-discipline as they played tic-tac-toe quietly in the pew, sharing coloring books and getting along splendidly.
And now? Now, I'm the one with the children that scream each other's names at blood-curdling levels in the middle of worship as they share, not crayons, but pinches and right hooks. The only people being moved to tears in the service are my children.... after they've been sufficiently threatened to straighten up or they'll get an extra long dunking in the baptismal.
I feel ashamed to admit it, but I did judge other mothers out there from time to time.... and a particularly large judgement occurred when I was told by other mothers, "You just wait until you have kids... then your sex life will go out the window!" Thinking to myself I would say, Really? Who can't commit to at least three times a week? The kids go to bed by 8 pm, you do a few dishes, and then you sit down with your hubby for a little cuddle and B.C. time.... you're in bed by 10 and feeling fantastic for work the next day! And it's now that I realize that there are many, many more factors that come into play!
First of all, we have to take into account that the couple actually liked each other B.C. Therefore, having sex was an activity that was at the top of the Needs list. But once children suck the life out of both of you as you argue over whose day was harder, who left the fridge open, and who has to do those dang dishes, there is a definite possibility that sex gets moved down the Needs list!! (Probably just below "OBGYN visit" and just above "have a lobotomy".)
Secondly, once those chores are completely done, you're looking at closer to midnight, am I right? And midnight sex in your 20's is one thing.... but midnight sex in your 30's is like trying to make love while moving through tar.... the effort needed to make the simplest body movements is just sometimes not worth the exhaustion of it all! (And frankly, we aren't as fit as we once were.... no one wants to deal with a sweaty, asthma-inducing, back and knee aching activity that late at night! If there's not time to stretch before or clean up after, don't even go there.)
And finally, even though you realize you love each other, oh so much, there's always that tense wonderment of will they hear us??? Because you know that as soon as the first kiss is launched, naturally there will be a knock at the door asking for a drink of water, complaining of a tummy ache, or scared because they "heard a noise". (OF COURSE you heard a noise! Mommy's back went out again and Daddy needs an inhaler.... why is Daddy's face red, you ask? Because his blood pressure medicine isn't strong enough for sex now that he's a PARENT!)
Against all odds, my hubby and I were finally able to muster up the love, energy, and courage needed to produce our monthly hanky-panky (yes, monthly.... and we're pretty sure we missed last month's session, so judge away, you perfect Mommies, but this Mama now understands the difference between B.C. and REALITY!). We were actually both in the mood (at the same time!), the kids were sound asleep, and the baby had just finished his last bottle. The table was set and we were prepared to feast!
(Fast forward an amount of time that I promised my husband I would never share....) After all was said and done, feeling wonderfully blissful and cozy, I rolled over and sighed with contentment. It was then that my husband choked a laugh and asked me, "Um, honey? Did you know that you have a binky stuck to your back?"
"What?? No I don't.... really?"
"Yeah, it's actually stuck to your back.... you must've been laying on it toward the end there...."
The craziest part is that I didn't even feel it! You KNOW you're a mother when you have sex and end up with a binky stuck to your body like a star fish.
So, I've decided that judging other parents is an issue of the past. Afterall, I'm the one having monthly sex on my son's pacifiers. Besides, parenting is not about perfection. It's going to look different for every family, in every situation. My judgments are about as useful as tits on a boar hog, as my mother-in-law would say, so I might as well ditch my B.C. ideals and run wildly into the arms of chaos, fully embracing my perfectly flawed family. (And I'll be checking the bedding before next month, just to prevent future mishaps....)