“YOU’RE AN UNINVOLVED MOTHER” you spat at me.
I’d asked you to make your son stop punching my daughter as they played before karate class and you made a comment about Pop’s inability to share. I said she wasn’t incapable of sharing but she was being hit so she was scared and frozen.
“YOU ARE FROZEN,” you hissed. “I watch you every week just sitting there on your phone, you’re an UNINVOLVED MOTHER.”
I said you had NO CLUE about the kind of mother I am, but here are some other things I would’ve said if I hadn’t burst into tears:
A. This is the first term our kids have shared a class. You think you know me after three weeks?
B. You WATCH ME every week? Maybe if YOU were more involved with YOUR kid you’d be watching HIM instead of me.
C. I’m more involved than any other parent at this dojo, which you’d know if you’d been here more than 6 minutes.
My son has anxiety. We go to karate to help him build his confidence.
I spent TWELVE MONTHS on that mat, doing the entire class next to him because he simply couldn’t do it alone.
Every class – start to end – the only parent on that mat.
One day, after months of tears (from both of us), cuddles, endless talks and bribes, he walked onto that mat without me.
I watched in awe, tears in my eyes, barely breathing.
He lasted a few minutes before his tears came and I ran back to his outstretched hand.
But it was a turning point. Each class he lasted longer and longer until one day he did the whole class by himself.
It felt like one of the greatest achievements of my life. I’d helped my baby feel brave enough to finally do it.
I used to look at other mums on their phones but NEVER judged them – because I wanted to BE THEM. I cried to my husband so many times about how lovely it must be to sit and relax, knowing your child was perfectly happy and confident without you holding their hand.
Your child seems pretty sure of himself so you wouldn’t understand.
I’m finally, FINALLY able to sit, wave at my kids as they run onto the mat, then pick up my phone to get some work done – because yeah, I also work three jobs while I take care of my kids. Is that ok with you?
We still have bad days. Two weeks ago I did half the class with Thud. Surely you noticed that, while you were watching me?
Did you also notice I spent most of last week taking photos and videos of my kids? Oh wait, I guess I had my phone in my hand then too? Such a shit mum.
Except I’m not.
I’m a great mum. A mum who gives EVERYTHING to her children but still feels inadequate and worried she’s not doing enough, so being told I’m uninvolved when I already feel guilt about working while they’re with me… it hurt. It hurt so very much.
It must be lovely to have absolutely nothing on your plate but to sit and gaze at your child all day long – and allow him to hit other kids.
But next time you judge another mother, maybe look at her kids and see if they really need you to step in. Are they being abused? Do they look miserable? Do they need your help?
My kids are happy. They’re extremely well behaved (in public). They love their mum. And sometimes they even *want* to play without me hovering over them because kids should be able to do that.
D. Fuck you
Big smiles here and the past few days are forgotten.
Because here’s the silver lining of having your character attacked: it forces you to look at yourself to see if what’s being said is true.
Any time someone says something nasty about me – whether it’s to my face or online, I always stop (usually after I’ve reacted) and wonder if there’s any truth to what they’ve said. Do they have a point?
My first reaction to being called an uninvolved mother was PAIN, because what she said is what I say to myself every day. Every time I ask the kids to wait a minute while I do something, or when I respond with a “hhmmm” when they’ve told me something I’m not really listening to, or when I’m making dinner and answering emails and trying to ask about their day. I’m always worried I could be more present or more engaged.
You could call me an aggressive mother or an abusive mother or a neglectful mother and I’d laugh it off because it’s so far from the truth.
But uninvolved? That’s what I call myself all the time.
When you attack yourself, there’s no one to defend you. You are at the mercy of your own mind and it feels like you have no choice but to believe everything you say.
But when someone else says it, you have two choices: agree with them and run away or stay and defend yourself. Fight or flight.
I always choose fight. And when this woman forced me to defend myself, I knew, without a doubt, she was wrong.
So, I’d like to thank my friend from karate for helping me see I need to stop attacking myself because I’m actually a great mum. Not perfect, but pretty damn good. She made me see that and I’m grateful.
You can follow The Thud on Instagram @TheLaurenDubois