I have two children. A three year old little boy and a one year old little girl. I’m a parent but I still have A LOT to learn. And just like any mom with grown children will tell you, the days are long but the years are short. That couldn’t be more true. I’ve also learned that there is nothing in my life that I am more judged for. Seriously. The mom judging and mom-guilt are out of control. If you are also a mom, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
I have also learned there are two main types of reactions moms have. We are either over reactive or under reactive. Meaning, there are moms that see a bruise on their child and immediately begin diagnosing iron deficiencies and leukemia risks. And her arch nemesis, the under reactive mom….uses duck tape to keep from taking her kids to the ER for stitches. I mean, if it can stop bleeding after several changes of band-aids it’s okay, right?
Just in the last 48 hours I have been accused, numerous times, of being the over reactive mom. And that couldn’t be farther from the truth. I don’t really think it was a fair assessment. And I need to shed light on why. Will it solve anything? No. But the mom judging and shaming needs to stop. It happens unintentionally because we think we are offering words of wisdom or a comforting sense of optimism. But the truth is, we aren’t. We’re telling each other that we know nothing about the details but decided to downplay their situation, anyway.
His name was Bobby. We grew up together. Kind of. He lived in the house right behind mine. We would simply jump the chain link fence and be in each others’ back yard. He had a trampoline and a kick-ball field. When it was just him and his sister, MaryAnn, they used it for him to practice pitching. He was a really good pitcher. I can still see little MaryAnn crouched down in that catching gear with her long blonde hair dragging in the dirt.
He was my first little boyfriend.
He was also my first kiss as a little girl. I remember the first time he held my hand. It was freezing outside. We were sitting on the swing in his backyard and we were about to have to go inside for supper. I had on this huge pink puffy coat. He went to grab my hand and grabbed my arm instead. I tried to pull my arm back some so he could reach my hand but he thought I was trying to pull away. Poor kid. He ran inside. I jumped the fence and went home. He apologized the next day but I explained what happened and we laughed it off.
He also bought me my first Valentine’s gift. I don’t remember where I was, but I remember coming home and my dad telling me that Bobby had walked over to give me a gift. It was a huge vase of a dozen red roses, a balloon and a gold bracelet. Seriously. Dad said I needed to go right over and thank him. There’s no telling how much that bracelet costs. We were just kids. Maybe 7 or 8? I still have it. You see…
Bobby developed cancer.
He had been complaining of leg pain and after the xrays and tests, they discovered cancer. I remember when he lost all of his hair he was so ashamed. So my dad and my brother and Bobby’s dad all shaved their heads, too. I will never forget the look on Bobby’s face when we all knocked on his door and there we stood with their heads bald. I remember being able to go into his bedroom and just talk. I discovered he had a HUGE love for Mariah Carey. Seriously. He knew every word to every album. Still to this day when one of her songs comes on the radio I smile because I think of him.
He made it to high school. I would always see him walking home and try to give him a ride. Sometimes he would get in, and other times he would refuse because the doctor said it was good for him to walk. It was hard driving away. He was always limping. His family moved to Texas so he could get better treatment and I never heard from him again. My dad later told me that he had passed away. I never got to see him or say good bye.
The next time I experienced anything like that was in college. There was a young mom in my English class. Her 18 month old son also started having trouble with one of his legs. He, too, had cancer. I didn’t know her personally. Just through class. But I couldn’t help but think about Bobby. He was freshly on my mind for a while after that.
As my friends began getting married and having children I would sometimes hear them mention their sons having bad growing pains in their legs. My heart would race with anxiety thinking about the possibility of it being cancer. How would they know if they automatically assumed it was growing pains? How long would their sons go with cancer before they even guessed to check for it? Still, I never mentioned it.
Fast forward to my own parenting experiences…..My son recently woke up in the middle of the night crying from leg pain. Out of nowhere. The next morning I discovered that he couldn’t walk on it. He couldn’t even put weight on it. Just before bed the night before he was running, jumping and laughing. It just didn’t make sense. I have to make sure you know, I didn’t automatically assume it could be cancer. All I wanted was for someone to x-ray it. I just wanted to see if we needed a walking boot or cast. I just wanted an explanation for his pain. When the x-rays came back clean as a whistle….THAT is when I thought about my past experiences with little boys with unexplained leg pain. So when I got several responses about being an over reactive mom….I was offended, angry….and, well, just outright pissed. These people have no clue about my family’s prevalence with multiple types of cancer (it’s literally how we “go”). They have no idea about my life experiences with just this one type of issue.
Truth is, I’m the opposite. Us under reactive moms often hear phrases from nurses and doctors like, “Poor thing, he must have been hurting for at least a week now,” “I can’t believe you didn’t notice any symptoms,” “why did you wait so long to bring him in?” So, no….I’m not over reactive. When my son’s xrays came back clean and he is still in front of me crying and unable to use his leg, thinking about the possibility of cancer is actually pretty normal for me. I understand it’s rare. And by the way….jumping to the conclusion of cancer isn’t the “worst case scenario.” If it is for you, consider yourself lucky.
And from here on out…..drop the mom judging and shaming. If you see a mom with a worry for her child only offer her what she is asking…your prayers. She doesn’t need your uneducated opinion on her situation.
He’s doing fine now,
Your Mediocre Mom