I am a little excited. This afternoon, a mother with her two kids is coming to visit. We haven't met before, but wanted to meet other families and children to befriend our own.
This must be somewhat similar to what blind dates feel like. Some signals indicate that we might be a good match, about to start a meaningful and long-lasting relationship. Or maybe it will turn out to be just an awkward time for everyone, eagerly waiting for the (play)date to end.
From where I stand, the reality is harsh: there is a lot of pressure to be the perfect parent, perfectly raising our children to be perfect. Imperfection is acceptable as long as that means that - just this once - your child's super-foods-only-snack includes one piece of fair trade local vegetable that is potentially not organic. You will be embarrassed, of course; thoroughly and quietly judged, but still forgiven.
We, mothers, are hard on ourselves. Merciless, even. And so are we towards other mothers. Going online is a sure way to enhance this: the wonderful photos, the condescending (at best!) comments, the finger pointing.
The relationship with the last young family I got to meet was impacted by this. I felt judged, and got the impression the other mother was defensive. In the beginning I was certain I was innocent, but now I wonder. Was I analysing the way she talked to her children, looking for signs or flaws in her pedagogic approach? It is hard to tell for sure. What is certain is that suddenly this is what we do to each other, to some degree or another. Looking back, I have already felt a flash of horror seeing a kid getting lollipops at the playground, a mother grabbing and shaking a kid's arm after he pushed another. Do I have the same bar when it comes to dads? Or would I just smile at the fact that a man took his kid out to play and have some quality time together - with a special treat included?
Am I guilty of perpetuating this? If so, I pledge to do it no longer. I will fight ugliness - not with ugliness, but with beauty.
Strangers are just friends we haven't met yet
So today, I am excited. We are meeting our friends for the first time, and friends support and care for one another. They are such a beautiful thing.