Unfiltered Mommy

An honest view of parenting in today's world

Keeping Up in North County

on March 7, 2014

I live in what is considered North County San Diego. It is a beautiful collection of quintessential beach towns stretching up the Pacific Coast from La Jolla to Oceanside. It is a wonderful place to live and raise children. The weather is perfect and the scenery is gorgeous. For the most part, people here are pretty laid back. There is a strong surf culture, and the area is also a big vacation destination. I actually credit the move here with helping us conceive our oldest since we struggled with infertility for four years prior to moving here. Despite all the wonderful things about this area, we still have our fair share of judgmental assholes. I encountered one just the other day at a local Rubio’s. I was there with the two girls when my youngest was about six weeks old. Ms. Judgey Eyes, as I like to call her, was there with her husband, daughter and son. I was looking at her son’s hat because it was from one of the schools that I was researching for my oldest. After ordering and settling down at a table, I noticed that Ms. Judgey Eyes was staring at me from across the restaurant. I took a quick inventory: nope, everything seemed to be in order. My oldest was safely strapped into her high chair. My youngest was sleeping peacefully in her car seat/Snap-n-go contraption and all my clothing was zipped, tucked and covering all the right places. I wondered to myself, “What in the world is she staring at?” Being a social worker, I try to give people the benefit of the doubt. It’s a little something we learn in school called Strengths Based Perspective. We look for a strength to focus on rather than looking for a weakness or some kind of pathology.

Judging by the clothing that the Judgey Eyes children were wearing, and the fact that they attend this very elite school, I am guessing they are pretty well off. Now I like to think that my husband and I earn a pretty good living but I am also quite frugal. Especially when it comes to buying baby items or clothing that our children will use for a short time. I don’t buy $50 shoes for my toddler and I am always looking for ways to save a few bucks by shopping sales and using coupons. I want my kids to look good but cannot justify the overinflated cost of designer clothes that my kiddos will outgrow by the time the credit card bill comes. If Ms. Judgey Eyes wants to buy overpriced items for her children, that’s her prerogative. Maybe she has more disposable income, owns a children’s clothing boutique or has a passion for fashion. Whatever the reason, I was uncomfortable with the way she was looking down at me.

This experience got me thinking about the pressure to “keep up appearances” in today’s parenting world.  Whether it is having the hippest clothes, fancy stroller or attending the newest trendy preschool, there are a lot of things that can make a new mother feel like she is not doing enough for her kids even though none of this really matters. Let’s face it, children don’t know if you bought their clothes at Juicy or Goodwill. They don’t care if the stroller you bought was $75 on Craigslist or the new Bob with the $600 price tag. What they will remember is the love and time you spent playing with them. Why is it that moms feel the need to judge one another? Can’t we just support one another? It always seems strange to me since we all belong to the same “club” and we all know how hard it is to be a mother. I really wanted to go up to Ms. Judgey Eyes and call her out on her snooty-ness, but I didn’t. I bit my tongue and forgave her. After all, she did look pretty unhappy as her husband as his guzzled his beer at 11am

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