You have to walk a million miles in someone else’s shoes before you can truly know what she’s going through. You have no idea what goes on inside that mother’s home, the challenges she’s facing behind closed doors so before you open your mouth to criticize her parenting just so you can feel better about yourself, stop and think how this is going to make her feel.
Around two years ago, I found myself in the ER with my two kids who were running a fever. My son had it worse, he could barely open his eyes and we were dead worried because this was around Dengue season.
It was almost 12 midnight and we were in the ER waiting for an available doctor. I was in my work clothes, because you guessed it I came home late that day. I had to work overtime, went home late to see my kids running a fever. So we rushed them to the hospital. In my work clothes, in heels, looking like a racoon because my mascara was too tired it was literally begging for me to wash it off.
“I kept telling my husband I should’ve left the office earlier,” and he kept reassuring me that it’s going to be okay.
Lo and behold there was a mom there who recognized me. Her son is my son’s classmate and she approached me because she sees me drop off my son every now and then before heading out to work.
It started out as usual, asking each other about our kids’ illnesses. Well, more like her asking about my son and telling me this must be the school’s or the teacher’s fault. “it must be the aircon in the classroom,” she said . “They should fumigate in the school because what if these kids have Dengue and got bitten by mosquitoes in school,” she said. She kept saying “I haven’t been in their school lately” and I kept thinking so she’s always in school? I can’t remember the last time I was there for more than 30 minutes.
I was too tired, too stressed, too burned out to process what she was telling me so I just kept nodding my head in agreement. Until she started asking about my son and I had to explain to her that he’s been running a fever and that I’m so worried because he could barely open his eyes and he seems too weak.
To which she responded “Ay yung sa anak ko hindi naman ganyan ka lala [Oh my son’s condition isn’t as bad as your son’s]!” And I kept thinking “Okay so this one is one of those moms who like comparing their children or asking about other children’s misfortunes so she can declare how lucky her child is”.
And then as if to make it even worse she goes on to say “Ito kasi bantay na bantay ko sa bahay, binantayan ko talaga sya magamag and maghapon [I watch over my son 24/7, the entire night and the entire day” in that usual annoying judgy tone. “I’m a stay at home mom kasi so I get to focus on him, I get to really watch over my kids,” she added.
She was rambling more about her blessedness but I felt I couldn’t take it anymore so I turned around while she was still talking and walked away. My husband who saw the whole thing approached me and asked “One of them huh?”.
Her face was red, as if me walking away while she was still talking was something so despicable. She went back to her seat and whispered something to her companion. And I was seething mad. I know where her comments were coming from.
Because I am that mom. That one who’s so busy working I keep missing PTA meetings. That one who keep forgetting to open her child’s diary so she sends her son in uniform when they’re all supposed to be in costume. I’m that mom. The one who drops her kids off and drives away in a hurry. I’m that mom with the kid who’s always with the nanny even in events when everyone else has their parents—mine is with his grandmother or his nanny.
I am that mom who sends her child to school with cookies because I don’t have time to make those little bento things. I am that mom they gossip about for not being there all the time while they sit in the benches waiting for their kids in school.
I sat there in the ER holding my tears back, the guilt was replaced with anger. At this person who wanted to judge my parenting, who used me so she can feel better about herself.
She didn’t care to find out that I was having such a stressful time in the office. Of course she didn’t even care to find out our situation at home.
That on top of my work responsibilities, and my parenting duties, I had to drag my entire family back to my mother’s home because I had to be there for her because she was dying. That I was having one of the darkest periods of my life watching my mother battle dementia. Getting only 2 hours of sleep at night before driving myself to work because my mother had 2 to 3 anxiety attacks in the middle of the night.
That the day before our ER visit I had to carry my mother to the hospital and that I had to cry in the bathroom because my mother asked me if she was ever going to get better. And I knew that she wasn’t.
She didn’t care that I cry myself to sleep at night feeling helpless because my mother was dying, that I miss spending time with my kids and that I don’t even have time to cut my own fingernails anymore.
This woman, this vile woman didn’t care that I was at my wits end holding it together. All she really cared about that night was making herself feel better, and easing her own guilt because despite all her efforts her child, like mine, is sick. So she used me. She stepped on me so she can feel better about herself.
A few days after that incident I had to go to my son’s school for an event. And there she was. In the middle of a crowd, all eyes on her. She was telling her mommy friends about something fabulous, all the others stood around her listening to her story of how blessed she or her kids are.
And so I figured who I met that night in the ER. I met Regina George! A mommy version of the high school bully who prey on other people so she can rise above and feel better about herself.
I had rehearsed things I wanted to tell her in my head for the next time I see her in school. When it finally happened and I saw her again, I just kept my distance. Looking at her so hungry for attention and approval from her mommy friends made me pity her instead. Because I know deep down inside her is a guilty mama just like me, a mother who feels she’s not good enough, a mother who feels inept at times. She probably cries at night, or prowls the Internet for mothers to bully so she can feel better about herself.
I decided not to confront her.
I decided I am going to reach out to all the parents who’ve been victimized by the Regina Georges of the world. All those who cried themselves to sleep. All those who felt bad and are now scared to ask questions or reach out for help.
I decided I am going to find a way to counter Regina George’s culture. I am going to make it okay for parents to admit that they are flawed, to freely talk about their guilt, to openly ask for help when they need it. Thanks to that mom for inspiring me to start this blog.