Guilty. I was that mean mommy. You know the one all the perfect parents shield their children's eyes from? Yup, that was me.
To make matters worse, it happened on vacation and afterward, I hid in my hotel room hot with shame. My husband, on the other hand, got to be the nice daddy and take the boys surfing on a fake wave and happily played in the pool, never once fretting about how saggy his boobs looked in his four-year-old bikini.
No one knew I hid in shame. My daughter was conveniently feeling sick, so actually I looked like a doting mother forgoing the fun in the sun to take care of her, which honestly made it worse.
It all took place on a beautiful day with a sunny, desert mountain view. We were in a resort town. I didn't have to cook, clean, make the beds or unclog any toilets. I was on vacation. I should have been a happy mommy! I should have been a relaxed mommy!! I should have been an AWESOME mommy!!! But that was not the mommy I was channeling that day.
In part, I am going to blame my newly teenaged teenager. He was quite the typical adolescent on the trip. And although I attempted to quell his angsty derangement, his hormones were seriously killing my R&R. My patience was shot. But he was just the spark. It was actually the kid my teenager insists is my favorite -- my youngest son - who bared the brunt of my mommy-rage.
What led to my embarrassing display wasn't even that serious of an offense. It was one of those, "time to go and put your shoes on" scenarios. It took place at the pool, in front of a bounty of overly tanned and seemingly underfed absolutely perfect mothers with perfect boobs in fresh-off-the-runway bikinis.
After the third calm request of, "We have to go. Please put your shoes on." I'd had it. I snatched him up by his arm and hissed, "Let's go. NOW!!!"
"OWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!!!" he yowled, and suddenly I felt all sets of eyes on me as the pool area fell silent in disbelief that such trash had slipped through the exclusive and snooty gates. I immediately dropped his arm.
"Come on sweetie," I assured him in my doting, attentive, ever-patient mommy voice that I conjured up on the spot, hoping to ensure the horrified public that the minor in my care for the rest of his life was perfectly safe with the deranged-looking lady with the hopelessly out-of-date bathing suit. "We need to go now. Then we'll get ice cream. And a pony!"
My son skipped off compliantly as I smiled in shame at the head-shaking, tongue-clucking crowd, regretting never having fully completed my tooth-whitening regimen.
I am sure the second I left everyone forgot about me and resumed drinking, tanning and well, drinking, but I just couldn't shake it. It's terrible to have a bad moment with your kid, it's horrendous to have that moment in public with unsympathetic witnesses. And so? What did all this humiliation lead to? It led to me to the realization that I too have been an unsympathetic witness. I too have turned my back on my parental brothers and sisters and I too have judged them in their weakest of public moments.
So to my fellow moms and dads -- whether we wear Jimmy Choo's or flip-flops to the pool! -- the truth is, we are all just trying to keep our heads above the proverbial waters of parenthood. Let's throw lifesavers to one another in place of anchors. And may we always remember the rule: (We are) never swim(ming) alone.