Posted by Duff

I don’t care how anyone feels about my parenting.

That’s not true.

If I respect your opinion, and you treat me with respect, I care what you think. I assure you, there is no harsher critic of my parenting than the Dervish me.

I had a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” crisis over others’ opinions of breastfeeding that nearly split my psyche in three.  It’s hard to forget how that judgement, so freely given, stung. If I ever thought I had any right to govern what another woman should do with her breasts, I am now cured of that ignorance.

That was just one of many issues. Several times during the Dervish’s first year, my husband was accosted by supposedly well-meaning women our mothers’ age or older, stating that the Dervish was not dressed warmly enough. These women hadn’t seen me and my three thermometers constantly checking for fever. Outcome: the Dervish runs warm, and everyone pays if she overheats, period.

We let the Dervish climb too much. As if we had a choice. Her menus (though healthy, balanced meals) aren’t varied enoughWe held her too much as an infant. How is that possible? She doesn’t need a pacifer. This last one makes me want to invite all assailants to stand in the corner and smell themselves. Where were they during colic? During marathon teething when she wouldn’t accept anything else?

I. was.there. I have been since that very first second. This is why she comes to me first.  I am the one who finds myself next to her bed before I realize I am awake. Me.  There is nothing, no one, more important in my life. I have always done and will always do my best.

And so will you. Who knows your kid better than you? Not me.

When the Dervish was 8 weeks old, I ventured out with her for the first time, alone. It took me that long because she was prone to screaming herself purple for hours (her doctor assured me this was ‘normal’ fussiness) and I was prone to sweating myself stupid as a consequence. Anyone who ever heard her pitch during this phase said, “Dear God.

Before long, the Dervish hit her high note. I couldn’t unbuckle her from the carseat — my fingers just didn’t work. Suddenly, a grandmotherly woman (who said she could hear her from the other end of the warehouse store) was at my side, rubbing my arm. I finally got the Dervish free. As I rocked her, the woman said,

 “How lucky this baby is to have a mother who loves her as much as you do.”

That one sentence moved mountains. I wish I knew who she was, so I could send her some chocolate dipped, flower-shaped pineapple of gratitude. Her words are a gentle reminder whenever I need them, the kind of judgement all parents can benefit from.

This past weekend, some good friends who are pre-baby came over for dinner and our evening routine. These are two socially and morally responsible people with good intentions. They understand that all kids, like all adults, are different. Their opinion matters. And after the Dervish streaked on her way to the bathtub and brandished a wood door stopper and attempted to set new records in couch diving, they said, without prompting, “You guys are good parents.”

We hope so. We try so hard. We doubt ourselves daily. We feel tested. Like most parents. And since we won’t see the long-term results of our efforts for years, we need to hear — and tell each other — when we’re doing an admirable job.

Next time I see you, I plan to tell you as much. But if we’re chasing after our children and I forget, please know that I meant to pass judgement. The good kind.