Yesterday I witnessed a scene which brought back some not-so-distant memories. The scene involved a terrified 4-year-old boy who was being forced to face a large audience. The quivering boy did everything he could to hide within the folds of his father's suit jacket.
With great interest, I watched the reaction of those around me, expecting people to shake their heads and roll their eyes at such "papa's boy" behavior. Why? Because that's the reaction I've received, ever since my child was born, every time "mama's boy" wanted to hide within my folds.
Instead, people seemed mildly amused, somewhat sympathetic, and basically non-judgmental!!!! What the.......?
So what I've read is really true! Society truly does judge mothers (especially single mothers!) much more harshly than fathers.
A vivid nightmarish memory has pestered me since yesterday's demonstration of that phenomenon. My child was 3, and being the conscientious zealot that I tend to be, I had researched all available services for single parents and found a little-known program offered by the local school district. It involved free monthly home visits from early childhood educators. I was happy for any support in my parenting that I could possibly find.
During one visit, when the educator rang my doorbell, my 3-year-old began crying for me to pick him up. (Mama's boy behavior, indeed.) I had been practicing attachment parenting, believing that its effects would serve him well throughout his life. He was accustomed to being held, and I thought nothing of his desire for me to pick him up before opening the door to let the educator in.
Well, let me tell you, this educator was HORRIFIED that I would "allow a 3-year-old to control me" in such a manner! She entered my house and raked me over the coals for the entire hour, and demanded that I call her suggested child psychologist AT ONCE!
I did, and the psychologist had already been warned about me. She insisted that I hire a sitter for my son (even though he was already with sitters while I worked fulltime) and show up by myself. I followed her orders, and arrived for my appointment filled with trepidation. She proceeded to rip me to shreds, insisting that by allowing my son to "ruin" my life, I was ruining his! She flat out demanded that I "lock (yes, lock) my child in a room by himself" whenever he asked me to pick him up! I sat there and listened, stunned, for 50 minutes, then feebly stood up, (over)paid her, and said, "Your beliefs differ vastly from mine. I won't be coming back."
For the next 6 months, every time my doorbell rang I expected Children's Services, fearing that those professional witches had found a way to "blow the whistle" on me and my twisted parenting. How could I have been so fiercely attacked by other women, mothers themselves, whom I had called upon for support?
Somehow I suffered through that very difficult period, learning to get by with no support. A flash of clarity appeared as a fleeting gift one day, when I was given the message "This, too, shall pass". I chuckled at the thought of a 16-year-old boy crying for me to pick him up when the doorbell rings!