A Lesson in Tolerance and Quitting the Mom-Shaming
I always looked down on people wearing pajama pants in public. I thought it was lazy, indecorous, and — frankly — a little trashy. Honestly, how hard is it to put on some jeans? I even looked down on parents who brought kids in public in their jammies. Unless the kid is sick and on the way to the doctor’s office, or so young that all clothes look like jammies, teach kids about how to present themselves in public.
So I promised I would never be that kind of parent. My kids wouldn’t wear jammies to the store. I would always swap my drawstring for denim before I got in the car.
Then yesterday happened.
Budgie was fussy yesterday. I figured it was just his teeth (those 18-month-molars are a beast), so I let him fuss and squirm and whine. During naptime, I put the last load of laundry in: mine. For some reason, my laundry is almost always last. But that’s another post. Anyway, I threw all my pants in that load, except the ones I was wearing, and a pair of pajama pants that were still clean. I heard Budgie start his post-nap whimper, and it was nearly time to pick Binnybeans up from school.
As I took Budgie out of the crib, it happened. He puked. All over both of us. Not cute baby spit-up, this was full-out toddler puke. Chunky, sticky, toddler puke. I had about 10 minutes until we needed to leave to get Binnybeans, and Budgie and I were both covered in puke.
First things first: change the baby. Oh, how I loved baby wipes in that moment! I wiped him down as I stripped his onesie off. I pulled open his pants drawer only to find it nearly empty. There were a few pairs of shorts off of to the side, but no warm pants for him to wear on a chilly Wisconsin afternoon. Those were still in the basement, waiting to be put away.
I was closing in on 5 minutes before I needed to leave. He’s in a diaper and I was still covered in puke. I slammed the pants drawer shut and opened the pajama drawer. Warm, fuzzy, footie pajamas were waiting for me. Screw it. He’s wearing jammies in public. So I tucked him into his snowman printed p.j.s and set him back in the crib.
I had about 2 minutes, and I was still pukey. I looked through my closet as I pull my clothes off. No pants. I didn’t even have dress pants clean; I had a church event this past weekend and a job shadow. My options were shorts, sun dress or pajama pants. It was about 40 degrees and windy. There was no way I was going to wear a sundress or shorts yesterday. Nope.
I put on the pajama pants. As I pulled the flannel over my thighs, I heard all the judgy things I’ve ever thought about people who wear pajamas in public ringing through my head. What’s more, I know the people who would see me in the pajama pants. These weren’t strangers in Wal-Mart. These were parents of the other kids at my daughter’s school. They were going to see me as pajama mom.
But I had no choice.
I threw a thermal vest over my son as I went down the stairs. I shuffled my feet into a pair of slip-on sneakers as I zipped Budgie’s vest. Quickly, I buckled him into the car, then I peeled out of the driveway.
We got to her school with about a minute to spare. I pulled him out of his car seat and ran across the parking lot to her door. The other parents were there, waiting. They were all dressed nicely; they all looked so put together. And here I am, wearing pajama pants, lugging a toddler in footie pajamas. I didn’t even put his shoes on over them. I thought I was going to die.
It wasn’t the end of the world.
No one gave me the stink eye. I didn’t get any passive-aggressive comments about how cold Budgie must be without real pants on. The world didn’t end. However, I can’t be sure about what anyone was thinking. But at least no one gave me crap about my sartorial choices south of the border.
I think about it now like this. Which is worse: wearing pajamas in public or not picking my daughter up from school on time? Most definitely the latter. We all survived, and we all got home safe and sound.
Am I a pajamas in public convert? No way. I’m still going to do whatever I can to make sure we’re all appropriately clothed when we leave the house. And, honestly, I still think it looks lazy and kind of sloppy. Most of the time, wearing pajamas in public probably is out of laziness or sloppiness. Unless you have to be somewhere at a specific time, there’s time to put on something more appropriate before heading to the store. Those are my values as a human being and as a parent; we get dressed before we go out in public.
But I’m not going to be so judgemental when I see that mom show up at the doctor’s office or school pick-up in jammies. You never know what happened to her 15 minutes before. I don’t know if her smiling kid just had a blowout all over her lap, or if he lost his lunch on her leg. Maybe she can’t afford multiple pairs of nicer pants, and she just can’t wait to run that errand. Maybe the kid is autistic and has had an overwhelming day and just needs to be in some less stimulating clothing while they run to the store. I just don’t know.
It’s more than just pajama tolerance, though.
We have to be less judgmental in general. Just because someone is raising their kid differently than you are doesn’t mean that they’re necessarily wrong, or bad. Free range, helicopter, tiger moms… it doesn’t matter. What matters is that the kids are cared for, healthy, loved, and supported. I won’t judge you for hovering at the bottom of every slide, and I hope you won’t judge me when my kid runs around the playground, trips and bumps herself. You value a sense of security; I’m instilling resilience and independence.
All good parents do what they think is best for their kids, and we need to stop turning good parents into bad parents just because we disagree with their approach to parenting.
I’m not perfect, and sometimes I judge. But I’m going to work on stepping back when I judge people. I’m going to work on looking at the bigger picture. I’m going to let people be, and I hope people will do the same for me. Because I have enough to worry about; being judged by the other moms shouldn’t be part of it.