It was a simple conversation with my friend, but years later it haunts me. My thoughts that day cursed me with parent karma. Parent karma ensures that every thought you have that begins with "I will never" or "My kid will never" comes back to you. Those thoughts and comments will come back to you in the form of an experience with the very thing you previously judged. In the end, you will understand your rash judgments more than you ever wanted. The experiences may even leave you wishing you could go back and say you were sorry to those you judged.
That day at church, I stared bewildered at my friend and her daughter. Apparently, the daughter didn't like sandwiches and would not eat any kind of sandwich. No peanut butter and jam, no meat sandwich - nothing. Instead, she convinced the teachers to let her use their microwave for leftovers. Yep, I thought, My kids are never going to be that picky. They are going to eat whatever they get and enjoy those sandwiches for lunch. If I could go back and warn my younger self, I would. Never say never.
Not even two days into preschool I got tired of seeing uneaten sandwiches coming home and being thrown away. It was a waste of food, and my daughter was hungry every day. Nothing I could do would make her eat that sandwich once she was out of my house. My daughter is now ten and is already trying to talk her teachers into letting her into their break room. She hates sandwiches. Every day is a struggle to figure out what to send for lunch. Sometimes I just buy her a school lunch hoping she will eat that. I am so sorry I judged that lunch situation before I had a personal understanding of what it was like to be the parent of child who hates sandwiches.
I have heard many "I will never" or "My child will never" statements over the years.
My toddler will never walk around with a pacifier in their mouth.
I will never say, "Because I told you so"
My kid(s) will never disobey me.
My kid(s) will never sleep in the bed with me.
I will never use TV as a babysitter with my kids.
Once upon a time, we were all going to be awesome parents with perfect kids. We had it all planned out in our heads, and we just knew everyone else was doing it wrong. We would be different - better. Then we became parents, and some form of parent karma kept hitting us with challenges that we had previously judged.
Another one of mine came very quickly after my first daughter was born. I was determined that I would be one of those amazingly calm and loving parents. My friends and family would feel free to hold and love on my beautiful baby girl. I had watched others be so protective of their children you were almost afraid to ask to hold them. I was never going to be that protective.
Even before my husband and I walked into a church, I was making plans for my daughter's safety. It was winter - cold season - and I needed to keep her away from germs. My plan was to keep her in the car seat with a blanket over it and not take her out at all. When I went to feed her, I covered her in a blanket snuggled close to me. Then, a friend caught up with me in the hall. She looked at me with a twinkle in her eye and a smile on her face, as often happens when you are holding a newborn baby. She told me she was going to hold my baby just as soon as we were done with her feeding.
To say I freaked out would be an understatement. I totally panicked. All I could think was that I was not ready for anyone besides family to hold my girl. I wasn't ready to share her or risk her getting sick. The entire time Celia ate, I was racking my brain for a plan to keep her safe and not offend the lady. Finally I came up with a plan. When we were done I immediately took Celia to her father and gave him strict instructions not to let anyone else hold her. I was, and sometimes still am, a fiercely overprotective parent.
Parent karma got me because I said in my head I am never going to be overprotective. You never really know how you are going to handle a situation until you are placed in it. So if you are like me and parent karma has gotten you, don't worry - you are not alone. It is not too late to say you are sorry to those you judged.
My advice is when you have a thought that begins with "I will never" or "My kid will never" - just stop the thought. Bite down on your tongue and try to remind yourself of the parent karma you have already received. Otherwise -watch out! Parent karma will be heading your way in one form or another. You might just find yourself in that same situation, and it will look very different from inside.