Sometimes when we're doubting ourselves about something, and someone points out our perceived or real failures, it isn't appreciated at all. Especially when it comes to parenting. Especially when it comes from someone who doesn't know you at all, or anything about your personal situation. Even if they've been a parent.
That was my reality today as I tried to sneak downstairs to get the mail. My downstairs neighbor called me out by very nicely saying that as a former parent, and a man, and that my son will become a man, my son needs to get outside to play and get some energy out, like the kids that are outside playing everyday. All I could think of was that I wasn't wearing a bra with my tank top and hadn't really combed my hair at all, and my kid was in a pull up and tshirt. The white trash extraordinaire look for sure. My witty response to all this guilt spewed on me? "Well I work from home so..." He cut me off, but I was so shocked a neighbor was talking to me that I was speechless.
Let me point out that these kids who are outside playing have no parental supervision, tear things up (such as my car), and are much older than Noah. I'm glad their parents allow that if it works for them, but Noah is 3, so I'm pretty sure letting him run wild outside by a street with speeding cars will get me a DCFS case. Also, the man has no idea what my life is like right now. I know my child needs to be outside playing! I also know rent is due on the 1st and my ex quit his job so the child support may not come, and my financial aid isn't coming either. So I'm relying solely on working for 10+ hours a day to make sure I have enough money this month. My savings was already depleted by emergencies and unexpected events. So I'm flying by the seat of my pants and a prayer. To top off my stress this week, the ex isn't paying COBRA to keep his kid insured per the divorce papers and didn't tell me, so Noah's been uninsured!
Needless to say Noah's time outdoors is suffering and being in an apartment on the third floor isn't conducive to playing freely outside. I can't even let him on the balcony unless I can see him, which I can't from my computer area. I feel like shit already over this without someone telling me what I 'need' to do with my child. I have an exhusband who's great at that already. I have things for Noah to do in the house, including his trampoline, and the windows/blinds are wide open. I feel like I'm neglecting my kid because we only get Saturdays and sometimes Sundays to go to the park or to go to a local event. I only have short breaks during the day to feed my kid or get him to sleep. I am STRESSED OUT and until rent is paid the next two months, I'm going to be worried about money. There's nothing that can be done about this.
Also due to the stress in the house, Noah is acting out big time. The tantrums are out of control. Not sleeping is a given for us both now. He's defiant in his actions and his words. He's willful and stubborn in trying to get his way. He's had me in tears twice this week not knowing if I should give in or stand firm. The screaming for his stories and for milk late at night had to have helped spur this conversation with the neighbor occur. If I heard a kid screaming forever about milk at 11pm, which was his way of delaying going to sleep, I'd be pissed off too. Of course my irritation and yelling to "NO! GO TO BED!" probably didn't help either. I'm the dreaded horrible neighbor now.
So now I'm here second guessing my neighbor's motivation. Was it spurred by the 3 yo jumping around on his ceiling and all the active behaviors he has to hear? Is it the insane loud hysterical tantrums that even I can barely get through with my sanity intact? On one hand, I feel like if someone isn't a contributing member of my house then they can keep their opinions to themselves. On the other hand, I worry that I really am screwing up here and damaging my kid by not getting him outside to play. I hate doubting myself. I've had enough stress put on me this week. I already wanted to move so the kid could play & run in a yard while I work, but I can't right now. I know we're probably obnoxious neighbors and it sucks, but it's an apartment and he's 3.
I'm doing the best I can. I can't do more and I can't work less. Now I'm just going to try to keep Noah from being too loud, or jumping around too much. I'm going to try to keep potential tantrums from escalating, even if it means my kid 'wins' for the next 1.5 weeks. I'm really starting to wonder if looking for an 'office job' in this market is what I need to do so we can move, and so my child starts having fun everyday instead of just being stuck inside with his mom all day. I just don't know anymore. I don't know if I'm doing is right or wrong. I just know I'm feeling like the worst parent ever.