Family

Stop judging me!

On my personal blog, I already ranted about the adults who thought it was appropriate to chastise my husband and me for our daughter’s crying on a long-haul plane flight.Eo-scale2  I won’t rehash all the details here; you can read about it through the link and leave me some much-needed support.  (If your reaction is to support the haters, go away!)  Suffice to say, we were trying our darnedest to make the best of an awful situation, and two-year-olds can not always be reasoned with.

In order to understand the next part of my processing, you need to understand a few things about our family make-up:

  • My husband is Hispanic.
  • Both of us usually speak to my daughter in Spanish.
  • When out in public with just me, most people assume my daughter is white.

After having been berated by the other passengers, I started talking to my daughter in English.  I don’t think this was a fully conscious decision, but I was painfully aware of being scrutinized.  At the time, I really didn’t think about this as a concern.  In fact, in the days after the traumatic experience – for me, the angry passengers just needed a nap – I focused more on my not wanting to cause a scene, rather than analyzing the internalized fear I felt.  As time passed, however, this internalized fear of judgement and my need to “represent adequately” nagged at me.

Did I somewhere believe that speaking Spanish, and thus being viewed as a Hispanic family, could cause more criticism?  Did I unconsciously worry that these completely out-of-line people would use this as fuel to prove that all Hispanic families are bad parents?  Could Hispanic families be expanded to immigrant families?  Did I fear it would augment their rage and indignation?

Yes.  The honest, and painful, and somehow shameful, answer is: Yes.  I feared all of the above. And I switched to English.

As I have come to accept this as my truth, I have mourned not just for me, but for everyone who feels poster parent fatigue.

For me, it was my interracial Chilean child  that led me to pressure myself to be perfect in public.  Using Spanish makes our difference so visible and out there (although most people probably don’t notice or care).  Similarly, when solo parenting, I have desired to not be seen as an awful single mom – that in itself is a horrible thing for me to think, as I know and love so many wonderful single moms, both by choice and circumstance.  My sexuality is usually invisible, making that less of a current burden and not something I think about.

I guess each of us, with our myriad identities could potentially feel this poster parent pressure at some point or another.  Still, how awful when we do this to ourselves!  That we I (I should probably only speak for myself here) have internalized judgement to such a degree that it has become both invisible and a reality.

I’ll end this with a question to you: How do I not teach this internalized fear to my daughter?

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4 Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing this! Also, i promise you that mean people on planes live in very fragile glass houses! (Smash!)

  2. So thoughtful. I think you are on to something when you talk about fear. Our social performances like this might be very primal attempts to manage safety and anxiety. You’ve given me lots to think about!

  3. I have no answers for you. Aren’t I helpful? Hugs to you and your family though – tough stuff.

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