I often watch other mothers with their children and automatically assume something about them.

I can’t help it, I am only human.

If I see a mother frazzled and frustrated, I feel a kin to her and want to go over, hug her and tell her that I feel for her.  If I see a mother with multiple kids, all pressed and clean, hair neatly fixed, manners in check and her herself with make – up, nice clothing and obviously showered, I think “Nanny”.

I can’t help it.  I am only human.

Because of my natural assumptions, I often wonder what other mothers think of me!

When it was just Katie, I worked and took great pride in getting her to the sitter, clean, happy and in a pressed, matching outfit.  Even with my additional 40 pounds from her pregnancy – it’s water weight, I hear, and will come off any day now – I tried to look my best.  I was a new mother after all.  And new mother’s are aglow and proud and happy.  And I took everyone’s opinions on what I should and should not be doing with this child to heart.  Despite my instincts!

After Sarah was born, I stopped worrying so much about what other people thought.  I was a stay at home mom now and I had a job to do.  I had to keep them alive and somewhat unscathed, and prevent them from breaking anything or anyone that I could not afford to replace.  Worrying what other people though went out the door with my willpower over chocolate.

So you can imagine, after Megan was born and my husband’s job became more demanding and my “oh I love new babies” help faded, I was on my own to raise them to be respectable members of society.  The gloves were off.  I was badly outnumbered, severely under trained and completely overwhelmed.  And thus was born my no nonsense parenting style.

Even my friends have to admit, I am not a coddler.  I do not sweet talk my girls and pamper them like they probably deserve to be.  I am a rough around the edges, seams stressed to bursting, sandpaper on a wall kind of a mother.  I don’t put up with a lot and am a take action, don’t ignore it kind of parent.  And I don’t care who is watching – let’s just be honest.

Now, I am not abusive.  We have never spanked in public and even struggle with doing it at home when things just get out of hand.  I was an abused child before I was adopted and I have severe emotional distress about spanking.  Fearing I will repeat the cycle, I have to be very, very careful.

But, I am a yeller.  And I don’t care where I am or who I am with.  I’ll scream at these kids across a crowded room of monks if it will get their attention.  I’ll stand there, hands on my hips, looking like the headmistress of a military boarding school yelling like I have no common sense – or legs, apparently.  I’ve seen the looks, the raised eyebrows and the cell phones come out to speed dial CPS should I do something others deem inappropriate, but I don’t care.  I have three daughters that I love dearly that I have to take home to Daddy.  And if yelling at them to please stop climbing on the bookshelves at a book store helps me do that, I am game.

I do wonder though, what people think of me.  In my 2 day old outfit, dirty from children’s hands, wrinkled from falling, exhausted, face down in bed, meant to be changed if only I have not overslept the alarm clock and was late getting them to school.  Frizzy hair tied up in it’s permanent pony tail, no makeup in sight, trying to remember if I took 2 seconds to put on deodorant.  Standing, yelling, looking like I escaped from some sort of institution.

I can’t help it.  I am only human.

My friends know I try.  And they know my heart.  And how much I love my life and my children.  They also know how incredibly hard and frustrating it can be raising these girls.  Mostly because they have their own challenges with their kids.  We all comfort each other, listen to each other complain, and celebrate each other’s accomplishments.

My husband thinks I am mean to them.  But I know, that is his job.  Because he is the coddler, the playmate, the friend.  And though he steps up and lays down the law sometimes, he would much prefer the “I make them laugh” role.  I am fine with that.  One day, I will be fun again too.

I’ve given up on everyone else.  Enemies, frenamies, extended family and faces in cyber space have all had opinions and harsh words for me about my mothering.  I figure that they are not in my life enough to really make a difference.  So I take that they say, add it to the pile and move on.

Gone are the days of trying to make others think I am a good mother.  Now to the days of actually being one.

And these days are messy, and wonderful, and scary.  So I do what I know.  And I know that I have to be stern and consistent and unpopular to get my job done.  Despite the perceptions of me.

I can’t help it.  I am only human.