Bethany Robson:

Moms weigh in on judgement, joints, and gender roles

Parenting is a nuanced, oft overlooked subset of the classic every-person-for-themselves jungle that we call “society”. It seems that when it comes to looking after our offspring, parents and caretakers revert to an earlier evolutionary state hidden deep within our ancient genes. In a way, it’s beautiful. A bond that can’t be explained even with modern languages lies at the heart of it. But… as nice as that sounds, it also brings out the absolute worst in us. In this subset of humanity, we each face a completely unique, and frankly terrifying, journey to attempt to produce functional adults.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t know a single mommy friend or dad buddy that hasn’t dealt with judgement from another parent. It can be about anything. Obviously, my interest lies in cannabis use, however, the list of other judgeable offences is massive. Kid uses a soother? Shameful. Allow thumb sucking? Dastardly. And you’re headed straight for hell if you feed formula instead of pumping until your boobs fall off or supporting a mother who does. I won’t even bother touching on what happens when you add social media to the mix. Change the age group, same story.

My interview this month took me to my first smoking buddy, Amie. We used to steal a toke after the kids were in bed. I’d tuck my sweet angels in and sneak next door to arrive back at some semblance of sanity. Amie also makes a mean cup of tea. Originally hailing from a little town in Ontario, she now calls Vancouver Island home and has for almost a decade.

Amie began as a recreational cannabis user in her teens and has always been a proponent, eventually using cannabis medicinally to help with migraines, and to help with sleep. She also uses weed to help with stress relief.

“The best thing about pot is stress management,” she said when I asked her what she liked most about cannabis in the context of parenting.

“It means I don’t yell at my child. I can be fun and calm with him when I might otherwise have a hard time being that way.”

Everyone has their own way of dealing with consumption and kids, so I talked with Amie about what her son knows, and what she plans to talk to him about when he’s a little older. He doesn’t really know anything yet, but “only because he’s so young and doesn’t ask.”

“I’ll tell [him] when he asks but I’ll likely just tell him the truth. I’ll also tell him that I hope he won’t use it himself until he’s an adult,” she said.

When asked about what she tells other adults, Amie said she mostly keeps the information to herself.

“Some people I don’t tell because it isn’t their business. Anyone else either knows or doesn’t by happenstance,” she said.

“I don’t go out of my way to tell anyone anything about it.”

Something that resonated with the concept of stigmatization and judgement during our chat, though, was how much Amie enjoys her job. Gender roles, while stigmatized for different reasons, are also a common point of judgement. If you don’t believe me, just Google working mom versus stay-at-home mom, but don’t say that I didn’t warn you. The dialogue is vicious.

Amie is fortunate: her husband is a stay-at-home dad to her almost-three-year-old son, which allows her to work full-time.

“It works for us. I love to work but I’m not a huge fan of paying for daycare.”

As a former working mom who also loved her job, my ears perked up. In my own situation, I often felt like I needed to tout the benefits of my family life and inundate whoever I was talking to with elaborate stories of how well my kids did without their mom. I was curious to see what her experience was.

“My main challenge has been feeling like I’m missing out on [my son’s] childhood. Like I’m not there enough. Balance between work and home is profoundly difficult. I think [my husband] faces more stigma than I do because of the standard roles of the sexes”.

The conversation had me thinking. Why is it parents can feel judgement and shame for our choices without cause or evidence, believing we have made wrong decisions, yet immediately inflict that same judgement on others? What business is it of ours?

As parents, we strive to make the best choices for our kids, whether that includes a mom with a job, or a joint at the end of the day so we can read a bedtime story. As a societal subset, we need to stop making excuses for the decisions we’ve made in our child’s best interest. We also need to stop judging people for theirs. In short, maybe parenting would be a little easier if we stopped being judgy assholes. Heaven knows, getting our kid(s) to the end of the day is hard enough.

Time for a smoke.