Do not judge any mom who wears pajamas at school drop-off

Angela Milnes has a good reason for wearing pajamas to school drop-off, and it has nothing to do with being “lazy.”

Mother and blogger Angela Milnes and her daughter Sylvia.The Inspiration Edit

A recent request by a school principal asking parents to not turn up in pajamas when dropping off, or picking up their kids, seems pretty reasonable. Some might say that it is sad that the request (in the form of a letter) had to be sent out at all—can you imagine this happening when our parents did the school run? It tactfully explained: “It is important for us all to set our children a good example about what is acceptable and appropriate in all aspects of life, not only from the point of view of their safety and general well-being but also as preparation for their own adult life.”

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On the surface this makes sense. Yet maybe we need to look a little deeper into why parents are turning up in nightwear. Could it be they’ve been up all night with a sick child, or been nursing a new baby and they’ve literally jumped into the car to make sure their third grader arrives on time? Or in the case of 33-year-old Angela Milnes, who wrote a letter in response to those criticizing, judging and labeling her as “lazy” for her unsuitable attire, maybe there’s a health issue at play that leaves the sufferer in pain or with great fatigue and the fact their child has arrived at school at all is an achievement in itself.

Here’s an extract of the response Angela, whose blog The Inspiration Edit tries to inspire everyday families, wrote to her critics explaining her extra-casual attire. I think we can all give her a pass, don’t you think?

… I’ve heard parents who are supportive of the head teacher, and I’ve also heard some judgmental assumptions, comments and opinions. … While some parents may appear ‘lazy’ and ‘disrespectful’ by wearing PJs to school, this is actually a major assumption and a massive generalization, and in my opinion an unfair and biased statement. … I am very unwell. I have a number of health conditions that are not physically visible. In fact, I classify myself as someone who has an invisible illness. Some days I can barely walk; I wear pajamas in the home most of the time. Everything I do demands so much of my energy, and most days I choose to stay in pajamas to be comfortable and reserve energy for more essential tasks, like meeting my child’s needs or attending an appointment. … While some people may be healthy enough to get changed, they may struggle in the mornings to get their child to school dressed, fed and on time. … We do not know every parent’s situation. We don’t know what others are going through mentally, emotionally or physically, and quite frankly, I find it rude and ignorant to label all parents who choose to wear pajamas to school lazy and not fit for society. I am a good mother, a fabulous parent, and the fact that I may wear a set of pajamas to school at times does not determine who I am or what kind of person I am. … I am concerned other parents who may struggle with poor energy levels may now be stereotyped. There is so much more consider than looking at someone and judging them by their appearance, and I feel this happens far too often in our society.

So before we cast a disapproving eye or pass judgement remember that things are not always as they appear on the surface. Fr. Aquinas Gilbeau, a teacher in moral theology at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, DC., reiterates this point: “On the one hand, in a world where it seems increasingly acceptable to wear pajamas in public—see any American college campus—I’m happy there are still places where public displays of bed-wear cause a double take. On the other hand, presuming the worst about someone because of their physical appearance is not good. The point, I guess, is that while some odd things should remain odd, we shouldn’t presume to know the circumstances of those who do odd things. Compassion, not presumption, should be our first instinct.” And this is developed in Ephesians 4:29: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” So let’s help build these moms up, or offer to do the school run when we can.

Cerith Gardiner
Cerith Gardiner

Cerith Gardiner was born in London and has been living in Paris for 14 years. She spends her time working as an English consultant, acting as taxi driver to her four children, and wondering if she’ll ever be as stylish as the French.

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