I saw your smile leave as soon as she spoke to you. The peace you had while your child played was gone. Then I saw the tears come and the sobs begin.
Her words destroyed you.
She had no idea what she had done. Or maybe she did.
She made you question your ability to be a mother. She made you question if you could do this. She belittled you in a way that she had no right to do.
What that mother didn’t know is that you needed today to feel normal. You needed the support of the mom you were with to talk about your struggles and worries. And that had happened until the moment you were leaving … and your two year old child pushed hers one more time.
She may have felt she had a right to defend her child and “punish” you for being such a bad mother that your child dared step out of line and didn’t act perfect according to her standards. Instead of teaching her child how to defend herself or react correctly to someone hurting her, she chose to push you emotionally.
And she punished you alright.
She got back at you, for sure.
And now as her child runs off, already forgetting what was done, you are left feeling horrible about yourself, looking at your child and wondering if you will ever be able to take him anywhere again. You are left to shakily grab his shoes and attempt to help him put them on while you try to see through the sobs. You are left to hold him close to your heart as you carry him back to your car. You are left to weep uncontrollably as you drive home – determined never to let yourself go out again for fear of the same thing happening.
You didn’t deserve this.
It doesn’t matter where you are with your parenting skills; she had no right to call you a bad mother. She, who didn’t know anything about you, had no right to question your ability to control your child. Why?
Because she has no idea what you are going through as a parent. She doesn’t know your struggles. She doesn’t know that you were already questioning yourself and not feeling like enough. She doesn’t know how hard you try to do things right. She doesn’t know that you hardly ever get to get out and perhaps you weren’t watching your child as closely as you might normally do because you finally had the chance to enjoy yourself.
Oh, my dear friend, I wish so badly that if she felt the need to approach you, that she would have been gentle and kind. I wish so badly she had spoken with her child once about how to respond if she didn’t want him to hug her or push her. I wish so badly she had just gently pulled her child away when she saw what was happening. I wish so badly she would have taken a moment to put herself in your shoes and think about how harsh and hurtful her words were. I wish so badly that you could see yourself the way I do.
You are a good mom.
You are doing everything you possibly can to survive the craziness of motherhood. You are doing the best you know to do. You are a brave mom who has more than a full plate of responsibility. Even with the lack of sleep, the struggles of how to parent different children, especially one who is more of a challenge than the rest, and trying to maintain a busy household, you have children who are delightfully happy and feel loved. They are fed. They have every need met. Everything else is bonus.
In reality, all of us are doing the best we can. There are going to be days where we fail in the eyes of others. But what happened if, on those days, we stood together and supported each other instead of ripping each other to shreds? What if we spent more time trying to understand each other before judging? Mothers can’t be alone in this. We need the support of others when we feel like we are falling apart. We need love when we seem unlovable. We need the cheers of others when we have a good day. We need understanding and forgiveness when we fail, especially when it involves our children. We need to understand that children will be children, and we need to teach our children how to navigate the positives and negatives of that. We need to learn how to gently speak to each other about our children’s behavior when the need arises. We need to know when to let things go. We need each other if we are going to make it.
So, friend, I want you to know that you have me. We are in this together. I will be by your side to pick you up when others bring you down. I will whisper truth so that their harsh words will be forgotten. I will be your shoulder when you need to cry. I will be your ears when you need to talk. I will be there for you.
When the tears are gone, read these words of truth, and let her hurtful words disappear. Then stand tall, friend. You’ve got this … and you’ve got me. We have each other and we are going to make it.