By Heather Keenan
As I left the grocery store, completely rain covered, with my soaked nine month old and my even more soaked, fit throwing, two year old I couldn’t help but think, “What must the people who saw that two minutes of my life think of me as a mother?” Did I mention we didn’t even make it completely in the door of the grocery store? That’s right, I ventured out on a rainy day to get a few things for dinner with two kids and the eldest lost it before even entering the store. So we clumsily stormed straight back to the car and piled back in, just as clumsily. And all I could think was, “What do these perfect strangers think of me as a mother?” My next thought was, “What has made me worry about what others think of my parenting so much?”
The main thing I try to remember to tell myself is that you never look as crazy as you feel. On the inside, while my child is throwing a horrid, cringe worthy fit, I am a complete unglued mess. On the outside, to everyone else, I’m hoping I just look like a mom having a rough moment. I have convinced myself of this to make myself feel better, so whether it is true or not, at this point in my voyage of motherhood, I do not care.
Back to why I worry about what others think. I assume that this is something most moms deal with at one point or another. I feel like it is almost as if I have this ridiculous expectation of myself that I need to have it totally together at all times and when temper tantrums arise I should quietly deal with it and have no one even notice its happening. All that would be missing is the pretty bow on top. However, this is just not possible. Not for me, anyway. And I am pretty tired of beating myself up about it.
I remember the days of having one child, pre toddler, and seeing other moms struggle with their kids and quietly thinking to myself, “Man, why is her child acting that way? She needs to get it together.” What a horrible thing to think, right? Then my perfect, pre toddler turned into (GASP!), a toddler. She, just like toddlers do, got a mind of her own and her own agenda and I was now that mom, with the tantrum throwing kid, getting sideways looks in the grocery store.
I would love to say that only people without kids have judgmental thoughts of mothers when they see them struggle in public with their kids, but that is just not true. I know, because as I stated I was a “judger” at one time. It took living it to open my eyes to the fact that everyone has to deal with the battles of motherhood in the way that works best for them.
Maybe if we all made more of a conscious effort not to judge other mothers, but instead uplift them, then the thought, “What are they thinking of me?” wouldn’t cross any mothers’ mind. I bet that if instead of just watching a fellow mother struggle with her kid(s) we offered a helping hand, nice word, or even just a smile, she would beat herself up just a little less about the fact that her lovely child decided she would rather roll around on the dirty floor, kicking and screaming, than stick her little legs into the leg holes of a grocery cart that day.
Motherhood is tough enough. We don’t need to dwell on the one out of ten trips to the store that ended, or in my case started, badly. Nor do we need to obsess and make ourselves feel crazy over how we handled that bad store trip. Mothers are like snowflakes, no two the same, but as long as we all do the best we can, then we are all doing it right. Be nice to each other out there, moms! We are all united in a very unique way. Wouldn’t this adventure be that much more fun if we stopped judging and lent a helping hand, or smile? And please remember, your easy, breezy day today could be your hair pulling, teeth grinding day tomorrow.