I'd like to challenge you tonight...
If you know a mother of a young child, (especially if the child is a baby/toddler) or even if you happen to see one out in public shopping at Target, or picking up a coffee at Starbucks, etc...
Do something extra special and out of the ordinary to show them that they matter...aside from being a mom...and that they are doing a good job raising and taking care of another tiny (stubborn) human.
Maybe you can offer to help them put the 40 pound box of kitty litter in their shopping cart at Target, especially if you see they're holding a sleeping baby...
Maybe you could secretly "pay it forward" and pay for their Starbucks coffee...
Maybe you could even just offer a genuine smile and a simple "Hello" to acknowledge their presence.
I'm not going to sit here and complain about motherhood...it's something I waited a long time for...but I will say that it can be especially isolating being a full-time mom of a toddler, and living far from family and close-friends. It's also especially disheartening when the general public can be so incredibly judgmental and downright rude. In the past 7 days I have had 3 separate incidents that have made me wonder how humanity can be so self involved and so intolerant of a mother and her child.
Being a mom is, hands down, the HARDEST thing I have EVER done, or will ever do. And I am NOT talking about labor (although that might be the hardest thing I'll ever physically do...unless I ever decide to run a full marathon...but I think I'd rather give birth again than run for 26.2 miles though). But motherhood as I'm finding out, is seriously HARD. And trust me, I am extremly hard on myself when it comes to parenting...am I doing this right, did I research this enough, did I remember to do that, oh no I let her watch 3 hours of Sesame Street today just so I could stay sane and I wasn't even going to let her watch TV until she was 2...I've ruined her already...and the list goes on. I'm pretty sure they call that "mommy guilt".
So yes, being a mom is tough work. And when you add on random strangers judging your every move, well, it just adds to the guilt. I should say here that I am not usually one to really give a rat's backside what anyone thinks, I am a confident person and confident in my parenting choices and decisions. BUT, I am human and have my weak moments like anyone else.
Incident #1 - Madalyn and I were out all day shopping at Costco and Trader Joe's. We were on our way home after our 4 hour marathon shopping trip when I remembered we were almost our of diapers and kitty litter...2 very different but very similar and very important things! Of course Madalyn fell asleep in the car...so while I swung into Target's parking lot I decided I would just carry her and hope for a quick trip and that she would stay asleep while I carried her (and of course the Ergo was NOT in the car that day...why would it have been?). I was able to surprisingly go from one side of Target to the other side fairly quickly, and Madalyn was miraculously still asleep. although my arms were literally shaking at this point from carrying her and pushing a cart around. (25 pounds is heavy! And no, I haven't been working out like I should lately). So there I am, in the kitty litter section, holding a heavy sleeping baby, trying to figure out how I'm going to lift a 40 pound box of kitty litter in to the cart while holding Madalyn. I maneuvered the cart to an angle that would allow me to literally almost drop the box in to the cart, it was perfectly set up. And I couldn't have had my back turned for more than 3 seconds to grab the box...and there I am, holding my sleeping child in one arm, and a 40 pound box of kitty litter in the other...so if you're doing the math...65 pounds total...and some rude lady that I can only assume was NOT blind...MOVED MY PERFECTLY PLACED CART and told ME that I was being rude for blocking the aisle!!! Mind you, my cart was only positioned like that for possibly 60 seconds at the most, and when I arranged it, there was NO ONE even remotely close to the kitty litter section except me. Ya...I pretty much wanted to sucker punch that woman. Thanks lady.
Incident #2 - Let me preface this by stating that I am fully aware that the sun, does not in fact, shine from the backside of my daughter. She is just shy of 19 months old, and had DEFINITELY entered the "terrible twos" a little early. She is testing me, and is at the stage of defining and discovering her boundaries. Am I tough on her and not let her get away with things? Absolutely. It's called P-A-R-E-N-T-I-N-G. So, there we are in the dairy section at Raley's (a grocery store, for those not in CA). I always bring a couple of toys for Madalyn to play with to (hopefully) keep her entertained. Madalyn has discovered a new "game"...throw her dolly on the ground and see how many times Mom will pick it up. Ya, I caught on to THAT pretty quick...and after the 5th time of "dropping" her dolly ("uh oh" as Madalyn says...and it's kinda cute when she does it but I don't think she quite understands that uh-oh is an oops.....) Mean Mommy took dolly and put her in my purse and said, "No more dolly Madalyn, mommy asked you to not throw dolly on the ground anymore and you disobeyed, so now dolly has to stay with me". Well, let's just say that when Madalyn realized her little game was over and the jig was up, she was NOT happy about it. She screamed. Loud. And unfortunately an older woman happened to be walking past us at that exact moment. Of course I told Madalyn that she was not allowed to yell in the grocery store, but c'mon...she's 1.5 years old and in many ways still a baby and learning. Apparently the older woman didn't take that in to consideration when she loudly asked me "Why can't you control your child". Nice. Way to encourage me. And I don't know why I can't control her...SHE'S one and a half lady...THAT's why...I'm doing my best, but clearly I should just keep her at home 24/7 and never take her out in to public to teach her how to behave appropriately in public.
Incident #3 - Our wedding anniversary is on the 6th. We had planned on going to the Bay Area today to celebrate, but last minute decided to keep it local instead. We stopped at a couple of our favorite antique shops without incident. Then we decided to venture out to another one of our favorite shops. Madalyn, of course, fell asleep in the car. And once again, I forgot the Ergo. Luckily we brought the stroller and were able to successfully transfer Madalyn from the car seat to the stroller without waking her up. Perfect, we thought...she'll sleep while we get to browse! We walked inside and were immediately greeted by the owner who questioned if we had noticed the "No Strollers" sign on the door. Obviously we had not... She then proceeded to tell us strollers were NOT allowed. OK, so, um, why not? I of course assumed it was because of shoplifting prevention...I know there are some disgusting people in this world that use their children to help them steal. So when I asked why not, I expected to get that as an answer, in which I would have responded with, I have no problems letting you check my stroller when I leave, but my baby is asleep (yay!) and I didn't have anything in the stroller anyway. Apparently that is not why they have the "no strollers" law. Reason given, a bunch of yadda yadda, and a mother walked away from her son in the stroller and he pulled on a table cloth or something and broke a vase, and the mother was rude to them because her son could have been hurt... OK, I am a reasonable person. I completely see their side and point of view on this. However, MY DAUGHTER WAS SLEEPING. (And aside from that I NEVER even take my hand off the stroller because I keep my purse strapped on it AND hello, I don't walk away from my child in public...but of course I don't expect this woman to know that...). So when I explained that she was asleep, and clearly the woman could see that she was asleep and realized she was being ridiculous and being rude to us for no reason at all, she then offered to "allow" us to leave Madalyn in the stroller, parked in the front of the store where SHE would watch her...or we could risk waking her up and carry her. Um, NO, I will not be leaving my daughter parked at the front of the store while we (Mike and I) walk around looking at your stuffy, over priced antiques. And too bad too, because we were planning on dropping some money since we were celebrating our anniversary...and there's a Pyrex dealer that I was dying to look over their stuff to pick out an anniversary present. Ugghhh...so...when I turned the stroller around to leave, the woman started getting kind of aggressive demanding that we "just leave her here, she'll be fine"...and I (hopefully politely, but maybe not since I was fuming) said, "No thanks, I wouldn't have a good time looking at your old junk without my daughter with me"...and then we walked out...never to set foot in that stuffy place again. And I fully support that any business and shop is allowed to make their rules and have their patrons abide by them...but hopefully they can understand that I won't be able to give them any money or support, nor recommend them to my friends.
All that to say, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE make a Mama's day tomorrow...trust me, even a smile can completely change the outlook of the day when you feel like everyone is staring at you, and judging your every move and parenting choice.
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