May this story be a reminder of something we should always remember when we see another mother struggling: this motherhood is our sisterhood. Really, this goes for dads as well – parents in general. We are all fighting the same good fight. We are all doing our best to stay afloat be it our best day or our crappiest. Below is a story of my morning (9:30am-10:30am to be exact) and how a loving stranger rocked my day in the best way possible.
All the Best,
I’ll spare you the details of this preface and just tell you that earlier this week, the summer camp plan for my boys was crumpled up and flushed down the toilet, which led me back to square one. (Oh how I wish Square 1 was the name of an awesome camp the boys could attend…but I use that term as in starting over.) I sent out and S.O.S. to some friends for ideas on summer plans 2.0 and – hot damn! – one of the results is somewhere they can go TODAY! They have drop-in, there are spots available and it is an all day gig. I repeat, they can go TODAY! After I hang up the phone with the camp site, I get everyone dressed, fed and out the door in 20 minutes. The excitement is buzzing in the air. The boys are giddy in the car and excited for their fun day of camp and I am dreaming of going longer than 3 minutes without hearing “mom,” “that’s not fair,” or “I’m bored.”
We arrive, sign in and then…meltdown. Just from my youngest. He is not having it, not one bit of it. My oldest goes on and joins his group and is ready to jam on it. Little guy and I hang in the lobby area as he wails and protests at the top of his lungs. (One of my favorite quotes from this meltdown: “I will not stay here, this place is hateful.” I’m sorry…what?) Let me be sure to mention that this place is pretty much lined wall-to-wall with people there either for summer camp or for gymnastic lessons, adults and children alike and I am in the front lobby holding a hysterical child. Do you ever feel more watched than when your child is crying in public?
Yes, I can assure you I am being watched. Many pity looks come from onlooking adults, some of them pout out their bottom lip and make sad eyes at Easton, I guess this is their way of sympathizing. But it is while I am sitting on the bench, finally calming my child, that a woman who has been following her toddler around stops and says, “You’re doing great. You really are. This is hard stuff and you are doing great. Hang in there mama.” Then she caught up with her little one and vanished into the crowd. THIS IS HOW WE SHOULD BE: ENCOURAGING. When we see another mother with the look of “I am about to crack” on her face, we should become her cheerleader. She doesn’t need pity looks or pouty-lipped sympathy she needs your encouragement!
Out of habit, my stalking instincts take over and I decide I must find her in this crowd and thank her for being a total Godsend, but quickly realize that just thinking about this scenario puts me on the verge of an ugly cry, so instead I take my child to the car and head for home. A swell of pent-up frustration with the situation mixed with the love from this mother/sister start to swirl inside me. Once I am safely down the road a bit, I let the tears run down. In that moment I make a silent promise to that woman that I will not show up at the gymnastics school at 9:30 next Thursday to thank her because that would be creepy and overall really bad social skills, but mostly just creepy. No, instead I silently promise her that I will pay it forward. I will not hesitate to encourage another parent when I see them struggling.
Sometimes I think people don’t know what to say, so they just stay silent. I get it. I have done the same myself many times.
The work of parenthood can be tireless and exhausting and discouraging, we need to make the conscious effort to lift one another up and share the weight of this load, even if that person is a stranger.
Say something kind. Be their encouragement. It doesn’t have to be profound, sometimes all it takes are words as simple as, “You’re doing great.”
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