Thursday, October 2, 2014

It Gets Better

I used to be that mom. The one in denial. The mom that looked at other moms with contempt and whispered, "Do you see her? Seriously, what is she thinking?" I couldn't see that she was me. I didn't want to believe that her struggles were the same as mine. The truth is, we've all been "there" at one point or another as parents. I say "parents" because moms aren't the only ones who have a hard time. Dads don't often get the credit they deserve for putting up with the amount of crap they do.

My kids are older now. Old enough to know better. Old enough to not throw tantrums anymore. Old enough to pour their own cereal and tie their own shoes. My kids are not perfect, oh no. Not by any means. But they are no longer the toddlers they once were.

I saw myself the other day in the checkout line. T-shirt and dirty jeans. Hair in a messy half-up, half-fallen down pony. Exhausted but still smiling. She had one child riding in the cart and the other "helping" her push the cart. The older one was whining, "Pleeeeease, Mommy! Can I have...?" The toddler in the basket was crying, blankie in hand, sippy cup on the floor. And I thought, Hang in there, Momma. It gets better.
Then I heard it: the not-so-quiet whisper.

-"Someone can't control her kids."
-"Mmhmm. Wonder where their daddy is?"
-"I dunno, but those kids need a firm hand, that's for sure."



I can't tell you how many times I've heard the same lines over and over. Older generations, younger generations. Everyone does it. Everyone knows the "best" way to care for a child, discipline a child, soothe a child. What we fail to recognize is how different each child can be. What works for yours might not work for mine and vice versa. If you have children, you know how exhausting life can be when you're at wit's end and down to your last package of diapers. Does anyone want to go shopping with a young child in tow? Lord, no. But it becomes a necessary evil in those moments. So, we drag ourselves away from the piles of laundry and hunt down our car keys, then rush to the store, thinking, We'll only be a few minutes. I just need to pick up some x, y, z. And we almost always end up at home afterwards, collapsing onto the couch after carefully setting down the sleeping baby in the car seat, and remember, Crap. We're nearly out of baby wipes. 

So I walked over to the mom in the checkout line, handed her the dropped sippy cup, smiled and said, "What beautiful kids! You're doing a great job. Keep it up." She mouthed a thank-you, and smiled back as if my non-judgment meant the world to her. 

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