Before we had kids, many of us had all these ideas in our heads of what motherhood would be like. We imagined our children and created their personalities in our minds. Truth is, there’s no build a child workshop. As much as our actions and teachings mold our kids, they come with their own personalities.
Being a mom is hard. Sometimes I can’t help but feel bad when my kids are acting up and I pass another mom whose kids are calm and behaving. I want to whisper, “What’s your secret?” Honestly, there is no secret. Kids have good days and bad days. They have times where life seems to be a ray of sunshine and moments where they are completely overwhelmed. Throw in a missed nap and who knows how rough a quick trip to the grocery store might turn out.
A while back, I had to pick up a few things from the store. My twin sister decided to stay with my kids while I shopped, lucky me. I shopped, as usual, enjoying a peaceful trip. No one to tell me they want some nasty cereal because their favorite character was on the box. No complaints about being touched by a sibling while they’re all in the cart because they get a little too friendly with strangers.
After getting everything I needed, I headed for the self-checkout. In the distance, I could hear blood-curdling screams. I thought for a moment about the poor mom that had to be so stressed. I knew the feeling of trying to hurry up because my kids are crying at the top of their lungs.
Even after I was done I could still hear crying. I saw some older ladies roll their eyes in disgust as I could only assume in the direction of the mother and child. As I headed to the exit, I glanced over to this family only to recognize them. It was a child from the daycare I worked at, a former student of mine. I thought about going on and minding my business but something in my heart wouldn’t let me.
I went over to them. The mother was renting exercise equipment, an older brother around seven stood next to her, and the crying toddler sat in the front of the cart. I called the child’s name then greeted the mother. This two-year-old was not having it. He couldn’t have cared less about my existence at that moment. I thought to pick him up and maybe he’d calm down from being held but he used all his weight against me and even began to cry more. I felt defeated. I had no intention to make things worse.
I wanted to leave right then but as I peered around at all the bad looks this mother was getting, I thought maybe I can’t make this little boy feel better but I can be some support for her. I started a conversation with this incredibly calm woman. She told me that he seemed to be getting sick. I suggested that maybe he was cranky because it was the time he’d be sleeping at daycare. She nodded and said that he recently got up from a nap but wasn’t sleeping well at home. It was amazing how I couldn’t hear his screaming anymore as I rubbed his back and talked with his mother. He hadn’t stopped crying, though it seemed that way.
His mother added that his dad was away for football training and wouldn’t be back for a few months. Her mother concluded it had to be separation anxiety, that’s why being in a cart and not in his mother’s arms was so hard for him. It made me realize that there were probably so many similar stories or rational reasons for the seemingly obnoxious tantrums that kids throw.
We said our goodbyes once she had the items she was renting. She left with a smile on her face. I saw her. Not as a mom with a screaming toddler but as my sister. I saw her as myself, a woman who was going through a tough time, and my kid was the external reaction to my internal feelings.
Sometimes we need to take a moment to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes. No judgments or harsh criticisms. Be there for the mommies in our circle or complete strangers who might be way too overwhelmed to force a smile on their face. Whenever we can, we need to let other moms know that we see them and that we get it. Being a mom is tough but we can all do this tough job with support from each other.