So it happened again. It doesn’t happen all the time, but it does happen regularly. The difference is, this time, it really got to me.
Like I am currently eating mac and cheese out of the pot got to me.
Some stranger made me feel like the worst mother in the world.
It started out innocently enough. I had walked my older daughter to school and then my two younger daughters and I decided to take the puppy to the park to play. Thirty minutes later the swings, slides and sand had expelled all their morning energy and I had two tired and cranky girls on my hands. After my four-year-old complained about everything from hunger to the fact that she doesn’t have a treehouse, I decided I had enough and allowed her to get into the stroller; kicking my youngest out. I should add, neither of my children require a stroller. My older daughter is four and my younger will be three next week. The only reason I bring the stroller is for my own sanity and to have a place to stash backpacks on our daily treks.
After getting kicked out of her ride, the soon to be threenager, decided to walk a few steps and then plunk herself on the sidewalk, arms crossed and face in a deadly scowl. This is a current favourite power struggle with her and I usually walk about 100 feet, turn around and say, ‘bye Emma.’ Then she proceeds to rush to catch up. It’s annoying and happens often. So when she did it this time, I started walking slowly away without turning back. When I was about 200 feet away from her I realized she wasn’t following and started calling to her. Instead of her rushing to catch up I saw a lady come out of her house towards her.
Of course my first instinct was, ‘get the hell away from my kid psycho’ (I watch a lot of Dateline), so I started quickly making my way to her. As she began to run towards me she abruptly tripped, went flying and hit her head on the sidewalk. The stranger then proceeded to pick her up as she was sobbing and carried her to me.
She was not impressed.
I thanked the woman and told Emma that she was not to do that again as I checked her over. I had locked my stroller to pick her up and at that moment, the puppy launched for Emma and knocked both the stroller and my four-year-old to the ground.
I struggled to lift both the stroller and my 40 something pound preschooler off the ground as the lady huffed and walked away.
And this has haunted me since.
I’m not some horrible mother who doesn’t care about the safety of her children but that is exactly how I felt lifting up the stroller. As much as I appreciated the help bringing my daughter to me, where was the help lifting the stroller? We need to support and lift each other up as women and especially as mothers. Motherhood is f@cking tough, don’t make me feel like crap for my bad moments.
I am as guilty as the next person. I remember when I was at a community carnival last year with two of my daughters and a search broke out for a toddler. Later on, the family was reunited and the father started lecturing the small child (about two) for running off.
And I judged the crap out of them. They shouldn’t have lost their kid. Weren’t they paying attention? Why yell at the poor kid when it’s your fault?
Well, let’s consider their position.
You lose your kid and you immediately fear the worst and start to panic. You feel like the worst parent in the world and are sure that everyone is judging you, even those helping with the search.
So as you are reunited, you are both filled with relief and anger at the fact that you were just put it that position.
So what is the answer to the age old question? Why do we need to put other parents down in an attempt to raise ourselves up? The answer is simple.
We need an army.
A parenting army working together to keep our kids safe. Back in the day you had neighbours, teachers, clergymen and community leaders. Now we fear everyone and keep going it alone. Instead of working against each other, let’s work together.
Kid screaming in Walmart? Instead of staring say, ‘I’ve been there.’
Lost kid? Help look and keep your mouth shut.
My stroller collapses and my kid hits their head? Don’t make my day worse, instead help me out. You don’t know what kind of mother I am from my worst five minutes. None of us do. We are all just trying to do our best at the hardest job in the world.
*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Parent Life Network or their partners.