I see you there in Target minding your own business when suddenly your child begins screaming at the top of their lungs: "BUT I WANTED THE ALPHABET CEREAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" You're trying to calm little Johnny down, trying to explain to him that you really don't want to purchase a sugary box of cereal for $4.50 only for him to consume within three days. I mean it's just not in the budget kid. You find yourself flustered, trying to keep your cool and dying inside. There's no reasoning with a threenager.
Yeah, I see you. I'm watching. Do you want to know a secret? I'm not judging you, dear. I'm relieved, to be honest. Why am I relieved? I'm relieved because I am thinking to myself,
"Oh good, I'm not the only one."
I'm at a play date with you and your lovely children. Things have been going swimmingly and we've had an awesome time with you...that is until you decided to head home. No matter how many minute warnings you gave to your daughter a meltdown of epic proportions is about to ensue. You brace yourself and as you're trying to quietly get Sally Jane to come home with you the kid is not budging at all. Suddenly you find yourself stuck in the doorframe physically dragging Sally Jane out kicking and screaming. You're beyond embarrassed. How the heck did Sally Jane go from being the perfect child to needing to be wrestled to the ground like a feral-like cat? You're begging and pleading with Sally Jane to knock it off all the while hoping and praying that none of the other moms at the play date are judging you.
Want to know a secret? I'm chuckling to myself and you know why? Because I am thinking to myself,
"Oh good, I'm not the only one."
All too often we assume the worst in each other and ourselves. We expect perfect behavior from our children, who are far from perfect, and in turn, we beat ourselves because our children aren't performing the way we want them to. You know what, though? We have no more control over our children's behavior than we do predicting whether or not the Vikings are going to ever be in the Super Bowl.
I want to propose something and maybe it'll sound a little outlandish and it'll definitely take you out of your comfort zone but what if we, as a tribe of mothers, took it upon ourselves to reach out to one another when it seems we need it the most?
I'm talking about the Target shopping trips turned into frantic exits because of the alphabet cereal (yeah, that incident was me two years ago with my now five-year-old). And I'm talking about the mom who's new to your tribe of mommy friends and is just trying to fit in. I mean she's finally mustered up the courage to accept your invitation to a play date where she knows no one.
What if we smiled at one another and mouthed the words, "Me too" to her as she struggles to flee the scene rather than turning our backs on her? Can you imagine the freedom and sense of encouragement you would feel if someone met you with compassionate eyes during your moment of need?
What if we as a generation of mothers decided that enough was enough? What if we decided to take a stand and get back to that sense of community we imagine mothers in the 1950s must have felt? I've heard that back in the olden days (okay not that "olden" but you know what I'm talking about) there was a sense of community among parents.
The way I see it, we all want to embrace a more accepting and nonjudgemental approach to parenting but it's never going to actually happen until we decide to be the change.
I promise you if I see you in public, struggling with your child, I will be that person who gives you a smile and says, "Oh good, I'm not the only one."
If I stop by and your house isn't cleaned, don't apologize to me at all. Why? Because oh good, I'm not the only one.