Recently my kids and I were at the library getting a new set of books for the week. My son had found a Geronimo Stilton book and had sat down to read it, while my daughter and I searched for a story that interested her on the shelves close by. There was another young boy in the reading area, who I would guess was around three years old.
Without warning, the little boy went up to my son and started hitting him. Considering my son was twice his size and was used to having a younger sibling in his personal space, he wasn’t alarmed and didn’t pay much attention. When the boy didn’t get a response, he came over to us and started hitting my daughter, who wasn’t as thrilled with the behavior and hid behind me very quickly. At that point, I tried to distract the boy by showing him one of the books we had found, and he quickly was diverted to reading the book while my daughter calmed down.
In that second, I thought back to if that same scenario had played out when my son was a toddler, five years earlier. I would have probably reacted in a much different way, jumping to my son’s defense and looking for the child’s caretaker, wondering why they weren’t taking action. I might have even gone so far as to judge them for their parenting skills (or rather a lack thereof)…and I know I am not alone in this. How many times, as a parent, do you find yourself feeling like those around you are passing judgment, or as it is termed these days, “mom-shaming” you?
I can say with a few more years of motherhood (and even more so, life experience) under my belt, I have come to realize there is absolutely no reason to judge what another parent is or isn’t doing—each and every one has a story, whether it is from the previous few hours or the months before.
To the mom in the shopping mall with her toddler dressed only in a swimsuit, I have been there and know that dressing a tiny terror is next to impossible. Sometimes life has to go on, with or without clothes.
To the mom who raised her voice and screamed at her son in the supermarket because he broke your last piece of sanity in half, I feel for you as a single mom, doing everything in your power be strong and keep things together each day.
To the mom feeding her kids fast food for the third night in a row, you are my hero as you juggle being a full-time working mom, keeping your house in order, and getting the kids to their regular sports practices and activities.
To the mom at a play gym who couldn’t physically produce milk and is feeding her baby with a bottle while those around her breastfeed, good for you for giving your child the nourishment they need and for knowing fed is best.
To the mom sitting at the coffee shop collecting her thoughts while her kids are playing on their iPads, I am sorry you lost your father earlier this year, and these days you are just trying to put one foot in front of the other.
And coming back to the child in the library that was hitting other kids to get their attention, I know your mom is 39 weeks pregnant and just around the corner looking for a couple books to keep you busy when the baby arrives.
So let this be a lesson, not just for moms, but for all humans:
Everyone has a story, and most of us will never know 99% of the problems someone else is dealing with. Therefore, we should make an effort to be open and willing to understand this.