I don’t say anything to you, and I don’t attempt to catch your eye. But I see you. You quietly grab your cart as I wrestle my toddler into the seat of another. I notice as you and you child smile at a toy. We steer around each other in a tight aisle.
I see you. I feel your pain as a tantrum starts. My body tenses, not in frustration, but out of reflex when I hear your little yell out angrily, as if mine has, too. I maybe try to shoot you a sympathetic smile.
As I think back on it, I probably should have said something like, “I know those days,” to make you feel less uncomfortable. I should have offered a helping hand.
Recently I read the rudest article, written by a fellow mom, listing all the places I should not bring my baby. Her reasoning is that it disturbs her peace and stresses her out.
We all have good and bad days. Sometimes it’s all smiles and smooth sailing. And sometimes littles just lose it. Maybe they’re too tired and have a meltdown. Or maybe they have so much energy they are running laps. Or, hey, maybe it’s a picture of a cartoon dinosaur throwing toys in a toilet that just sets them off. (Oddly specific example, you say? Welcome to my life.)
I’ve been there. Maybe it’s the library, the doctor’s office, or Target where it happens. It makes me freeze with anxiety when it does. Even if it doesn’t, I get nervous wondering if it will happen. I fear frustrating people with the racket. Instead, I’ve only gotten knowing, sympathetic looks, and offers to help.
Even though the article made me straight up angry at first, it also gives me perspective. I realize how much power we have in solidarity, and how much destruction is in our criticism. It makes me want to be the one to reach out to you, because we are in the same funny and crazy and wonderful stage in our lives. And also I could use the comfort when it inevitably happens to me. It makes me want to start a conversation, instead of leaving and going our separate ways. It makes me want to know your story, and to acknowledge you.
Mamas, we have to take care of each other. We have to help each other out. Because we all have been there. I don’t have room to question whether I agree with your parenting choices. (Unless something is clearly dangerous and out of hand.) Instead of throwing darts from behind our eyes, or looking away, we should be joking about how it must be a full moon, or how we went through the same thing last week.
Solidarity, mamas. While littles help make our lives worthwhile, relationships with other mamas make this crazy time survivable. We need each other.
Another Mom at the Store