Were you ever in the supermarket and heard a toddler whining and crying while the mother looked like she was going to lose her mind? Of course you have.
Did you initially feel compassion for the cute child and wonder why the mother was being so nasty or did you quickly realize this was you yesterday and your compassion switched from the child to the mom?
You know this mom is exhausted and completely fed up. It’s practically written on her face. It was written on yours yesterday. She is trying to get her errands completed and is dealing with a child who is misbehaving and not listening. Sound familiar? Of course she thinks her daughter is cute, but the last thing she feels like doing is doting over her. You pretty much wanted to sell your child the other day so you understand her point of view.
Even so, when you are not personally in that particular moment, it can be difficult not to want to step in, hug the child and the mom, and tell them it is all going to be okay. Meanwhile, if someone approached you in that situation, I bet you would grab whatever is on the shelf and throw it at them.
When you witness other moms with their children, you are on the outside looking in, yet it is as if you are looking at yourself. We have all been that mom in the supermarket who loses her sh*t. People stare as you scream at your eight-year-old in the bread aisle, but they don’t know that five minutes before he bit his brother, who is now convinced he has rabies. They don’t realize that earlier that morning, he missed the bus because he refused to wear the school uniform he has worn every day for the last three years and instead, threw himself on the floor. How could they know your four-year-old decided he was sick on the day you finally had the time to fit in a massage, only to realize his idea of sick was going to the zoo and playing tag.
You know though. You know what this mother has been through. “Cute” went out the door a long time ago.
The other night I was at lacrosse practice and overheard a mother talking to her child with a less than kind tone. The girl refused to do her homework and the mom was over it. “I don’t have all day”, she said. “Hurry up and just do it already”, she moaned. She threw in one more jab and raised her voice even louder. “You are really driving me crazy, you know that?”
“Jeez”…I thought. Is anyone else hearing this? I then remembered earlier in the week how my ten year old was getting frustrated with his homework and started screaming at me for no reason. I had had enough and told him to “figure it out himself and to change his dreadful attitude”. I wasn’t having it either.
A little while later, the same mom at practice continued her rant, but had moved on to a different subject…chewing. “You sound like a cow”, she huffed and puffed. “Can you chew any louder? CLOSE YOUR MOUTH HOLE”, she hollered.
As mean as she was being, I smiled just a little bit, because I had this same conversation with my own son just the other night. It is beyond frustrating how many times I have to remind him to chew with his mouth closed.
I mean, how hard of a concept is it?
At this point, I expected a child who was either going to be extremely embarrassed, very angry or sulking. She was none of these things. Instead, her body language was sending the message that her mom was being really annoying and to be honest, she was being really annoying. I was actually a little bit embarrassed for the mother, yet totally understood where she was coming from.
This mom sounded like she needed a time out. She was being awful to her daughter and had clearly lost her patience. I soon began to wonder, “Is that what I sound like? OY”. This mother’s impatience was not helping anyone or remeding the situation, at all.
Yes, this girl probably had zero interest in her homework and didn’t even think about her method of chewing as she was enjoying her snack. The mom has probably dealt with these issues every day for as long as she can remember and was over it. I get it. I really do. Been there, done that! Haven’t we all.
When you are that mom on the outside looking in and have the time to assess someone else’s situation, it gives you the time to figure out how you would have handled it. Would you have approached it in the same manner? Does watching someone else in a similar pair of your shoes change your parenting perspective?
That opportunity to experience things through the eyes of another mom, is definitely a learning lesson. Sometimes we need to step aside and really listen to what we are saying to our children and pay attention to our delivery.
Next time you are beyond frustrated and your kids are getting on your nerves, mentally step away for just a few short seconds and be that outside person listening in on your own conversation. What is your next move? Is it the right move? You never know if there is another parent watching listening, learning and watching you.
TOGETHER WE CAN MASTER MOTHERHOOD™