That screaming boy in Target.
That mismatched messy girl in the restaurant.
That eye roll.
I have silently judged, questioned and mentally accused the mothers of these children.
Because I was an excellent mother-
Before I had kids.
And then I became a mom and I discovered just how wrong I’d been.
Because if the world judged how great a mom I was by my well-behaved kids who are styled to perfection without ever displaying attitude or laziness–I would be in deep trouble.
Parenting is hard.
The kind of hard that knocks you off your feet, leaves you gasping for air, and has you wondering what the heck just happened all before 8 a.m.
I used to think if I could just get them to sleep through the night or eat their veggies or stop crying, or pick up their toys, or stop fighting with their siblings, or make a new friend, or get a better grade or stop slamming their doors, or fill in the blank–then parenting would be easier.
But then I realized parenting doesn’t get easier.
It just changes.
I understand now that the little boy is probably screaming in Target because his mom told him no. She is being consistent even though it’s hard. She’s second-guessing herself and she really just wants to cry along with him.
I get the mismatched messy girl at the restaurant because that mom chose her battle. She let the little things go and is just simply doing her best.
I can now appreciate letting teenagers get away with the eye roll. Because you can’t win them all.
Once I heard a exuberant, quirky guest speaker say, “You might think I’m wrong because I do things different than you do. You might wonder why I get excited more than most or pump my fist or jump up and down. You might judge me. Go ahead. Because you don’t know the road I’ve walked. You can’t understand that this fist bump means I haven’t quit. This jump means I will not give up. I may not do things the way you do them, but I do it my way for a reason. And that doesn’t make me wrong.”
The thing is we may never understand why other parents do what they do. And then again, we may totally get it when we reach that next trying and beautiful phase.
But the truth is we all know how hard parenting is. We all try to do our best, hoping we offer our kids mercy or justice when it’s needed most. We all love our children. The last thing we need is to second guess the way someone else is parenting.
An encouraging word, a kind look, a sympathetic smile can change someone’s day. Including your own.
And if your a parent, you’re going to need it.