Ever see another mom and think wow they are really doing a great job! Or see one at her wits end wanting to cry? Say something! I am normally one to hold my tongue and sit in the background just observing but last week at my daughter’s dance class I realized just how important it is to speak up. While sitting waiting for class to begin I see a woman walk in with her almost 2 year old son and an infant. The woman had stated it was her first real outing alone with both children so she was nervous. She wanted her son to try out the class so he could get used to being separated from mommy and start interacting with other kids. From the moment she put him into the class he began crying. I quickly flashed back to Audrey’s initial class and not only remembered the tears and cries of my baby girl but I also intensely remembered the guilt I felt. Yes, as mothers, we choose to put our kids in activities but we do so hoping to improve their social skills and to help them become independent. This doesn’t make it easier on your heart strings when your child is screaming “mommy!” at the top of her lungs for the entire 45 minute class. Oh and did I mention she did that for the first 3 classes? I felt like the worst mother. I went in with the approach of letting her cry it out in hopes she would eventually see other kids having fun and want to join in, which she eventually did…on the 4th class! Before then, I remember seeing the other mothers’ glances towards me and just putting my head down in shame…pretending to be checking things on my phone. When I saw this mother struggling I looked over to her and saw the same shame in her eyes. She went in the room a couple times to calm him but every time she left he would scream. To make matters worse her baby began uncontrollably crying about halfway through. I could see the stress in her face and humiliation overcoming her.
Looking back I don’t believe those other mothers who were glancing towards me back then were judging me but instead felt a connection because they too had been through the same thing and were remembering where they started. During those first couple of classes, I wish one of the mothers had reached out and told me it would be okay or that I wasn’t a bad mother.
At the end of the class the mother looked defeated and I could see tears starting to form so I looked at her and said “Don’t worry…it took my daughter three whole classes of constant crying to get used to it and she loves it now. It just takes time. You’re doing a great job! I have another little one myself and I know how hard it can be juggling them both. You’re doing fantastic!” The biggest smile came over her face as she said “Thank you.” It was something so simple; kind words for a fellow mother. Encouraging other mothers not only makes you feel good but also the other mother who may have desperately needed to hear your kind words. Motherhood is hard! You’re never sure if you’re doing the right thing and then you have people who judge you. How about for once we fight for the same team? You’re trying to raise confident, kind human beings and isn’t that the ultimate goal for all mothers? So encourage your fellow mother when you can. Tell her how well she’s doing, even if it looks like she’s struggling, because we’ve all been there!