As I was walking into the library the other day I saw another mom leaving the library. She caught my attention because she holding a newborn baby in a carrier in her right hand and grasping a toddler who was screaming and flailing and kicking in her left arm. She looked so disheveled. She had her diaper bag slung over her shoulder but no library books. She probably got dressed that morning thinking that she was ahead of the game. She was wearing a super-cute, summer outfit: a bright orange tank top and shorts that actually matched. Her hair was down, and she had the blond, beach-wave look going on. She was looking like a hip mom who had her sh!t together. Minus the screaming toddler.
She probably woke up that morning and thought: “I’m going to be a great mom today. I will take my kids to the library. We will get out of the house and do something educational.” She got dressed, got her kids dressed, ate breakfast and headed out the door. That in itself is a victory. She was probably thinking, wow, this motherhood thing isn’t so hard after all. But then it happened. For some reason her toddler decided to throw a temper tantrum right in the middle of the library. The library. A place where we are supposed to be really, really quiet. A place where we need to use manners. But, there is no way to predict when a public toddler temper tantrum (PTTT) will occur. I’m sure she felt like everyone was staring at her. And, some people were. Some of those stares were from other moms, and some weren’t. I know what the other moms were thinking: “Phew! Glad that’s not me right now.” Because we’ve all been there. I know that’s what I was thinking. The thing is, us moms, we don’t know why our toddler throws tantrums. They just happen. Sometimes out of nowhere. We can bribe, yell, ignore… I’ve tried it all. But, the only solution to a PTTT is to leave. That’s it. You may have already ordered food. You may have to still finish shopping. You may be with a bunch of friends. But, a PTTT means it’s time to go. Immediately. And, it doesn’t matter if you are a good mom, skinny mom, fit mom, stay at home mom, working mom. Your toddler will throw a temper tantrum in public. And, you will feel judged as a bad mom for it.
Before we became “mom” we were able to look good, go out and easily trick people into thinking that we had it all together. Once you become “mom” you never know when your next embarrassing moment is going to be. But, as I watched this mom struggle her way out the door I saw another woman stop. She gently took the baby carrier from the mom and walked next to her all the way through the parking lot. The women placed the carrier on the ground outside of the mom’s minivan and then walked back into the library. It didn’t look like a word was spoken between them. As I watched the mom struggle to get her toddler into the car, I thought to myself, “Why didn’t I do that? Why didn’t I help?” The whole time I had just kind of half-stared at the struggling mom (I didn’t want to look too nosy!) and I felt really badly for her, but that’s it. I know what the mom felt when she finally got in her car and shut all the doors because I’ve been there. She probably felt relieved – but she probably also felt like crying. Why do these things happen? It can be so frustrating. All of that work to get out the door only to have to leave the library feeling defeated without any books to show for all the effort. But, this is why us moms go for that afternoon coffee treat. Or, spend a couple minutes scrolling through Facebook while our kids are playing on the playground. We just want to enjoy a few moments while our kids are all behaving in unison. We can actually feel the judgmental laser beams that eyeballs are shooting onto our backs as we check our phone in public; or as our toddler as has a temper tantrum. I don’t know why it’s so easy for others to assume that we aren’t doing our best job as a mom. All I know is, next time, I am going to stop and help that struggling mom. And not just the mom with a toddler throwing a temper tantrum, but any struggling mom. And, I hope someone will stop and help me too. Because it is so hard to be a mom. We are doing our best and learning as we go. We love our kids with all our hearts. So stop judging us.
Has this ever happened to you? Tell me a story about a time that someone helped you out. Or, when you rescued another struggling mom. We are all in this together.