Congratulations new mothers, expecting mothers, and mothers who have managed to keep their children alive thus far. You have done an amazing thing. Probably the most important thing you will do in your life-- granted you don't discover a cure for cancer or prevent an asteroid from smashing into the planet.
If you're new to this crazy train known as motherhood, I'm going to prepare you for something you will inevitably encounter along your beautiful journey. You are going to hear every variation of "you're doing it wrong," you can possibly imagine. It will typically be cloaked under the guise of seemingly well-meaning advice or statements such as, "well, I did it THIS way and my child turned out fine." And congratulations super mommies, you've done a truly wonderful thing by raising such a special gem. But this post is not for you. This post is for us mere mortals whose normal children pitch temper tantrums at inappropriate times and feed their vegetables to the dogs when we're not looking.
All sarcasm aside, it appears some "veteran mommies" are suffering from long-term memory loss. I love you mom, but I know for a fact I wasn't the angelic child you so lovingly reflect upon. Remember that one time I was grounded all summer and you had to work? Instead of staying indoors like you told me, I snuck outside every day. When you called to check on me, I had the cordless phone with me and I would dash back to the house to answer the phone, pretending I was glumly serving out my punishment from the confines of our home. I really wasn't. I was having an awesome summer. Sorry about that.
To all of you mommies, I see you struggling in the supermarket with your wailing toddler. Ignoring the glares from onlookers who are muttering, "my kids know better than to behave like that in public." I understand you. In fact, just yesterday I was you. And that's why I know there are so many reasons why your child is misbehaving, and equally as many reason why you may be letting them.
The crux of humanity is that it allows us only to truly know what is happening in our own lives. We know nothing of the lives of strangers. Though we can occasionally catch a small glimpse of a brief second of a tiny fraction of their lives, it's not enough to understand what they may be going through. It's definitely not enough to use to judge them for. Or it shouldn't be. Motherhood is not a competition. And contrary to the belief of the mother in front of you, driving the minivan peppered with the 'my kid is on the honor roll' bumper stickers, you don't receive a trophy or gold star for creating an awesome child. This isn't to say you shouldn't strive to raise an upstanding citizen, we all should. But the simple fact is what works for you may not necessarily work for another. And it has taken me three years and a lot of stolen moments spent sneaking Snickers Bars in the closet, feverishly praying for Mr. A to return from work for me to come to this realization.
There is one basic and universal truth about motherhood--it's hard. All the parenting classes in all of the world cannot possibly prepare you for it. You can scour every book in the parenting section of your local bookstore and sign up for every baby website, but it will never be enough. No book can accurately describe the level of sleep deprivation, anxiousness and absolute joy you will feel looking at your children--sometimes all at once.
Maybe the next time you see the lady in the store with the rambunctious children, instead of judging her, you'll give her a reassuring smile. Motherhood is hard enough without the added pressures of dealing with the disapproving looks and snide remarks. And quite like that annoying song from that Disney musical, "we're all in this together."
So for every mother everywhere that has accidentally left the diaper bag home, snuck a candy bar in a closet while playing hide and go seek with your toddler, or are convinced that your child will need therapy later in life because that one time you left them at the grocery store, you are not alone!
Happy Mother's Day to all of you amazing ladies. Enjoy that one special day out of the year that we all pause to pay tribute to the incredible women who have helped mold and shape our lives!