Monday, October 17, 2011

I definitely have more to say than just a once-a-month post but, holy shit, life needs to slow down.

A lot of what is going on with my life cannot be discussed over the interwebs because it's job related but I sure do need this outlet more than ever. A friend suggested carrying a notebook with me to get some thoughts out on paper during the day and I definitely need to do that. It's good for the soul to get negative thoughts out.

Anyway. My motherhood story of the week...

On Saturday, I went to Target (surprise, surprise). I was childless, just running in to get a few things. It was busy because it was a cloudy day and a cloudy day in Florida is equal to a temperature of 7 degrees up north. People get all mopey and bored, using retail therapy to self soothe. Ridiculous, sure, but very true.

I was making my way up to the cash registers and I notice a young mom in front of me with a cart full of items. She had a toddler in her cart, maybe close to 2 years old, and an elementary school aged boy, maybe 6 or 7. The mom was well composed, maybe a little too much so, wearing a super cute outfit, full make-up and flawless hair. Point being, her appearance, as well as her kids' appearance and behavior, seemed that of appropriate adjustment and left me no reason to think she was a bad mother.

A few feet away from the cash register lanes, her toddler decided to have an epic meltdown. Epic. Huge. Meltdown. I couldn't decide exactly what set him off but it was a typical toddler tantrum. It had something to do with his Spiderman Halloween costume and possibly not being able to put it on right then and there. I heard the mom appropriately say, "Shhhh. Calm down", and all sorts of other soothing, pleading phrases, that had an underlying meaning of "Please shut the fuck up, kid, because you are making me one of those moms". The kid didn't care. He was full on screaming, angry at the world, ready to rip off his own limbs in a fit of rage, mad. The mom looked embarrassed, tried to soothe him by picking him up and distracting him, to no avail, so she did like most modern moms would do and ignore him.

As she and I settled into different register lines, right next to one another, while the kid is still screaming, I instantly felt compassion and sympathy for the mom. I had that sinking feeling in my stomach for her. The one where you KNOW you are being judged and silently ridiculed by everyone around....only this time, people weren't so silent.

There were two old ladies, meaning over the age of 70, behind me in my register line and they immediately began to verbalize their disapproval for this young mom's parenting skills, cackling something along the lines of, "She should not have brought that child out in a crabby mood like that!", and, "Why do mom's these days think it's ok to just ignore that kind of behavior? She's not even doing anything to stop him".

Overhearing these comments prompted my (also old lady-ish) cashier to say to me, as she's ringing up my purchases, "My. Things aren't like they used to be. In my day, we would have left our cart and taken that kid outside for a few minutes and set him straight", insinuating that some sort of physical discipline would ensue "outside" and only when the kid shuts up would they return to the store to continue shopping in a more appropriate manner.

All of these opinionated remarks, along with all of the disgusting glares this poor girl was getting thrown in her direction, were making my blood boil for her and for every mom with a toddler.
So, I said so.

"Maybe it's possible that you ladies don't remember what it's like to have a 2 or 3 year old. I've been there and it's not easy to correct that type of behavior, especially when you're by yourself without another adult, and especially when giving the behavior attention can sometimes make it worse."

Well. That was a mistake because clearly, beating your children made a lot more sense to these women. They fired back other "You don't know how to parent either" type of comments.

I gave up on the argument but I just found it surprising how women criticize one another, especially moms, instead of empathizing when they've been there. There, with that tantruming toddler, or any other motherhood situation.
I could easily go into a whole philosophical rant about women need to stop judging one another and how giving a mom in this situation an empathetic smile, or even brief words of encouragement, could make her day, but I won't.

All I'll say is this: Stop being so mean. Be nice. Everyone is traveling their own tough path. Assume she is doing the best she can and smile with encouragement. It's just the right thing to do.