I was a perfect mother until I had children.
Prior to my on-the job training in How to Raise a Child When You Don’t Have the Slightest Idea What You’re Doing, I’d see kids acting up in the grocery store and think, “Well. That mother needs to practice first-time obedience.” When I noticed babies with runny noses, I wondered, “Can’t that woman see her child needs a tissue?” Now I know that fifth-time obedience often feels like an accomplishment and most babies react to having their nose wiped as if they’re being tortured.
I want to be a mom who encourages other moms. I want to give what I’d like to get. The following well-timed words (along with a couple phrases to keep to myself, thank you very much) seem to be a good place to start:
Three things I’m going to tell other moms more often:
“You’re doing a great job.” While she was out shopping, a friend of a friend saw another mother doing her best not to overreact to the meltdown her two-year-old was having. Other shoppers were throwing dirty looks at the weary mom, so the woman observing the scene went up to her, gave her a hug, and told her, “You’re doing a great job.” We get this kind of feedback as students with an “A” on a test or as employees with a raise or a positive review. But as moms? Well, the feedback I’m getting these days is mostly the annoyed throat-clearing I hear from my tween whenever I slip up and refer to her father and sister as, respectively, “daddy” and “sissy.” WHICH I have been doing for 11 years and will require more than 10 minutes to convert to “dad” and “sister.” Honestly, if another mom tells me she thinks I’m doing anything right, it feels better than acing a test or getting a bump up in salary. Since I assume I’m not the only one who feels this way, I want to try to look for opportunities to pass along kudos to my partners in parenting.
“Is there anything I can do to help?” After giving a word of encouragement to the mom in the store, my friend’s friend asked if she could help somehow. Her kind offer was tearfully and gratefully received, and she ended up distracting the toddler so his mother could finish her errand. As moms, this is often what we need most: someone to help carry the load for just a few minutes so we can pull ourselves together, do what needs to be done—and get the heck out of the store.