Who knew that being a mom would be so tough? I knew that there were going to be hard days with my kids, that they would push my boundaries and my limits to places unknown. I knew that I would love like I’ve never loved before, and cry for reasons that I’d never fully understand. I knew that there would be days that I would wish I could give them back, and days that I’d hope for more babies. What I didn’t expect was all the mommy-judgement from the women around me.
What is up with the total lack of support that we give each other? Why is it that when we look at moms in different situations, we have an instant judgement of what they’re doing or not doing? Why can’t we look at each other with eyes of understanding and grace? Why can’t we just give a reassuring word, a smile or a helping hand? Why can’t we just honour each other as moms doing the best that we know how?
I’ve been glared at, laughed at, ignored and ridiculed on many occasions based on the way I parent and the way that I handle certain situations. People always have an opinion and never seem to be too scared to share it with me. I used to feel like I had to explain my choices or decisions, but have given up.
I’m a foster parent AND the parent of a special needs child. Because of that, I’ve had to work through A LOT of crazy stuff. I’ve taken care of lots of different kids, with lots of different histories … some good and some horrifying. I have to make weird choices and decisions all the time based on what they’re going through or where they’ve come from. You can’t even begin to imagine what I’m dealing with, and I won’t pretend to even know what you’re dealing with. What I do know is that there is a reason for the way I parent, and until we’ve stood in each other’s shoes, we really can’t judge.
I will never forget the day I was shopping in Superstore with my two little ones. My son was about 18 months old and my daughter was about five. At this point, I had no idea that there was something “wrong” with my son so I really didn’t know how to deal with the situation that was about to occur. I entered the canned goods aisle and started putting stuff in my cart. My son immediately started throwing it out on the ground; everything I put in, he threw out. I just assumed he was misbehaving, so I picked it up and put it back. My son was throwing, my daughter was giggling, and I was coping. Suddenly my son started smashing his face on the buggy and screaming. He was repeatedly smashing his face while throwing things out. I stood there in shock for a second and then I saw blood. I immediately shoved my hand between his head and the cart and tried to figure out what to do next. He was now screaming and bleeding, my daughter was crying in fear and I was standing there not knowing what to do.
Now imagine, you come around the corner and spot this scene. A half-loaded shopping cart, with groceries strewn all over the floor, a freaked-out and sobbing toddler, a baby with blood streaming down his face as he continues to smash his face, and a mom standing there dazed and confused. What would you do? If you were like EVERY person that walked by me, you would’ve just kept going or made snide comments as you stared and shuffled by kicking my groceries out of your path. I would’ve killed for someone to stop and say, “Can I help you?” But not one person did. I ended up just taking him out of the cart, taking my daughter by the hand and walking out while he bled everywhere.
I later learned that my son has a sensory processing disorder and he was way over-stimulated and was reacting the only way that he could. Once I knew that, I was prepared for the grocery store, and that has never happened again. But when I would take him shopping wearing a weighted superman cape, a pair of sunglasses and a toque with earflaps, people would still stare and/or laugh. Please just smile and nod and move on….I am doing the best that I can for my little boy.
If you see abuse or feel genuine concern for a child, by all means say something or better yet, do something. But if you see someone stuck in a bad moment and struggling to do their best, give them a smile or a reassuring nod. Sometimes a look of understanding is all that’s needed to bring peace to a situation. I love when someone commiserates with me when I’m in a crazy place with one of my kids. It’s a reminder that I’m not alone in my struggles and that someone else “gets” it.
Moms that have just recently lost their husbands still have to be moms and just don’t have the strength to “parent” right now. Some moms would love to breastfeed but can’t because their cancer treatment drugs can be passed through breast milk. What about the mom struggling with depression that’s too embarrassed to ask for help? Do you think these moms need judgement or unsolicited advice? No. They need compassion and understanding.
I am so honoured to be a mom, and am so thankful for the other moms around me. I’m hopeful that we will all see a little bit of ourselves in each other and put the judgements aside.
April Wiens, The Making of a Mommy Series: April is a Mama to Many, and is addicted to Reality TV and her husband. She spends most of her day working at her 2 businesses, Got Something To Say Vinyl Design & Bumblebee Kids.