So today was a bit of an exceptional day for me...
As I went out for my regular daily stroll and grocery shopping, I also decided to go by a bakery to get a birthday cake for my husband - I was feeling happy and excited to get something delicious for my dear hubby and picked out the cakes I liked the most and went to pay. While looking for my credit card a customer next to me told me that I am ridiculous for doing it - pointing at my little ones. I smiled and said, you mean having two little ones close in age? Thinking in my head.... yeah, it maybe a bit difficult at times, but so worth it at the same time... BUT my smile and happy thoughts about parenthood were instantly turned into a full on lion-mommy-protecting-the-cubs mode when she continued... FOR BRINGING THEM TO THE STORE WITH ME and blocking the entry way.
To be clear, I was not blocking the entry way as she entered after me, got her things and was also waiting to pay. It is true that there was less space to get through (about 0,5m or so) as I have a double stroller and the bakery was not huge... but I did pick the widest part and left enough space for people to get by taking turns.
So I asked the lady, what should I do then as she went on and on how terrible I am and I could see she was visibly upset. I explained I can not leave my children outside on the street while I go to the shop and I also can not leave them home alone as they are only 1 & 3 years old.
When a mother goes to the store, the kids go too! Also applies to going to a restroom (when you are a parent, you know it!), out for a walk, visiting a friend etc. She totally failed to understand it and said I NEED TO FIND a different way of doing things. I then asked if I should not go to the stores any longer? She did not have a clear answer and continued to be super upset with me. I did not understand her anger at that point and as I had managed to pay for my goods, I left. But that unsettling feeling of getting yelled at from out of the blue for such a silly reason got me thinking... Why are mothers so misunderstood and under appreciated.
It really is hard to be a stay-at-home mother of two (even one) little ones - everywhere I go, they go, everything I do, they do. As my kids do not attend kindergarten at the moment and my husband leaves for work before they wake up and comes home around their bed time, my days get really busy and I have no other option than taking them with me when I run errands and go out, that includes grocery shopping at times. And even that can be a challenge - while a simple task to a person without kids, for a mother it can go like this...
- get your first child dressed (currently several layers of winter clothes)
- chase your toddler and try getting him dressed while he tries to get undressed at the same time
- get your first child in a stroller, chase your other one once again
- try tricking your toddler into getting in a stroller so you could get ready
- get your own clothes on
- go to the stroller just to realise that your baby now has a poopie diaper
- get your baby undressed, change him, get him dressed again and into to stroller we go
- leave home and go to the store that has wide enough spaces for a (double) stroller
- try going through the store without your kids touching & pulling off everything they can reach from their seats
- take your kids hats off, unzip their jackets as it gets too hot in the store
- pay, pack the bags and give something to your kids to entertain them as they are bored, possibly screaming and more than ready to escape the stroller and store, also get them dressed again
- IF you drove, ADD FEW steps like getting the kids out of the stroller, put them in their car seats, fold the stroller, put all the bags in a car and when you reach home, you can do it all over again in reverse :)
All these steps take time and energy and it is just a small part of the day, for example, when I do my make up, my kids sit next to me and play with and chew my make up brushes, when I cook breakfast, my toddler "helps" me crack the eggs (sometimes by throwing them on the floor), when I vacuum the floor, my kids make sure to press the on/off button like 50 times to make it more fun etc.. And nothing is ever quick, nothing takes "just 5 minutes". Don't get me wrong, I am not complaining, I have always wanted kids and I kind of knew what it would be like, but I do not understand why should people give me a mean look and yell at me when I am out and about trying my very best to excel in this job of being a parent.
I guess that specific lady probably had a bad day or she does not have children of her own. I remember, before I had children, I used to secretly somewhat judge young moms on their phones while pushing a stroller or walking way ahead of their kids on street. I mistakenly thought that they were so addicted to social media that they can not put their phones down, and are forgetting to check on their kid's pace while walking on the streets. Now I know better - pushing a stroller is pretty much the only time I can check my phone as I am too busy taking care of them at home, and while out walking, if I were to slow down and always wait for my son, it would take us hours to go 500m, sometimes he just needs to catch up. So I guess some of the looks can just come from not knowing any better, but I certainly do not expect to get yelled at when I feel like I deserve a medal on certain days for keeping my kids alive and happy at the end of the day, because that is an achievement too! :)
Being a mom is a full time job (without any breaks), and complimenting or encouraging another mama might go a long way. Sometimes all we need is someone else to acknowledge us and say thank you for what we do :) All mothers are doing their best and should not be judged - we are all new to this and there is no one right way of doing things. We just need to find a way that works for us and our family :)
To be honest, being yelled at as a mother, was a one-off for me and certainly my first negative experience with a stranger on a street. I have experienced many positive encounters though, specially with other mothers and I have highly appreciated it. For example I travel with my kids quite often and on several occasion, I fly alone with my two little ones. As my oldest, Liam (3), is super active, my travel days are always full of adventures and totally deserve a blog post on their own, but the best interactions I have had have been at the airports and airplanes.
Once I was waiting on a line to get to the plane and while looking for our boarding passes (with my youngest strapped on me), Liam ran away past security and I could not get there, plus I had to push the stroller and luggage, when a lady next to me with two small children of her own offered to help me get Liam and get my stuff on the plane. I mean, how amazing is that! And once on a plane when I needed to use the restroom, which is quite hard to do with two small children with you in that tiny space.. as you can't just leave your baby and a toddler on a seat "waiting for you", a lady sitting near the restroom offered to help by holding my baby while I go. I understand that these days with Covid etc it may not be the best solution, but at that moment it did help and I was so grateful for her noticing!
I wish we could all say more positive things to other mothers out there as it might just make their day, give a little booster to their mood and simply remind to them that they are not alone in this :) Being a parent is so special and wonderful, children are wonderful and we should celebrate it more! Let's take care of each other and share a friendly smile instead of a mean comment, because we can and it can mean a whole lot to the person receiving it!