I saw the frazzled mother and her children, the whole scene was a disaster. I was disgusted with the train-wreck mama in the grocery store. She should have stayed home.
This mama had a 10-year-old boy in a grocery cart. Behind her was an eight-year-old girl pushing a second buggy, full of groceries. Two more kids were trailing behind the little girl, who were poking each other and fooling around. The mama also had a three-year-old that was having an epic temper tantrum. He was in the front of the cart, this mama was pushing. She hauled him out and spanked his bottom. This mama looked frustrated and angry.
People were staring, judging, and shaking their heads.
I imagined their thoughts, by the look on their faces. “What a terrible mother!” “Why does she have sooo many kids?”
What would you have thought if you saw this mom one day when you were out shopping? Some would have lectured her, shamed her, or reported her to the authorities? Before I had kids, I would have stood in line disgusted with her terrible behaviour.
You know what I found out about this mama?
She had been up all night with her ten-year-old. Her husband worked out of town five days a week. Her three year old had asked for candy three times, and she had told him no each time. She warned him the last time if he whined again, he would get a spanking. But nobody around her, looking in on her situation, knew this. Plus it was her three-year-olds nap time, not the best time to go to the grocery store.
They judged, they shamed, and condemned.
I was disgusted with the train-wreck mama in the grocery store.
I was that mama, nineteen years ago. Not the one judging, but the one pushing the ten-year-old boy, Kyle, with severe autism and the three-year-old having a candy-meltdown. The one disgusted with herself.
I had to keep Kyle in the cart, or we couldn’t do our shopping. He would grab cookies from shelves and open them, and Kyle could run fast out of the store and into traffic. My daughter Charity pushed the groceries because I couldn’t manage two carts. We were a complete train-wreck.
I had been up at night with Kyle, every night multiple times since he was born. I was always tired and exhausted. I hardly heard positive words from other people praising me as a mother. I would have clung to the words, “you are a good mother.”
When you see a mama losing it in the grocery store, ask if you can help. Better yet, share with her the day you blew it as a mom.
We all have our train-wreck days as mamas. I haven’t met a mom yet, who hasn’t completely blown it on her kids… whether she was screaming, belittling, shaming or spanking.
Although some will pretend they haven’t…we all have. Those are the days when we need a friend to come alongside us and say, “I understand, we’ve all been here, it gets better, I promise you.”
Be kind to the mama whose having a bad day.
You may be the only morsel of encouragement she encountered that day. She’s already too hard on herself. The train-wreck mama needs an angel to come to give her a hug, or sweet words of kindness, and understanding when she has her own moments.
Mamas feel like having tantrums too.
My daughter Charity and I drove to a little community called Wawa, two and a half hours north of our city, to speak to moms about raising a special needs child. Charity spoke about what it was like to be raised with a brother who had autism and also talked to the moms about proper nutrition for their children.
We encouraged the moms, but even more – they inspired us.
Two women who had been through motherhood, run the childhood resource centre. They shared with us their mission: to gather mom’s together and help them to see their not alone, and that other mom’s are going through what they are experiencing.
*You’re not alone.
*The baby will sleep all night eventually.
*It’s okay to have a bad day.
*You are a good mother.
*Take some time for yourself
This is what every mom with children needs, a support network and community to embrace her and guide her on a journey that can be lonely, and hard if she has no mama-friendships.
You can be part of that community. When you see a frazzled mama with her little chicks toddling beside her, shelter this mama, encourage her and tell her she’s a beautiful mom and her days will get better.
They say it takes a village to raise a child. But it also takes a caring community to support the mom so she can be her best mama-self.
You are the village, embrace her and be the shelter during the storms.