I can remember just one time when an older woman stopped and took the time to compliment me on something I was doing with my son. I still remember exactly where we were, what happened and precisely how great it made me feel!
Unfortunately I also remember countless glares, stares and unwanted lectures from strangers. people telling me what I should or should not do with my baby, how many children I should have, (and at what age I should have them!) people assuming that my child was my younger brother or making obvious glances between my big pregnant belly and my ring-less left hand (my hands were too swollen to wear my wedding ring). I have left more than one store crying because of the rude things that were said to me. Granted, I was hormonal every time I left crying, but that is just ridiculous to be made to cry in a grocery store by an inconsiderate stranger!
On good days I can shrug off the glares and stares, on really good days I can ignore the people who swoop in to tell me what I MUST do with my child. But it is a struggle. Motherhood is hard. and a lot of days I could really use some one saying “hey! you are doing a great job!”. Unfortunately, people who are encouragers tend to be way more silent than the people who want to tell you what a poor job you must be doing because you are young.
Now that baby girl is here, I have been greeted in public with a new phrase. “my, you have your hands full don’t you?” While I prefer this to the glares I used to get, it still gets annoying. If I have a lot of errands to run I sometimes turn it into a game “I wonder how many times we’ll hear that phrase before we leave target today?…”Some days I have to mentally prepare myself to enter stores because of the comments/glances I know I will get from people.
So this is an appeal to all the random strangers that encounter young mothers. . . Instead of using your words to say something obvious like, “you have your hands full” why don’t you say something encouraging…It is apparent to everyone that I have my hands full, but let me make it clear, I wanted them to be. I love that they are full, so stop making it sound like its a bad thing!
But let’s be honest, I haven’t slept in 3 days, my baby wants to nurse every 5 minutes (it seems), my toddler has more energy than a zoo full of monkeys and I still haven’t figured out how to get both kids to nap at the same time! My dear randoms stranger, instead of looking at me with pity, and making me struggle not to feel bad or like I’ve made some grave error in my life, could you please smile, and say “what adorable kids” or “I bet you three have a lot of fun together” or “they look so happy” or ANYTHING positive. I’ve already been puked on multiple times today, my toddler probably kicked me in the head when I was getting him dressed, and I’m walking through this store singing my son’s favorite song about a tractor while trying not to forget anything from our shopping list! I’m fully covered on the ‘discouraged’ and ‘overwhelmed’ front. So please, if you have to say something, make it kind, and encouraging. I’ll make the time to listen, if you would take the time to say something nice.
*I feel like I have to add a disclaimer, I love my kids, it is SUCH a joy to be their mommy. I feel so completely blessed, although I do miss sleeping ;) I don’t regret anything, I just get annoyed. Most especially when I’m sleep deprived! and after thinking about this, I am personally going to make a habit of being actively encouraging to moms of little ones when I see them! because wow, I never knew how much they/we could really use the encouragement!