For those of you with children I am sure you have been in the position where you have been out in public with an out of control child. Or perhaps just unable to meet your own needs while slowly drowning beneath the children crawling all over you, getting their bodily fluids on you. There’s no shame in this game, it’s just real life. So I want to put out a call to action. Help a mother out.
You can do this if you have kids, you can do this if you don’t have kids. You can do this if you’re a man, or woman, or other. We find ourselves in these dire and vulnerable situations and any and all help is needed and generally speaking appreciated.
Let me paint a picture with an example of what I am talking about.
So when I was only a mother of one I was flying by myself when my son was six months old to visit family. My flight was through United (don’t ever book a flight with United they are the fucking worst) and my plane was delayed for six hours. Given the fact that this was my first flight with an infant I had been too cheap to pay to check my bag. I have never made that mistake again. However here I was stranded in LaGuardia lugging around my suitcase my diaper bag and my baby for six hours when I had already been traveling for 18 hours at that point. At which point a group of sorority girls on spring break made eyes with my adorable baby and started squealing with delight at how cute he is. I promptly handed them my baby told them to watch my bags and with their dumbfounded faces staring at my back I ran to the nearest bathroom to relieve myself. Granted in this scenario they did not offer help but I am not the kind of gal that waits to get her needs met.
I have returned favors like this on countless occasions. A screaming baby at the grocery store, I will stop and make ridiculous faces and move on once the child is soothed. A mother holding an infant at a fair going to use a porta potty, I will hold that baby and talk the whole time so that the mother can hear my voice and know that in fact I am not taking her baby because I’ll be damned if I need another kid in my house. I have been back up childcare for friends doctors appointments, I have rummaged through clothing when a friend needs hand me downs, I have stopped and told mothers that they’re doing a great job when they’re clearly about to pull their hair out, I have seen kids running away and notified parents, and I have given hugs to mothers in tears in line at TJ Maxx. This is hard fucking shit, and there’s no one specific guidebook that addresses the needs of multiple children and a family. The game changes every day and what worked yesterday will not necessarily work tomorrow. Children have needs and limitations that often do not fit into modern day society with things like running errands, or doing housework. I often times do not feel like I am succeeding in motherhood but merely surviving. We need each other’s help. The emotional toll of constantly being screamed at, peed on, kicked, woken up in the night, is all equivalent to the tactics used in Guantánamo Bay. This is not a drill this is real life.
And I want to say that I write this from the context of a mothers perspective, but help a father out too. I have absolutely offered support to my male counterparts I am not here in solidarity with just mothers, but with parents in general.
So let’s just make it a bit easier on each other. Offer a helping hand. Hold back personal judgements. Lend a sympathetic ear. Clean a toilet when going to visit a family with a new baby. Be kind. And try to smile, because you are doing a great job.