You stand in line at the grocery store holding your baby as you dig in your purse for your wallet with one hand. He just got over a fever and this is the first time you’ve been out of the house in three days.
Your two-year-old sits in the cart, squirming to get out, crying. He’s been even more restless than you these last few days, but the trip to the store didn’t end up being the breath of fresh air you’d hoped for.
Your five-year-old stands next to you, one hand on the cart like you’ve taught her. You see the worry on her face as she watches her little brother cry. He throws a graham cracker on the ground and she quickly picks it up and gives it back to him.
“Please don’t give that to him; it’s dirty,” you say, still digging for your wallet.
She grabs it out of his hands before he eats it.
The baby whimpers against your chest.
Your wallet has disappeared in the depths of your purse, amidst the hand sanitizer, baby wipes, and sunscreen (which is still in there even though it’s January).
“It’s in here somewhere,” you promise the clerk, feeling embarrassed.
You feel the people in line behind you getting impatient.
Your toddler’s cries get louder.
“Can you get him a new cracker?” you ask your daughter. She digs in the diaper bag and hands him a new cracker. He throws that one on the ground too.
The mom behind you makes a face of disapproval. Her two kids–about 4 and 6–stand next to their cart quietly. “That boy’s mad,” says her littlest one. She nods.
You find your wallet and pay, as fast as you can. You feel yourself starting to sweat.
“Can I get some gum?” your daughter asks as the groceries are getting bagged, tapping your side. She grabs a pack of gum off the shelf.
“No,” you say, pointing for her to put it back. “I already paid.”
Your baby’s whimper gets louder and he moves his little head from side to side. You wonder if the fever is returning. Maybe you shouldn’t have brought him out of the house so soon.
“But I want gum,” your daughter argues. She’s been so patient these last couple of days as all of your attention has been focused on the baby, and now it’s her turn to act up.
“No, honey. Let’s go,” you say, motioning her to follow as you push the cart forward.
She stands there, not moving.
The other mom stares at you. You smile at her, and she does a curt smile back. You feel guilty for making her wait in line so long.
“Let’s go, ” you say to your daughter again, this time firmer. “We need to get your brothers home.”
“I don’t want to go home,” she says, whining. You pull her hand, coaxing her out as she continues to argue and as your two-year-old’s–and now your baby’s–cries escalate.
And in spite of the noise, you hear the mom that was behind you say, “Well that was challenging,” to the clerk.
And you feel like a total failure.
Somehow, you manage to get out of the store without crying, but the minute you get all the kids buckled in, you put your sunglasses on and the tears fall.
Why does being a mom feel so hard sometimes?…
If you’re a mom, you’ve been there at one point or another–in the checkout line with kids crying or saying no, or even refusing to listen to you. Right?
And you also know that motherhood is hard enough without the judging stares or comments from others,
or the finger pointing that can make us feel like we’re failing.
(Because there’s nothing worse as a mom than feeling like we’re failing.)
So the next time we see a mom struggling,
instead of judging…
let’s help her,
or smile at her,
or pray for her,
or encourage her.
And if we all did that, just think how much easier being a mom would become. :)
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