Wednesday, March 25, 2015

You're Doing a Good Job--My Letter to a Young Mother

Dear Mama in The Checkout Line,
I saw you well before you got in the checkout line behind me.  It was hard not to notice.  Your little guy was making his displeasure known and I watched as you walked back and forth and back and forth and back and forth before he finally quieted down enough for you to gather your things and, dare I say, your sanity and walk over to the checkout line of least resistance, the one directly across from where you stopped pacing. 

B--20 months
And I saw what you saw too.  The people.  Oh, the people and their various stages of disapproval.  The stares, the flat lined mouths, the whispers, Mama, they weren't lost on me.
Let me tell you something, Mama.  I've been there.  I've been there more times than I can count.  That's why I turned to you and said, "You're doing a great job."  Your eye roll said it all, but I felt the defeat in your voice when you said, "It doesn't seem like it."  Oh, mama.  Girl, I know where you're coming from.  "The days are long but the years are short," I told you. "We're all doing the best we can."
C--9 Months
 See, Mama, what I didn't tell you was that there have been times, especially in my early parenting years, when I could have used a "You're doing a good job" myself.  The time the lady walked up to me and told me that my 6 month old would have horse teeth if I kept letting him suck that pacifier, the time that a man told me he thought baby wearing was cruel, the time that the woman tsked at me for giving my child a bottle instead of breastfeeding, even though she didn't actually ask what was in the bottle, the time that my kid threw up all over everything in a store and not one person, not even an employee stopped to help, the time the lady gave me "the stare" because my child was excited over a display of frogs and kept saying it but it sounded suspiciously like another four letter F word, the time that the guy told me I was what was wrong with the world for letting my kid bring his Gameboy in the pharmacy when I knew it was going to be a long wait and I was sick, the time that a lady told me my newborn was going to have diabetes because he was a big baby, the time that my 2 year old child was having a meltdown in a restaurant and a man loudly exclaimed that his kids didn't act like that and I should beat my toddlers rear end.  Don't even get me started about all of the fun and awesome things people have said since I started homeschooling.  And mama, the disapproving looks.  I've had more of those than I can count.  These are all moments that are imbedded in my mind because they are all times when I was made to feel like a failure.  Anybody, anybody, could have reached out in that moment and let a young mother know that she was doing the best that she could, but no one did and I was left to navigate those waters alone.

A--5 Months
D--4 Months
 Here's the thing, mama.  Sally Sue the Disapproving isn't raising these kids of mine and or that sweet baby of yours..  There are going to be times when you're embarrassed and you feel like a failure.  It will happen.  And your little guy is, what maybe a year old?  Sugar girl, you've got a long time of feeling that way.  And then one day you will blink and that baby will be talking about colleges and getting his license and scoping out some pink haired girl in the mall and you'll be like, "What just happened?"  Here's what I figured out though, mama.  I am doing a good job. Yeah, I'm doing the best I can and it's not perfect.  And you may not feel like it right now, but guess what, mama.  You're doing the best you can too.  And it's a good job.

Peace and Love,
Jen

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