My Reality: 
To the lady at Pei-Wei with seven kids,

My name is Nicole. I am pretty sure you saw me tonight at the restaurant as you and I surely made eye contact when you walked by with your baby. That wasn’t the first time I took notice of you. I saw when you walked in with your brood. For a hot second, I felt like “she’s like me.” I was thinking “this is like when I go out of the house and venture into public with my three kiddos.” But, nope. Who was I kidding? I was wrong. This was nothing like me being out and about with my three children. Why? Because you have SEVEN. Yes, seven children with you, one of which was an infant. Now, I have no idea if you are their nanny, their very much older sister, or their aunt, but my hunch is that you are most definitely their mom. And, you are not just any mom—you are Supermom.

As we were sitting there eating our food, I started to think about how I complain all of the time about how hard being a mother of three is. I mumble and grumble, often, about how exhausting and draining it is. I also conveniently use it as a crutch claiming that “I have no time” for self-care. But, here was this beautiful woman parenting seven children way better than I parent even just one of my three. You know what else I admire about her? She seemed so cool, calm and collected.

I just want to say to you, stranger that I don’t know, you are incredibly impressive. You are incredibly selfless. You are incredibly brave to venture out to a restaurant with six children and a baby who could not have been more than six months of age. Do you know what else you are? You are an inspiration—to me and to others that observe you, I suspect. Not only did you keep it all together at Pei Wei, but so did your children. Your children were respectful and helpful. 

Listen, you are doing amazing, and I just felt that you deserved to hear that. Keep it up. Keep it all up—everything you are doing.

A fan of yours,
A mother of three

Her Reality:
To the lady and family I disturbed at Pei Wei,

Hi. You don’t know me, but I am pretty sure you saw me tonight at the restaurant with my seven children. You and I surely made eye contact when I walked by with my baby. I saw your glance, and I know you were probably judging me for bringing seven children into a restaurant. That wasn’t the first time I took notice of you. I saw you when I walked in with my brood. For a hot second, I felt like “oh, no . . . we are going to annoy this family.” I was thinking “this family is going to be so frustrated that their peaceful dinner was interrupted by us.” But, nope. Who was I kidding? I was wrong, because not only did we interrupt your nice dinner, we made it impossible for you hear each other over our family’s loud conversation and boisterous behavior.  “This is nothing,” I thought to myself. You are wondering why I would even venture out of the house with my seven children, but you don’t even think for a hot second how I must feel being stuck inside the house all day with my seven children. Yes, I made the decision to have so many children, and yes, I love them more than anything, but it is hard work, and I wish you wouldn’t judge me while I am in the thick of it, you apparent Supermom.

As I was sitting there attempting to get all of my children to eat their food, I started to think about how I complain all of the time about how hard being a mother of seven is. I mumble and grumble, often, about how exhausting and draining it is. I also conveniently use it as a crutch claiming that “I have no time” for self-care. But, here was this beautiful woman parenting three children way better than I parent even just one of my seven. You know what else I admire about her? She seemed so cool, calm and collected. And guess what? It turns out she wasn’t looking at me to judge me—she was looking at me because she admired me. This kind stranger was looking at me with the goal of attempting to encourage me and reassure me that I am a good mom. At least that is the impression her latest glance gave me.

I just want to say to you, stranger I don’t know, I find you incredibly impressive, empathetic and supportive. You are incredibly non-judgmental, unlike so much of the world. You are incredibly compassionate to support my decision to take seven children out, by myself. Do you know what else you are? You are an inspiration—to me and to others who observe you, I suspect. You know who else you are an inspiration to you? Your children, because you are teaching them how to make friends in this world, how to support others and how to maintain a general compassionate nature and mindset towards strangers—even those who make your meals a little noisier.

Listen, you are doing great, and I just felt that you deserved to hear that. Keep it up. Keep it all up—everything you are doing.

A fan of yours,
The stranger with seven children

We build each other up and in doing so, we build a better world. Who will you build up today? 

Nicole Merritt

Nicole Merritt is a mother of three and the Owner and Founder of jthreeNMe, an imperfectly authentic peek at real-life marriage, parenting, and self-improvement. jthreeNMe is raw, honest, empowering, inspiring, and entertaining; it’s like chicken soup for those that are exhausted, over-stressed and under-inebriated, yet still utterly happy. Nicole's work has been featured by Scary Mommy, The Good Men Project, BLUNTmoms, Thought Catalog, Everyday Family, Motherly & many others. You can follow Nicole at jthreeNMe and on FacebookPinterestInstagram & Twitter!