It was the very first night of my 7-year-old’s karate class. He was super excited to try something new, almost as excited as I was to see him dressed in his brand-new karate uniform. There was just one problem, I had to bring his 5-year-old brother along too. He promised to be on his best behavior and just to quietly watch his brother learn all the cool moves. Dad was not home to watch him that evening, so it wasn’t like I had a choice either way.
The class started off well enough. My 7-year-old was slightly out of place since he had never tried karate before, but he was enjoying it. Meanwhile, I kept shoving my phone at my 5-year-old, trying to keep him entertained for the entire hour as not to disturb the other students and parents. After a nerve-wracking hour of wrangling the precocious boy, the class was finally coming to an end. My 7-year-old ran up to me and high-fived me, proud of his new accomplishments. As I struggled to gather all of our gear to leave, the 5-year-old decided to play “finger guns” and pretend shoot at his brother and me.
That is when it happened.
A man in his late 40s approached me with what I can only describe as irritation and disappointment in his voice. He began to scold me. He told me how I shouldn’t let my child make gun noises or sounds and they won’t appreciate that when he goes to school.
Feeling flustered and embarrassed in front of all the other parents, I awkwardly thanked him, yes, THANKED HIM, and scrambled to finish packing up our things so I could get out of there as fast as humanly possible. The man scoffed in disgust as my son continued making gestured and gun noises despite my obvious discomfort and quiet scolding. I could not get out of there fast enough.
Despite the wonderful high fives a few minutes earlier, I spent the entire ride home in tears. Embarrassed, ashamed, and angry.
I am sure you have been there, too. You are in a moment of anxiousness, stress, and aggravation, and some well-meaning “good Samaritan” decides to let you know exactly what you are doing wrong. I should have let this guy have it, but my overly polite nature got the better of me, and I swallowed his awful words and let them poison my entire evening.
The world just is not accepting of those imperfect moments, are they? When did we become a society that expects children who never misbehave or parents who never have bad days? When did it become socially acceptable for someone to reach out and belittle a struggling parent instead of offering encouragement or a helping hand? I have wondered this a lot in my time as a parent. As a mother of three boys, I can tell you, I am no stranger to the former.
The world hates moms it would seem.
We are expected to be perfect in all avenues of life. We should have the perfect house, cook the perfect meals, work the perfect job (as if one exists), and have perfectly well-behaved children. Well, let me tell you a little secret . . . NONE of this exists.
Dare I say, we are all struggling in this job of motherhood. Show me one Pinterest-perfect mother with her matching clothes and perfect hair in place, and I will show you a mother who secretly cries in the bathroom when she needs a break.
We are all trying to achieve this unrealistic expectation that has set us up for certain failure.
Why do we do this to ourselves? I have had conversations with different parents over the years, and I can tell you, we are all dying to be released from this awful prison that we create for ourselves. More often than not, it is the pressure we feel that destroys our ability to effectively parent and make good decisions for ourselves and our family.
I feel like it is time to end this societal lie and start being supportive of our fellow mothers.
I write this as a plea for all of you out there who feel this way, do not be afraid when your child acts out in public, they ALL do! Do not be angry when some stranger tells you what you did wrong or how you can do better. Most of the time, this is about making them feel better, and it has nothing to do with you.
And, if you come across one of those struggling mothers who has a cart full of children and you can see she is slowly losing her mind, offer words of comfort. Tell her it’s going to be OK. She will get through this. Tell her we are all a mess and that is OK.
At the end of the day, if we are doing our best, then this is enough—no matter what it looks like to someone else. You do not have to have the perfect kids or the perfect house. Your laundry can be all over the floor, and yes, the kids can have cereal for dinner. You are a mom, and you are amazing. We are all in this with you.