“Some people obviously just don’t watch their kids,” you said as you jerked your children away from my toddler in the play area, cutting your eyes at me.

I was dumbfounded. “I WAS watching him!” I wanted to scream at you. You were upset because the play between our sons had suddenly turned not-so-nice, I understand your frustration. I don’t like to see my babies upset either. At the time, though, I was trying my hardest to quell the screams of my 9-month-old while wrangling my 2-year-old, and it was just about as easy as it looked.

I saw when my son pushed yours, and before I even had the chance to say anything to him, you swooped in. I’m not complaining about that, I get it. You didn’t even give me the chance to try to right my son’s wrong, or notice that your son had been trying to pull him down, though. You judged me instead. 

What you didn’t know is that my husband and I recently separated.

You don’t know that sometimes my toddler is so confused by the fact that Mommy is in one place and Daddy is in another.

You don’t know that sometimes, that confusion shows its face through anger.

You don’t know any of that, but you judged us anyway. 

What you didn’t know is that we had already been at that appointment for two hours. My son had asked to leave several times, and I had run out of simple ways to explain why we couldn’t just yet. 

What you didn’t know is that my 9-month-old has been sick with some mysterious virus on top of teething. All three of us have been missing out on some much-needed sleep this week since my boys share a room. You didn’t know that he was screaming because he’s exhausted and doesn’t feel well, and that’s why it was important for me to be tending to him at the moment. 

What you don’t know is that I cried the entire way home because of our encounter. I’m normally pretty good at keeping the feelings stashed away about what kind of job I’m doing as these boys’ mama, the ones who seem to be screaming at me that I’m failing at every turn, but tonight your words echoed for my entire drive. 

I’m doing the best I can, mama. I’m sorry that sometimes, some things fall through the cracks.

I’m sorry that sometimes I’m not as “on my toes” as I’d like to be.

I’m sorry that my children and I aren’t perfect.

We’re trying, though, just like you. 

You see mama, I could tell that it had been a long day for you. Your kids were being, well, kids. You looked tired. I understand that you saw your sons interaction with mine as just one more thing to deal with in this seemingly never-ending day. 

Let’s try to give each other a little more grace next time, mama. I know the stories behind your eyes are words I may never read, but just because I haven’t seen them doesn’t mean you don’t bear their weight.

Instead of judging one another, let’s lighten the load.

Let’s extend each other the grace that only mamas can.

Shelbie Tanner

I’m a full time bookkeeper, but my favorite “job” is being Mama to my sons. I have a love for all things personalized, early morning cuddles, and way too many sweets. Writing is my favorite way to talk about how much I love motherhood and my hope is that the things I write will resonate with other moms.