Today we went to the Children’s Museum. It’s a fast paced place with lots of fun and mind forming activities for the kiddos to do. It’s one of those places where you look around and see a large portion of the parents looking like they’d quite like to bash their brains in, meanwhile the kids are having the time of their lives. One of those kind of places, you know the kind I mean.
Along with an overabundance of colors, lights, and other various stimuli, you can observe all different kinds of families, in all differing levels of disarray. There’s the families just arriving full of life and energy (they so clearly haven’t had their souls sucked from their bodies yet). And then you have the families that are only slightly in shambles; half of the family more than ready to leave and the other half oblivious to the slow mental death of its counterpart. The families leaving are always a favorite; the parents literally dragging a screaming child or two through the exit doors.
You get it. We’ve all been to places like this. Well, today as we were waiting in line to enter, the family ahead of us was struggling with one of their children. They had a son who was probably 5 or so and he was just really having a hard time. I noticed he was getting angry and suddenly he began hitting his grandma. She had been reaching into the stroller trying to assist him and he just snapped.
As she said something to him and he calmed down, I kind of rolled my eyes mildly annoyed at such a rude child but turned back to my own business. A minute or so later, I heard a shout and looked ahead of me to see this child out of his stroller and full on kicking and punching at his grandmother. Giving up, she finally stepped back and he flung himself on the floor right in front of my stroller and was rolling around screaming and flailing his arms.
As I watched the scene unfold before me, I thought to myself, “Wow, this kid has some serious discipline issues. What a brat! If he were my kid….” As the mom was attempting to forcibly pick her son up, suddenly she looked up at me and said “I’m sorry”. That was it. That’s all it took, for in that moment I became disarmed.
When she looked up at me, I realized I knew that look. I’ve had that look. Across her face flashed the stress, embarrassment and anger that she felt. And more than anything else, I realized that I was judging this mother. I have no idea what her situation was or is, but I was judging her for it nonetheless. My epiphany was that I found myself mom-shaming this mother.
How many times have I been in that same situation? How many times have we been out and my oldest had a meltdown? It’s easy for me to write off my own mishaps because as his mother I knew that my son had missed his nap or that he was over-hungry. Because I am his mother, I know that he has SPD and that he often has sensory meltdowns which are not behavioral. How many times have I been in this woman’s shoes and been angry, no furious, at all the people walking by and giving me looks of disgust, disdain or shame because I couldn’t “control” my child; people thinking I was a “bad” mom because they didn’t know the full story? As a deep sadness came over me, I realized I was no better than those who have judged me.
Now mamas, don’t get me wrong. We all know that there are truly “bratty” kids out there. However, we don’t always know the full story. We don’t know if the child has a mental and/or social disability. We don’t know if the child has just experienced a recent loss or how emotionally healthy they are. We don’t know if they have cancer or another physical ailment. We don’t know anything.
What I want to challenge you to do, as I challenge myself, is to say enough to the mom-shaming. We all know the term and although this is my first post on this topic, it won’t be my last. This is a very relevant issue in the parenting world right now. But I’ve had enough. And while I can’t put a stop to all of it, I can put a stop to my personal involvement in it. I refuse to mom-shame another mom. I am taking captive my thoughts and actions towards others.
It’s not my place to shame or judge. This helps no one and is not what God intends for us. What IS biblical is to lift one another up. Encourage one another. PRAY for one another. LOVE one another.
So the next time you see a mom with a child acting out in public, take captive your thoughts and actions (or reactions). Say a quick prayer for her and if she looks at you, give her a reassuring smile. We’ve all been there and wouldn’t it be helpful to know that we have understanding and loving mamas out there to encourage us, rather than judge us?
I refuse to be a part of the mom-shaming culture any longer and hereby vow to do my best to be uplifting and loving towards all other mamas. Won’t you join me?