When you're a mom, it's really easy to get down on yourself. First of all, there's pregnancy; which irrevocably changes your body and your mind in ways that you never would have expected. No one can tell you what it will REALLY be like, they can only tell you what it was like for them - and I know from experience that pregnancies are vastly different from one to the next.
Then you've got the baby. It is so, SO easy to feel like you're doing everything wrong (don't even get me started on sleepless nights and possible post-partum depression). Once you've navigated the mine field that is getting this baby up and through toddler-hood, the little buggers go ahead and develop their own minds. Sometimes it's hard to remember that they're not sitting in the bathroom for 20 minutes unraveling the entire roll of toilet paper to make you angry - they're doing it to explore the world around them and learn. The things that we all KNOW are inappropriate are things that they must be told about.
It's amazing how a four year old can make you feel like the worst, most useless person in the world. They can also make you feel like super woman. I would almost liken it to an abusive relationship; one second they're yelling and throwing things at you and the next second they're cuddling up and telling you they love you. It's hard. All on it's own. One of the things that can make it even harder is having to put up with other people's judgement.
The other night, I was out walking at the track. (I sometimes do this, and will be doing it more often now that I have a bridesmaid's gown I have to still fit into in October - but I digress.) There was a bunch of people playing volleyball. I like it when this happens, because believe it or not, I find walking around in circles for an hour kinda boring. So - volleyball. These people were having a great time. Every time someone scored (? I'm not clear on volleyball terminology) there were high fives all around. When someone made a nice save, high five. When someone did a particularly nice serve, they actually broke out in song and there were hugs. Even when they missed a dig or just spaced and missed the ball altogether, high five. I've always thought that the victory dances and ass slaps were a little ridiculous, but maybe they really do serve a valuable purpose.
I couldn't help thinking, wouldn't it be great if other areas of life could be so non-judgementally encouraging? If I handled a situation on the playground with my daughter well, shouldn't someone high five me? When someone notices a particularly well behaved child in the grocery line up, maybe they should say a quick "well done!" to the mom. How about when a child is behaving atrociously, a nice "don't worry, you'll get 'em next time!"?
Being a mom is a hard job. It is. I know it's been said a million times, by a million people, but just like an unruly four year old, it seems like no one's really listening. So for all you people who glare at the parents of the child screaming in the grocery cart, or comment when a kid throws her food on the floor in a restaurant; maybe you should realise that we're doing our best. Maybe instead of judging us for when things are going badly, you should encourage us to get us through it and help us gain the confidence to parent our children properly, instead of just trying to get them to be quiet, so that we send them out into the world as confident, thoughtful people. And maybe, just maybe, if you ever find yourself in the same situation, you'll get the encouragement you need too.
(Although, I would prefer not to be slapped on the ass.)