to the mom with the screaming child at target

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in the tantrum trenches

This afternoon I had to make a Target run for toilet paper and other essentials. As I was leaving I hit up the Starbucks to grab a much needed caffeine fix. In front of me was a beautiful mother with 2 children. One looked to be around 7 and the other was a baby. Before I continue I must note this woman’s stoic bravery for stepping into this establishment with children. With baby on hip she reached down under her cart to retrieve her purse. I swear this was some crazy acrobatic move that you would only see at the circus. I was impressed. I ordered my coffee and moved out of line to wait for my elixir. While we waited she received a phone call from someone who I can only assume was her husband. As she attempted to have an adult conversation with the individual on the other end her children started to acting up. I overheard her quickly say, “Nevermind, bye.” She received her drink and I could hear her baby wailing off in the distance as they continued on with their day. The woman who was behind me in line looked at me and nervously laughed, “That was awkward wasn’t it?” I smiled and said, “Oh not at all. I am a mom and I totally get it.” I bid the woman farewell and as I left this mother stayed in my memory and on my heart all afternoon. I decided to write her (and all mother warriors) a letter….

To the woman with the screaming child at Target,

You have been on my heart. I too am a mother and the last time I took my daughter into Target with me she smacked a stranger’s ass. So I want you to know that I was encouraged by your presence this afternoon. I now know that I am not the only mom who walks into that store full of hope and leave feeling completely defeated. Sometimes as a mom I feel like people don’t really see me. They see my unruly child and swiftly make judgments about my parenting choices. Of course that is only my perception. So I want you to know that I see you. I see you dressed in your yoga pants and no make up and I want you to know that you are beautiful. I see you pick up your Venti Egg Nog frappuccino and I know from experience that you ordered that size because you have children that will undoubtedly ask for some and you will probably only enjoy 5 sips of it. I hear you on the phone with your husband and as quick as you answer you have to hang up. You are such a great wife for taking the call because you know your children are not the only humans that need you. I see you lovingly interact with your busy little girl while you quietly soothe your crying baby. You have the patience of Job. I watch as you hurry off all the while attempting not to make eye contact with another human as you pass by. I want you to know that I have been where you are. I have made that walk of shame too many times to count. You need to know that I do not judge you. I am in awe of you. You taught me a valuable lesson today. You reminded me that we are all doing the best we can and we all need a kind face smiling back at us. Just maybe we will look into that strangers eyes and see our beautiful reflection mirrored back to us. You reminded me that as moms we are our worst critic. We need to stop that. We are raising our children to be functioning humans in this world and that is no easy task. As I watched you with your babies I witnessed the pure grace and messiness that is motherhood. You also reminded me that there should never be any shame in being a mom and God forbid shame when our children (and they will) act like an untamed beast in public. Their breakdowns have nothing to do with how well we are parenting. In fact, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that their fits are proof of our unconditional love for them. They know that no matter how poorly they act we will get frustrated, but their is no tantrum that will change the love we have for them. I also am frightened of children who never throw fits in public from time to time. I end this letter thanking you. Thank you for reminding me of my humanness and that my struggles as a mom have no bearing on my capabilities. You are amazing and your children are so blessed that you are their mama. You are strong and brave. You are nurturing and patient. I saw myself in you today and what I saw was an extraordinary soul. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Our silent interaction today was anything but awkward. It was enlightening and empowering. Just thought you needed to know that.

Signed,

a fellow mom who has been known to hide in the dressing room at Target

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