To the People Who Judge the Parents of Unruly Children
To the people who stare and judge the parent of an unruly child:
It’s ok. We forgive you. Because either you forgot what it was like to have a young child, or you have never had one. You may not remember or know what it’s like to plan outings and trips based on a child’s feeding schedules; to pile every possible baby equipment known to man for a mere hour drive to see grandparents and great aunts.
Maybe you’ve forgotten, or have not yet had the pleasure to realize, that we as parents are doing the best we can for our children. So when our little one decides to have an outburst in the middle of the store, we’re not doing it to intentionally disrupt your quiet shopping. And trust us when we say, we don’t push our strollers slowly to annoy you, but the 20 pound weight that currently occupies it can only go so fast. When we’re out for a walk, we don’t expect you to carve a separate path for us on the sidewalk, but your kindness in sharing the little space would be very much appreciated.
So, we’ll forgive your judgmental glances at our child’s blood curdling wails. We’ll overlook your pitiless shakes of the head at our futile attempts to calm her. We’ll even ignore the quiet whispers to your companion regarding how, “such a small thing can make so much noise.” We’ll give you the benefit of the doubt, because surely, you just forgot, or don’t realize how hard it is to parent. But perhaps you know what it means to try your best and still come up empty handed; to surrender to the tantrum and just ride it out; to muster poise and patience in the midst of defeat.
At some point in your life, maybe you’ve been where we are now – when the simplest task somehow takes hours to do, when everything goes awry at the most inopportune moment. In the office, at school or at home, we know it’s happened to you too – when nothing goes your way, when all attempts are futile and pointless. Surely, your mind just lapsed and you forgot how to be sympathetic to those who are being challenged, to be understanding to those who are having an awful day.
Don’t worry, we won’t confront your unkind and callous stares, nor will we challenge your harsh judgment towards our distress. We have other things to worry about after all — like calming our screaming child and vanquishing the epic outburst currently in our hands.
Contrary to your assumptions about our parenting skills, we’re more than capable. With our endless string of patience we’ll get through this, we’ll survive. It’s what we do. In the face of adversity we parents just trudge along bursting out of the tunnel stronger and wiser for it.
Instead, we’ll smile knowing we’re trying our best, knowing that whatever we’re doing (though it may not seem like it to you) is enough. It’ll get better, eventually, and our strength in knowing it’s all worth it will push us through.
I just hope when you find yourself in a bind like we do at time, someone treats you in the same manner that you’ve acted. Maybe then, you’ll have more empathy; maybe then you’ll be more inclined to understand our struggle, and perhaps your memory will finally come back to you.
From the parent of a (sometimes) unruly child.
Maria is a mother, a wife, and a writer. She’s an avid collector of life’s little and big moments and enjoys chronicling her first time parenting adventures on her blog Collecting Moments. She loves Nutella and all things purple. Someday, she hopes to be able to sleep-in past 8 am on a Saturday. You can also find her on Twitter and Instagram.