A few days ago a friend and I were at the pool with the girls when we noticed a mom struggling with her daughter. The girl was 4+ and had the same name as C. so EVERY TIME she said her name, of course, I couldn’t help but whip my head around like someone was on fire.
The mom was desperately trying to get her daughter out of the pool. She had used up all the tools in her proverbial “mom bag”. She had yelled at her, pulled her out, threatened her and – the little girl was unfazed. The older C. was obstinately playing in the pool and wasn’t going anywhere, no matter what her mother said. In fact, every time her mother lunged at her to grab her, the little girl giggled and ran to the other side of the pool.
Pool-mom: “If you don’t get out in one minute, no books tonight.” Giggles. “If you don’t get out right now, I’m GOING TO TELL YOUR FATHER.” Giggles, swim, swim. “If you don’t get out right this second we are NEVER COMING BACK TO THIS POOL EVER AGAIN.” Giggles, giggles, swim, swim.
Ugh. My heart ached for this mother. I’ve been there. I feel you. I SEE you. I KNOW you. I AM you.
C. and A. are both children who – at one age or another – would have run off with a perfectly good stranger if it meant that they could have stayed at the playground for a few more minutes. Threats bounced right off of them. For C. they still have no effect. Most times I have to pick her up, throw her over my shoulder kicking and screaming as we leave the playground, only to push her into her car-seat so she doesn’t squirm out and try to run back to the playground.
This is EXHAUSTING and embarrassing. Some days I just want to give up; give in. Throw everything into one huge crap pile and say “YOU WIN!” Stay in the pool, for all I care! I’m going home to have a margarita and watch a movie.
So pool-mom I didn’t say anything to you that day, but I looked at you with sympathetic eyes (I tried to make them as sympathetic as possible) as if to say, I KNOW you. We have BEEN there. Us parents have ALL been there and felt judged as a bad parent and a terrible person.
And as we walked away from the pool that day, my friend said: “Did you see that mom? She didn’t have control of that little girl at all. And that little girl was older than your kids.” Her judgement of the pool-mom sat on me like a wet blanket. My friend had forgotten what it was like to be pool-mom.
Don’t get me wrong, my friend is AWESOME. She is also like majority of people out there that often find it too easy to cast judgement.
I do it too. I judge the way people look. The way they treat their bodies. The choices they make, and sometimes even the things they say. WE ALL play judge and jury.
But as a parent, who has struggled with managing my own insecurities about being good enough for my kids, I impeach us to put down our gavels and exercise bit more empathy. That mom who can’t stop her kid from screaming in the airplane? Offer her some help. The dad who can’t get his kids to be quiet at dinner? Offer him a smile. Remember how hard it is to raise kids to be adults with value; and how important it is too.
It’s so easy to judge. Our capacity to offer up compassion for other people is bound only by our imagination to realize that we are all trying our best and we have all been there, in one form or another.
What do you think? I’d love to hear your comments below.