Thursday, July 23

To the mother with the crying baby in the restaurant

For some reason, I seem to be unpopular about my choice to defend you but that's ok, nothing about my life is a popularity contest.

You're a good mother.  Have you heard that enough in the past 72 hours?  If not, I'm here to remind you. 
You're a good mother.
Dad, you're a good father.
You are both good parents and you have a beautiful child.
I can't imagine what that must have been like for you, and how much you probably needed to hear that right at that moment when your very worst nightmare as a parent came true.

Any parent with a toddler has been there.  You're just trying to get something to eat to enjoy yourself as a family, but maybe your child didn't sleep well the night before.  Maybe they are teething.  Maybe they are a child and maybe children don't know how to express their emotions except in fussing or crying.  Maybe none of those excuses matter and that your child was hungry and needed to eat.  Regardless, I understand because I have been there, even with our two daughters who are angels most of the time, it just takes that one time when it has just been a hard day for everyone to make you question everything and why you ever leave the house.

The back of your neck is sweating, you look around nervously because nothing that has worked before is working and you want to make sure you don't disturb other people around you.  You reach for your bag to take out the snacks and crayons but realize that you left them all at home.  On the verge of tears, you look desperately at your husband.  He is doing everything that he can as well.  Bouncing, singing, shushing.
You thought a diner would be a safe place to go, it has pancakes, children love pancakes! Where are the pancakes, you wonder nervously...

You are still on the verge of tears but you have to be the one that holds it together.  You are the adult and that is what adults are supposed to do, right?  You want to leave but need to wait for the waiter to come back around to tell them to cancel your order.  You can't find them and don't want them to think that you are leaving without paying.  Two more minutes you think, just two more.
As all of this nervousness is going around in your head and body, your child is feeling all of your same emotions, and probably is even more scared or worried, which only makes things worse.  You feel like everyone that looks at you is thinking what an awful parent that you are, how you can't control your child and how you should never leave the house.

You are a good parent.

Children are not meant to be controlled and they have bad days, just like adults do.  Getting out of the house is good.
Believe it or not, there was at least one other person in there that day that was looking at you and thinking what a beautiful family you are, and how they wish they could help and reassure you that it's ok, you're a good mother.  They probably have a story like this where they were at a restaurant when their child was having a hard time and someone who they thought was judging them came up to them and told them what a great job they were doing.  What a beautiful child they have.  And then everyone cried and talked about how they grow up way too fast.

That happened to me.  And I wish I was there to be that person for you.

The thing about being out in a public place at such a time is that you never win when you try to please those around you.  If you speak sternly to your child about misbehaving without raising your voice, then the people around you think you're a horrible parent for not being strict enough.  If you just try to calm them down with gentle parenting, then you're a horrible parent for not being stern enough.  If you're too stern and lose it a little, then you're a horrible parent for losing it.  If you leave, then you're another parent raising spoiled children.

The owner of that restaurant didn't try for a second to put herself in your shoes. To think a little outside of the box and to consider how much more effective some words of encouragement would have been for you.  But that's ok.

The greatest lessons that I have learned in my life have all come from our children.  The greatest one of all being forgiveness.  So I dare you to forgive her and do what she didn't do for you or your child.  Consider her.  Maybe she's always wished for a child but could never have one.  Maybe she has bad childhood memories and hearing your child crying brought them back.  Maybe she was just having a bad day.  Maybe none of these excuses matter and that she just needs to know that she is loved.

To the owner who screamed at a crying child, you are so loved. I hope that you hear that enough.

Here's to a world where we all treat each other with kindness and love.

"Be kind, always.  For everyone is fighting a hard battle." -Plato

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