The other morning on my way in to work I got stuck behind a school bus. While this can normally prove annoying in my 'hurry up to get nowhere fast' life, today I didn't seem to mind. I wasn't running late, the sun was shining, and it was a gorgeous morning. So while I was sitting behind this bus with its flashing red lights telling me to slow down once in a while, I looked over and spotted a mother (probably my age or slightly younger) and her small boy (I'm guessing 5 years old) standing on the side of the road waiting for the bus doors to swallow up her son and throw him head first into the real world.
I quietly (yup, turned the radio off) watched her let go of his hand as he made his way onto the bus. I watched her watch him intently. And I knew immediately when he spotted her watching him because I saw a genuine smile spread across her face and then I watched her frantically wave at him, silently encouraging him that all would be well...for today at least. I then watched her hands fall just as quickly to her side and the smile drop off her face as she turned to face her own world.
This 2 minute time out at the start of my day made me realize that even though I don't know this woman and maybe I don't live the same lifestyle as her (whether that be good or bad) or live in the same neighbourhood or have the same problems, we do have one thing in common. We are moms just trying to make it through the day for the sake of our kids; be good role models, love them with our whole heart, and encourage them to grow and become independant. So while we don't have much in common (or maybe we do), we have that. And that's the one thing that ties all of us moms together.
So why are we so harsh and judgmental with other mothers? We need to stop the judgment. We all struggle. Stay at home moms are no better than working moms. Moms who breast feed their kids are not better at this or care more than moms who bottle feed. Oh you use cloth diapers? Good for you, I think you're brave. But don't judge me because I found ease and convenience in disposables. Every toy my children owned wasn't made of bamboo or hemp. I'm not a bad mom because of this and it doesn't mean I don't care about the world I'm leaving to my children. I didn't make my own babyfood even though I really wished I'd had the time, but don't judge me because you did. My kids still had nourishment. I probably got more sleep than you because I didn't share my bed with my kid thus I didn't have their itty, bitty, little feet jammed into my back all night but that doesn't make me a better or worse mother than you because you believe in the 'family bed'. What's that? That mother chews her baby's food for him? What a nutjob. Maybe he has a reflux disorder or maybe he just doesn't care and it's not hurting him or our own children so how is it any business of ours? I could go on. I feel like the minute we have our own children it's not really about offering advice and support (we cloak it with 'meaning well') it's more about judgement. Who's better at this game? Me? Her?
I watched that woman today. She didn't know I was watching her. She wasn't putting on airs for me. I watched her and I knew how she felt. I knew why she was smiling and waving. We were united, in a sense, for a very fleeting moment in time. I don't know her story, but I do know this: She's a mom just like me. And while I didn't see it in that moment I know she has difficult periods where she doubts her abilities. She has days where she probably wishes she wasn't a mom. She is sick with worry about what this world could do to her precious baby. She has nights where she gets no sleep because her son was up sick with a fever all night and she doesn't need other mothers, who themselves aren't perfect, judging her because she's got a short fuse the next morning. She judges herself enough. We all do.
Today I smiled at that lady, even though she didn't see me, because she did good. She silently gave her son the push he needed to start his day off positively and she gave another mother a moment of pause, to reflect on what it is that we mothers do each and every day and the realization that we should stand united, not divided. That kid took a big step when he got on that bus today, for all us.