Monday, June 8, 2015

An open letter to all the other mums


Dear other mums,

Yes I am the mother of that child.

The child who can be playing happily one minute then having a major meltdown the next. The child who kicks and screams and throws herself around to get her point across when she's frustrated. The same child who doesn't care that she's in a public place when she's having said meltdown. The same child who you, unfortunately, look upon with shock, horror and dismay.

Yes she does all of these things and yes you did just see them, but there are so many things you don't.

Yes you are seeing a very strong child battling with her mum with every ounce of her being, but what you forget in that moment is just how tiny she really is. She's not even 2yrs old. She may be physically strong, but in many ways she's still so so little so please don't expect her to be able to act beyond her years. 

Yes you see me flustered and struggling to control her, and to you that may look like I have no control, but what you don't know is how much I'm actually in control. It takes an immense amount of mental control to zone out everything around me and focus purely on my daughter. To zone out all the judging eyes I can feel piercing into me from all angles. To zone out the sounds of gasps and whispering. To push aside my own feelings {of embarrassment} and focus entirely on hers. It takes an exorbitant amount of self control. So while she may be losing it, I most certainly am not. 

Yes she may be interrupting your nice day out with her loud screaming, but please know she's not interrupting you on purpose. In fact the last thing she has on her mind is the people surrounding her. In those short, albeit intense, moments when she's having a meltdown there's so much going on in her mind that she's no longer aware of her surroundings or the people in them. Her feelings are so intense and she hasn't yet learnt what they mean or how to process them. So she expresses them in the only way she knows how. She doesn't have the capacity to understand sadness or disappointment so she gets frustrated.

Yes I am the mother of that child and I'm glad she's mine.

I apologise for the screaming and the kicking and the interruption to your day. 

What I don't apologise for is having a strong willed daughter who feels safe enough to express herself. While it may seem like an inconvenience now, someday that self confidence and conviction will serve her well. 

Yes I am the mother of that child and yes you see her at her worst, but what you don't see is when she's at her best - which is the other 95% of our day. You're only seeing a tiny snapshot.

So I ask you, if you happen to see me when she's at her worst please simply give me an empathetic smile, like I would to you. Please don't stand and stare at us. Please don't say nasty things about her or me. Please don't be so quick to judge. Because, as we both know, our children aren't at their best all the time and at some point you too will be the mother of that child.

We're all navigating this parenting journey one day at a time and we're all doing the best for our babies, so lets be a little kinder to each other.

Toni x

55 comments:

  1. Parenting is so hard. I always give the mum with a melting down kid a smile of 'you're doing a great job'.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I do this too. There is nothing worse that copping a judgmental glare from someone who doesn't understand. We're all muddling and fumbling our way through parenthood as best we can. #nojudgmenthere x

      Delete
  2. It sounds to me that you've experienced some unfair judgement and comments when out and about with your girl Toni? Oh dear - reading through this bought back some memories. It's usually older adults who have *forgotten* what it's like to have little ones but not always! I remember once going to the shops with my three when they were all very little. The youngest was a baby so my twin boys would have been around 2.5-3yrs of age. We were passing a very obese man who was with a women. One of my boys said to me in a loud voice "Mum why is that man so fat?" The lady heard him and took offence and then proceeded to yell at me telling me what rude, revolting children I had. I was mortified. They were words of observation from an innocent small child. Just like as you explained - tantrums are a natural part of childhood as they learn to express themselves and test their boundaries. I agree - let's all be much kinder to each other!! xo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kids are so innocent. They don't even understand how to be rude at such a young age. I'm sure we'll get in trouble with incidents like that too because bub already rolls her eyes at people at the shops or gives them dirty looks after looking them up and down. I think the problem is people expect kids to act with an adult mindset long before they've actually learnt the skills.

      Delete
  3. Oops, you've had some public criticism somewhere. Just ignore! To be honest, I have only ever experienced rudeness from one old woman in all my time with six. It was waiting in a supermarket queue after school and it was directed at the school-aged ones. My toddlers have never really thrown a public turn, they've always saved that for home!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. She only usually has a meltdown when we go to leave somewhere because she never wants to leave lol. Other than that she's pretty good, but she certainly knows how to get her point across when she's having a meltdown. I just get over the stares and the judgement. I always give others an empathetic smile so I don't see why others can't do that for me.

      Delete
  4. Beautifully written post Toni. Totally agree re: "self confidence and conviction" - two very important qualities well worth nurturing x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep there's part of me that high fives myself that I have a daughter who is so strong willed. I know she's going to be a very strong woman who won't take crap from people in the future {so hopefully she won't make the mistakes I did in the beginning}.

      Delete
  5. Great post Toni. And so very true. All parents get to have that child sometimes. We can't expect them to express themselves Wel if they haven't yet learned how x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exactly, I think people just forget how young they are. You can't expect someone who's less than 2yrs old to act like an adult and understand all their emotions + acceptable social behaviours.

      Delete
  6. I have had that child too....the full lay down in the middle of Aldi meltdowns! Just hold your head high and ignore everyone else...!!
    #TeamMM

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh yes we have the full lay down kicking and screaming, she certainly knows how to get her point across.

      Delete
  7. Great post Toni. So many truths in there. This parenting gig can be so hard and strangers so unkind with unleashing their judgement within a short moment. People really do expect children to behave beyond their years I feel and quickly they can forget how difficult parenting is.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The thing that gets me is when parents of other young children are judging, like hello has your child seriously never thrown a tantrum?! Its so difficult and I don't see why we need to make it harder for others. Anyway I've got it out of my system now *steps back off soapbox*

      Delete
  8. Massive hugs. No matter what stage you are at, parenting is one tough gig.

    I missed all this with my three under three, for the life of me I'm not sure why, possibly because with the youngest 10 weeks early we didn't really venture out much in that first year and we set our house up like a play group.

    My sister on the other hand had an awful time, made worse by the fact her children were all big for their ages making their behaviour seem less age appropriate which is when everyone seems to raise their eyebrows even more.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yea bub is getting quite tall so she definitely looks older than 2 already so maybe that's adding to why people are so judgy. I'm thinking when I have more than one I'll be a lot more housebound than I am now.

      Delete
  9. I'm also the mother of "that child" although he is now 11! The judging is hard to ignore but you have to just keep concentrating on your child and do what you can to make them feel safe and protected. Meltdowns are hard to deal with, whatever the age or situation. I'm so glad you can see them for what they are with your little girl - moments of trying to find her place and trying to make sense of the world around her.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wish more people could see them for what they are instead of just thinking kids are being deliberately vindictive or manipulative. I imagine you've experienced a lot more judgement than me with asd kids as I'm sure my brother and sister in law will experience with my niece too. Its not really fair, but I guess we just keep doing what we're doing.

      Delete
  10. Now that I'm on No.3 I barely take notice of the incredulous stares from parents of 'parent' children - water off a duck's back Toni - you are doing a fab job!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yea I think with time {and more kids} it'll get easier to deal with. I'm good at ignoring it at the time, but I still take it way too personally and get upset by it after.

      Delete
  11. I love this Toni. We are all the parent of that child at some time or other! Some parents like to keep that behaviour a secret or just have forgotten how hard parenting was when they are that little. I call it old fart syndrome or stuck up mole-icity. Keep on doing the best job for both of you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha old fart syndrome lol I like that.

      Delete
  12. I *was* the mother of that child - Miss 18 was the queen of tanties. The only thing I could do was pick her up bodily (while she was kicking, thrashing and screaming), carry her to the car, force her down into the car seat and strap her in, and drive home. The screaming would settle to sobs (both hers and mine!) to quiet usually by the time we get home. Or if we were home, I would put her in her room and would have to hold the door shut til she calmed down. I'm sure the neighbours thought I was killing her. As you said, she was delightful the rest of the time and has turned out to be a delight as an adult - though she is still just as strong willed! Stick to your guns, you are doing the right thing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have no doubt she's going to be as strong willed as an adult too {although that may prove more problematic when puberty hits!}. I swear other parents think I'm kidnapping her sometimes when I'm carrying her to the car and she's acting like I'm abducting her, it doesn't help that she has blonde hair and doesn't look like me!

      Delete
  13. I am so sympathetic to parents in public who are dealing with tantrums. All eyes are on you and you need to zone out, it's hard, but it's what you do. Sounds like you are doing just fine, like the rest of us mere mortals.To those who stand by and judge, poo to you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes poo to them. Sometimes I find trying to ignore the eyes looking at me harder than trying to deal with bub to be honest.

      Delete
  14. I'm mother of "that child" and she's now almost 4! Parenting is hard work :) This mum to another strong willed "spirited" child salutes you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Strong willed kids are fun aren't they?! But so worth it x

      Delete
  15. Yep, I remember going through that with Elliott when he was that age and at first hated the stares etc. But as it went on I began to focus my efforts on Elliott and honestly couldn't give a stuff about other people.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I always focus on her, but knowing they're all staring at me from behind makes it so much more stressful.

      Delete
  16. After doing this parenting gig for nearly 6 and a half years i do not give a stuff about what anyone thinks !
    Bugger the judgy judgy look down your nosw at you people because they don't know jack!
    I had a screaming chuck stuff out of the trolley delight today while shopping! My fault because we went at nearly lunch and nap time and i did not blink as i walked around getting my groceries!
    Keep up the great work Toni, those strong willed kids are hard work on a good day but so very worth it!
    Ps my post today was about certain morons i have the displeasure of knowing! I haven't been on any kind of social media much lately so you haven't missed anything!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yea I just need to work on ignoring them a lot better than I do. I don't acknowledge them at the moment but it till gets to me on the inside x

      Delete
  17. I hate judgy parents who have no clue about your kid and base everything on the brief glimpse they get. Bugger em!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Oh, we have the same daughter! Mine is nearly three now but she is strong willed and sometimes unpredictable and often loud and stroppy. But I take heart in knowing that whatever this gorgeous little monster wants in life, she will probably make happen for herself. And I do my best to contain her in public but sometimes I don't succeed. I figure if that's the worst thing that happens in someone else's day, they are doing okay. x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep I have no doubt they'll get what they want in life if they're this strong willed at such a young age. I never looked at it that way, I guess it isn't that bad if its the worse thing that happens in their day!

      Delete
  19. I'm sorry that you have experienced judgement especially from other mothers. I'm sure no child, ever, has not had a meltdown so it's sad that people can't be kind and compassionate isn't it. Anyway karma!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exactly, as if their kids are perfect all the time. Karma is wonderful isnt it?!

      Delete
  20. I always thought the rule was 'give a smile and be grateful it isn't your turn this time'...everyone has it happen!

    ReplyDelete
  21. I am one of 5 and I was the hardest child for my mum. Never have I felt so bad for my behaviour until I gave birth. But mum said I was strong snd confident and she always knew I would be ok

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was a pretty easy child so its a bit of a wake up having such a strong willed independent child, but at the same time I like it because I can see she'll have these traits as an adult :)

      Delete
  22. "What I don't apologise for is having a strong willed daughter who feels safe enough to express herself. While it may seem like an inconvenience now, someday that self confidence and conviction will serve her well" - what a beautiful and perfect approach; your daughter is so blessed that you've got her back! I alwas give the empathetic smile because I know the feeling - Mr 3 can be all smiles and hugs and then tears and screams the next. Gotta love them and their innocence.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll always have her back :)
      I love their innocence, its their best feature. They let us see the world through different eyes, without the judgement, without a care. They're perfect little people really {even when they're not}.

      Delete
  23. A beautiful and much needed letter - can I borrow it please?! I am the mother of "that" child too. She is spirited and determined beyond belief and sometimes I just want to walk away and huddle in the corner. But - I try to remember and focus on the strength of these characteristics - she is strong, she won't let anyone push her around, she can say "no" with force! Thanks for the reminder. xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes you can definitely borrow it Karen :)

      Delete
  24. I always give the empathetic smile because I also see the judges and the way they stare. As if that is going to help anyone! I have a child with additional needs but not enough for tanties .... yet. I hope I get the empathetic smile when she starts :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hopefully you'll just the smiles :)

      Delete
  25. Oh I remember meltdowns like the one you described. My eldest must have been 2-2.5, we were looking at the toddler girls clothes in Myer, which happened to have toys right near the clothes. When I told her she couldn't go looking at the toys on her own, she had a major meltdown right in the middle of Myer, kicking & screaming while laying on the floor! At the time I was hoping the floor would swallow me up. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep I've felt like that many times :)

      Delete
  26. You are an awesome mum Toni and any one that thinks otherwise because of a five minute observation where your daughter is being just like any other her age.. well they can rack off. Keep on rocking hun, your daughter is lucky to have you on her side xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. She had an epic meltdown today and I got quite a few judging stares and whispers behind my back, but surprisingly I didn't lose it and actually didn't care less what the other people thought for once.

      Delete
  27. I really don't get posts like this that immediately set mothers against each other. Why the adversarial tone? Do you think you may be the one on the offensive here? It's just that I'm not sure why you assume that people are looking down on you because your child is having a meltdown. You're asking people not to judge you yet you are doing exactly that to them.

    And I don't get that. And I'm not having a go at you. I see a lot of posts similar to this on other mummy blogs. Perhaps it's the trend to feel hard done by but I admit that sometimes I think hey, cut people some slack.

    Have you been in the other person's shoes? The person who witnesses a meltdown? I think not. Because if you had, you'd know that it's an automatic response to stand open mouthed, frozen, not knowing what to do, your body rigid with indecision. You want to help but don't want to be seen to be interfering. You want to give words of encouragement or give a little smile of reassurance but don't want to come across as patronizing or, dare I say it, judgemental.

    As a mother of a child with autism who can melt down with the best of them, I've not experienced the hostility you depict in your post. Yes, sometimes I do have to check myself - did I really see that sneer or did I imagine it because I'm feeling VERY self conscious right now? All in all, I find other parents to be very supportive. Because, from the outside, a meltdown looks like any other child completely losing it for whatever reason - and every parent has had that at one time or another.

    Perhaps a recheck of your attitude is in order.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My daughter has sensory issues which is why she has such huge meltdowns because she gets overwhelmed so easily + normal 2yr old tantrums thrown into the mix so I am often on the receiving end of judgement from other mums when out. This post is not meant to be judgemental towards them but more to inform them of what's going on during the situation that they may not understand at that point in time. Of course if people see a screaming child throwing themselves around they are going to stand and stare and judge and most likely assume she's a bad child or I'm a bad mother so this post was more to inform them of all the things going on in that moment that they most likely aren't "seeing".

      The post is a response to numerous situations I have been in. My aim is not to set parents against each other but rather to encourage other parents to be more supportive of each other because we do all know what its like to be the one with a child having a meltdown hence why I think people should be more empathetic instead of looking down on others. I have experienced other mother's being supportive just like you, but unfortunately I receive judgement more often than support.

      I have been on the other end numerous times and I always give an empathetic smile to other mums or offer some empathetic words {as I stated at the end of the post}.

      Delete