I’m kind of a selfish person so I’ve been doing this thing for awhile where I hunt down moms with crying kids so I can tell them some version of the following:
“You are doing great. This parenting thing can be a total shit show but you’re killing it. Solidarity sister, we’ve all been there. Is there anything you need to get through this a little easier?”
Target, the park, the zoo, my radar is constantly on high alert for these poor souls. They always turn down the help (which I completely get but seriously lady I’m not going to walk off with your tantruming child….I have two of my own capable of throwing a fit of epic proportions and I don’t need or particularly want yours as well thankyouverymuch). Sometimes they give me stink eye to which I usually respond with a super awkward thumbs up and a quick retreat. But the vast majority of the time I get a thanks and what I like to imagine is a grateful smile.
Or maybe I just totally weird them out and they’re just humoring me in case I’m a danger to society…this is not out of the realm of possibility. The humoring part, not the me being a danger part.
Anyways I know this doesn’t seem like a particularly selfish act but I promise it is. Sure it looks pretty selfless, like by showing another mom some humanity and compassion I’m giving a giant middle finger to a world that seems hell bent on tearing people apart. But the reality is I’m just trying to build up some karma because I’m SO SICK of the eye rolls, the earsplitting TSKS and the passive aggressive stage whispers commenting on my general failures as a parent. And since we’re still in that stage of life where we’re facing years of potential tantrums, melt downs and fits I’m willing to do whatever I need to do to build up some good ju-ju.
Today I finally got to cash in.
My kids are taking week long swimming lessons and this morning Miles woke up warm and out of sorts. I sniffed his head and yep. He smelled like fever (don’t ask. I can smell it. I always can. Just like I can tell when my kid needs to poop by the color of the circles under her eyes. It’s my pooper power. Being a parent is really weird yo). Anyways it was low grade and he was perking up so I made a choice. Maddy was totally gung ho to swim so I figured I’d take her to lessons and let Miles skip his and chill out poolside with the tablet. It’s only a 35 minutes how bad can it be?
Bad. The answer is bad.
With 10 minutes left Miles climbed in my lap and proceeded to throw up. Profusely. All over me.
I had nothing. I’d only brought one towel for Maddy and I couldn’t move because DRENCHED. My dress was not only soaked and reeking but it was also now transparent. Our shit show was now also a peep show.
Miles was crying. I was beet red and on the verge of crying. I didn’t know what to do so I just held him and rocked him and hoped no one would notice that I wasn’t rocking him so much to comfort him as to use his body as a human shield to cover up my own personal, very smelly, wet t-shirt contest. Thank God for giant children. They cover more.
And here’s where the mom magic happened. A few averted their eyes and pretended not to notice (which I get. I do. You didn’t sign up to deal with other kids puke and I know a lot of people who can’t even handle their own vomit let alone a strangers). But one wonderful woman found a makeshift puke bucket for us. Another found the manager and got us paper towels. Someone else brought us a waste basket and together we cleaned up me (sort of) and Miles. If anyone was judging me they kept it to themselves. And as we were finally leaving in a soggy, smelly parade of shame, this angel of a woman stopped me to say exactly what I needed to hear.
“I had 11 kids. I’ve seen it all. Happens to everyone. You can never tell when it’s going to turn like that.” And with an approving nod and a sympathetic smile she wished us good luck.
So the moral of the story is this. Build yourself some karma and make another mom’s day. It doesn’t take much to just say a few kind things to someone who’s struggling. It may not change the fact that their child is screaming bloody murder or that they’re covered in bodily fluids but it can make them feel just a little less alone and that’s something.
Also consider carrying extra towels at all times.