I was watching TV when I saw a new ad come on that began with a woman breastfeeding in public.
I was immediately intrigued as she smiled at the camera and said, "Oh hey! It's me, Mom. Out here in public! Catching some side-eye" — as an older couple walked by and gave her a glare — "first rule of parenthood: someone's always judging."
The commercial cut to another mom who had twins in a stroller holding bottles.
"Breastfeeding didn't work out," she said. "Guess what? World's still turning."
I smiled the whole time as each new scene depicted different ways mothers are judged: for working, for staying home, for wearing sweats all day and for bribing kids to clean the house. I had no idea what the commercial was for, but I was pretty surprised the final scene showed a mother holding a container of Yoplait yogurt, while her daughter held onto her leg and said, "Good old-fashioned Yoplait. It's not made with cage-free Norwegian hypno. And guess what? She loves it!" The commercial ends with the phrase, "Mom on!"
I think I re-watched that commercial five times. Each time I watched it I laughed even harder. It was just so relatableI can't count the number of times I've been in public with my kids and heard the phrase, "Wow, you've sure got your hands full!" Or, "Did you know your son is doing parkour off your shopping cart?" Or my favorite, "Four boys, huh? So are you going to try again for a girl?"
No. 1: Yep, I've got my hands full. Instead of staring, how about you chase down that orange that fell out of my bag and help me out to my car? No. 2: Yes, I know it looks like my son is on the verge of death hanging off my cart, but what you don't see is my other hand with a death grip on his underpants giving him a pretty solid atomic wedgie, aka safety restraint. No. 3: Please don't ask me about my intimate life. Even if you use the word "trying." (I am trying not to barf on your shoes.)
I hear so often other mothers lamenting about not feeling "good" enough. One of my good friends even broke down to me about wanting to stop breastfeeding because of how difficult it had been for her, but feeling like she just couldn't because she was afraid of being called a "quitter" or "giving up" or being "selfish."
I know most people mean well and aren't trying to offend when they offer advice or make a passing comment, which is why I mostly laugh it off and go about my day as usual. But sometimes those comments sting.
Sometimes, I want to grab that person that gives me the once-over in my sweats and dirty hair and say, "Do you know that my son was up all night crying? And then my other son woke up at 6 a.m. and wanted oatmeal but then as soon as it was ready he changed his mind and said he wanted Cheerios but we didn't_have_ Cheerios so we came here to the store with everyone crying because I just needed someone to be happy today and I didn't have time to shower?"
Or that mom that grabs her baby after my 2-year-old pushes her over and yells, "NO!" in his face — as I'm standing right there telling him the same thing — does she know I pray every single night for a solution to him hitting? And every time we go to a park or a pool or nursery or anywhere there will be kids I have a panic attack because I know my son might hurt someone and I have tried every tactic out there and I am hoping beyond hope it's just a weird phase that he will outgrow?
Since having kids I have been served the most heaping helping of humble pie, and I hope I give other moms as much understanding and support as I need from them. We are all in this together. Let's judge less and support more.
So many times after passing another mom with a tantrum-throwing toddler in tow I nod and say, "You got this!" Because encouraging comments like that have meant the world to me.
So, in case no one else has told you lately that you are an amazing person doing an amazing job, let me: You got this!