“Oh, forget it! Let’s just go home!” she said pushing the stroller of her crying baby towards the exit. Her toddler screamed behind her wanting to stay and play.
I could see the frustration on her face. The dark circles under her eyes and the twitching of her quivering lip as she fought back tears gave her the look we all know well: desperation. I don’t know how long she had been here at this indoor playground. Perhaps all morning long. Or maybe she just got here, too. Whatever it was, this mother was clearly done, even though her kids weren’t.
I watched her struggle. And juggle. She frantically struggled to put on her own and her toddler’s shoes, while juggling a sippy cup under her arm and rocking the stroller to and fro to keep the baby soothed. This mother’s eyes blinked quickly, and she was sniffling.
I wanted to tell her not to worry, that this was just one day. Just one moment. But she was swift to leave, avoiding eye contact with anyone who might judge her a mess. There were other parents happily watching their children play. Maybe she felt like those other parents had all earned gold stars for the day, and she hadn’t.
To the mom who walked out frustrated, we’ve all been there. Every single one of us. We’ve all had moments where we have had to just get up and leave a playground or an event because the pressure of the now was too much. The buildup of the day and perhaps a series of sleepless nights exhaust us. And we’re done, with feelings of guilt piling up. Guilt for spoiling our child’s fun, guilt for not keeping it together, guilt for not being Supermom.
But sometimes, you just need to round up the kids and leave. You leave because you don’t want to lose your composure. You don’t want to cry in public, giving onlookers visual proof that she can’t handle it. So you slip out as quickly as you can hoping no one will notice, and you weep in your car. (P.S., We’ve all done that, too.) We’ve all had a moment where we’ve cried in our cars with our children in the back wondering why Mommy is so quiet and doesn’t feel like talking. It may not happen often, but when it does, know that it’s okay.
To the mom who walked out frustrated, I wish I had told you this in person. Because you’re not alone, even though you probably feel very lonely right now. Most likely you are wondering if you’re doing this whole motherhood thing right. You wonder if you’ve got your act together and are making good choices. We know. We’ve all felt that, too. Mothers have incredible intuition. We can sense the pain of our sisters.
To the mom who walked out frustrated, this too shall pass. And I promise, these once in a while frustrating moments are just that: once in a while, and frustrating, and just moments. You don’t need to put a tally mark of this on your list of Mommy Failures even though you might feel like a failure right now. (P.S., Many of us do keep a mental list like this at some point.) But with time, the list goes away, and you learn to relax. You learn that it’s okay to round up your children and go home, because home is what you need.
And what you need matters, too.