Not too long ago, I took my girls into the city for the day. We were so busy having fun that we went a bit past lunchtime. My oldest and I were running across the street together holding hands when my foot caught on my pants and I tripped. I fell and took us both down in the middle of the street. My poor baby had two skinned knees. She is a rather intense child, who feels things very strongly, so her screams of pain were likely heard all the way down 72nd street. When we got to the restaurant I held her and soothed her. We applied Band-Aids and ice and chocolate was offered. She remained upset for a solid thirty minutes. Why did you wear those pants, you shouldn’t have ran, etc. she said to me. As if I didn’t feel badly enough.
After about twenty minutes of trying to calm her, I went to the dark place, the one that we mothers are all familiar with. I began internally questioning my judgment and very ability to mother. There was an older women sitting diagonally behind us and I noticed her watching and smiling a warm, understanding smile. The compassion that I felt from just her smile kept me from crying along with my daughter. When she got up to leave, she came over to me, put a hand on my shoulder, looked me in the eye and said, “you are a good mother.” It wasn’t just those powerful words that I needed to hear, it was the way in which they were said. This woman really said all she needed to say with her eyes. It was as if she knew. She knew how hard I try to help this child of mine and how defeated I sometimes feel when I can’t make her happy. This was a special moment along my journey through motherhood that will remain with me.
I often think about this moment in relation to my work with new mothers. A new mother is at her most vulnerable and she is unsure of everything she is doing. Because there is so much judgment and pressure coming from all around her, she doesn’t know to follow her instincts. She does not know that her instincts are always right. How could she? Many new mothers are not experiencing the warm, understanding compassion that they need to receive to grow and become confident in their new role. The experience I had with the woman at the restaurant was not one I had ever really experienced from another woman during my time as a mother. In fact, I remember way more disapproving looks and statements from women during my seven years as a mother. Why are mothers so hard on other mothers? Where is the compassion? No matter what age your baby is, newborn or eighteen, you deserve to hear “you are a good mother.”
Tell another mother today...and tell yourself!