Three Moms at the Park

Mom #1 is sitting far away with her partner and two kids. Mom #2 is walking by me, Mom #3.

Child of Mom #1, shouting: Mom, mom, mom, mom!

Mom #1 is talking to her partner and not answering the child.

Mom #2 (not in earshot of one, but very close to me): Sheesh! Pay attention to your kid!

Me: I think the needs of kids outstrip anyone’s ability to pay attention all the time.

[Mom #1 has acknowledged her daughter and they're talking.]

Mom #2, to me directly: Well, then, they should stop having them.

Me: It’s hard to know that until after the kids are already there though.

Mom #2: Well, I have four kids, and I give them all equal attention.

Me: You’re a braver mom than me! I only have two, and I can barely keep up with them.

I’m not sure why I felt I needed to defend Mom #1. Probably because I know that feeling of irritated fatigue that the multiple cries of “Mom!” can induce. But I also well know the judgment of Mom #2, and work hard to move beyond it, which is why I tried to nudge her toward empathy.

I’ve written this more than once, and I don’t mean to be a broken record, or up on a soap box. I write this mostly as a reminder to myself, since I can be incredibly snobby and judgmental (just ask my family):

Moms don’t need judgment. They need help. Polite smiles aren’t enough. If I see a mom having a tough time with a kid, I try to quell the judgment in my head, and offer help instead. I at least tell her that I know what she’s going through.

2 Responses to “Three Moms at the Park”

  1. Jane Plane Says:

    The thing that’s annoying about Mom #2 is that she’s couching her own irritation at hearing a kid yell unanswered into a commentary on someone else’s mothering skills. Anyone with one kid, much less four, knows it’s impossible (and not even a worthy goal) to instantly respond to every “MOM!”

    It’s not bad mothering to not immediately answer one’s kid, although it may be semi-impolite to let one’s kid shriek ceaselessly at the playground.

  2. girldetective Says:

    When Drake really got into the loud, insistent “mommommommommom” habit, I tried to stem this by responding in a soft voice, “I only need one ‘mom’ to hear you.”

    Then on one of the zillion instances that I was distracted and didn’t respond immediately,, my husband G. Grod said, “That’s not true. You didn’t respond till something like the seventh ‘mom’.”

    I laughed. He was right. And I apologized to Drake. And I’ve tried (and often failed) to respond at the first ‘mom’. It’s funny to hear Drake admonish his littler brother, “Only one ‘mom’, Guppy!”