Thursday, January 24, 2013

To the mother at Trader Joe's

To the mom behind me in the checkout line at Trader Joe's,

I'm going to start this off by saying, "You are a good mother."

I am also going to say, "You love your son."

The other day, you were behind me and the Herd in the checkout line. Cole was tired, grumpy and pacified with a lollipop. I noticed your youngest son is about the same age as Cole and looked like he was feeling the same way: tired and grumpy. He was letting everyone in the nearby area know this in his toddler way. I smiled at you and asked if it was nap time.

"No," you said with a tired half-smile, "he's always like this." Then you told me that you find it hard to love your son and that he doesn't talk much. I saw you nearly cry at this admission.

Had my Herd not been trying to escape and had it not been a busy time at the store, I would have dropped everything and hugged you. Not because I felt bad for you or because you are a bad mom (which you are not) but because I think you needed it. You looked tired, at your wits end and slightly mortified that you told a stranger this.

I think you needed to tell someone that.

It's okay. It will be okay.

Few people understand how demoralizing it is to be yelled at by a 2-3 year old (or any child, for that matter) all the time. I told you this, how my two youngest don't talk much and it is hard to live with a strong willed non-verbal child. Few people understand how hard it can be to be screamed at for hours on end because you cannot figure out what your child wants. It wasn't that long ago that every single morning George would scream and cry because... well, I have no idea why. I would offered him food, drink, toys, hugs, the words to possibly express what he needed. He just screamed. More than once, I did too.

It does not make you a bad mother to admit that you have been given an intense child who wears you out- physically and emotionally. It does not mean that you don't love him if you don't enjoy every moment of pareting him. It doesn't mean you hate your child if he has behaviors and moments you find annoyig. No, all these feelings make you normal, human.

I'm not being trite when I say, "It will be okay and it gets easier." I promise you, it does. If you think your son needs help, please contact the local birth to three program. Don't listen to the people that tell you he's just a late talker or that you are spoiling him so he doesn't need to talk. This is likely not the case. (Actually, I know the latter is not the case.) If he does not have special needs, he will grow and learn to adapt to this world. You will grow too and you will help him.

Please take care of yourself too. You deserve and needs time away. Find a care giver that you love and trust and go out, even if it is to just do the grocery shopping alone, grab a cup of coffee or sit in the car alone and scream. It is hard to take care of demanding little people in the best of circumstances. When the going gets tougher, it can be even tougher. You are worthy of a break.

Why am I airing your "dirty" laundry on my blog? Because as you are reading this, someone else is too. They are nodding in understanding. Maybe someone is crying because this post brings back memories and feelings of their own child's toddler years. Someone else is breathing a sigh of relief and saying, "I'm not alone?!"

I will say it now: You are not alone.

As I drove away, I realized I should have give you my business card and told you to e-mail me, I wanted you to know that a random stranger understands. I have been there, and survived.

You will too and it will be okay.

If you think your child has special needs, please contact your local birth to three program for a free evaluation. If you cannot find the number, contact your local public school or pediatrician.

While a variety of feelings towards your children are normal, please seek professional help if you experience signs of depression. There is help for you and medication you take that is safe for breastfeeding. If you feel like harming yourself or your children, please call 911.


  1. This is SUCH a lovely post. It actually spoke to me today, too. I dropped off Abbey at preschool this morning and confessed to one of her teachers that she has been really driving me crazy and just tiring me out with her tantrums and ugly language and not allowing me to HELP her.

    She all but hugged me and told me that I am not alone in this and that Abbey is doing well at school. She reminded me to be kind to MYSELF first and that will help in accepting Abbey's big emotions. It was so helpful, and this post was too.

    You're a lovely mama and a great person: your compassion and desire to HELP shines through in this post. Love it!

    1. Thank you Amy! It sounds like you have a reat preschool for Abbey!

  2. My husband and I had a tough weekend: I am frustrated with having a toddler who wants to speak but doesn't have the capacity to tell me what he wants me to know. The older boys at daycare are gun crazy and I think are also into pushing/bullying and his frustration is sometimes manifested with physical aggression. Last night though, I was watching "How I met your mother" (show date 1/14/2012 - Band of DJ? and Alyson Hannigan's character confesses that sometimes she just wants to sneak out in the middle of the night and leave it all behind her. It felt so good to know that my thoughts of escaping don't mean that I am a bad mother, just a normal mother. Thank you for this post and the encouragement for parents who are concerned to get help for their children early.

    1. Yeah, sometimes sneaking away sounds like a great idea!

  3. This is so wonderful to read. Thank you for sharing this story.