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To the mother with a screaming child in public

I was catching up with a good girl friend over breakfast and was engrossed in conversation. I finally realized an upset toddler and a mother who was fighting a battle at the same table she imagined she would enjoy some pancakes.

Mama gave in. And it couldn’t have been a great feeling. She couldn’t calm her child, so she hurriedly scooped her up, slung her purse onto her free shoulder and marched out of the restaurant, head down.

I had no words at the moment and all I could do was look in disbelief. But, I wish I did have the words. I wish I could have stopped her. I wish I could have reassured her. She did nothing wrong. Her child did anything wrong. Her baby girl was simply doing what young children do—expressing herself the only way she knew how. Adults do it, too—get upset, get loud, and take frustrations out on those closest to us.

We shouldn’t feel guilty for showing anger, or feeling angry. It’s natural.

And somehow, it’s more acceptable for us to give moms of loud, cranky children the side eye instead of lending compassion.

It’s rare for mothers to find time to leave the house to enjoy a meal, and more often than not, we have a tiny human companion.

I wish I would have spoken up. And pre-COVID, I probably would have invited her to join our table. It was the perfect moment to be all “Sister Is Fine” but as emotions were heightened in that particular moment, I had to refrain from interjecting myself into the situation.

I would love to see the day where mothers are embraced in public the way dads are when they are seen with kids. Dads are heroes and I can’t help but think that if a dad had been in the restaurant this morning, so many people would have run to the rescue.

I did watch the reaction of the staff and was disappointed in their lack of concern. Our waitress, who would have been helping this mom as well, didn’t bat an eye. She actually stood not even three feet away and watched the entire ordeal. She watched this woman walk out.

I am frustrated by the insensitivity we currently have towards mamas.

I am frustrated that many mamas feel abandoned more than they feel supported.

I am frustrated that this is normal and accepted.

To the mother with a screaming child in public,

I see you. More than that, I know exactly how you felt in that moment. I was just there two weeks ago. I want you to know that you are a good mother. I saw you being as patient as possible before deciding to leave. I saw you trying to calm your daughter with ease. I am so sorry if you felt alone in that moment. And I am sorry I didn’t stop you and lend you any type of comfort or encouraging words. I hope you rest tonight. And I hope you wake up in the morning with a renewed sense of self-worth. As a mother, I can say you’re not alone. You are not the first woman to deal with a displeased child and you won’t be the last. Lastly, I would hope that you never feel as powerless as you probably did this morning. Being in a place of vulnerability does not diminish your value as a woman or your worth as a mother. You are human and despite what some people may think, you had a human experience.

(I do hope that this post finds that mother. It’s a stretch, but I know how social media works these days. So, I ask that you share this post in hopes that it reaches this mom. Location: Kerbey Lane Cafe in Pflugerville, Texas (right outside of Austin). December 7, 2021. Mom has fair skin and dark hair. Child was 3-4. Please send me a IG DM at @sisterisfine if this is you!)

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