She Was Pushing The Stroller And Crying

03.3.10


This morning I brought Jane to the doctor, she has a sore throat. As we were waiting for the doctor to come in the room, I was on the telephone with another mom who is an independent contractor. She was saying how she felt like a bad mom when her kids get sick and she can’t take the day off. Well, it’s just a feeling. Since when do we cater to feelings?

The really bad moms seldom doubt their actions.

My friends and I, on the other hand, are swimming in self doubt. That’s why we connect online and in person to share struggles and strategies, we educate ourselves, we keep up on the latest research and we take that mixture of academia and practical experience, twirl it around and the result is homespun wisdom. Though mothering can be challenging, most often it’s wonderful, and though it can be isolating, we still have that isolation in common.

As I was leaving the pediatrician with my daughter a mother was walking in. She was pushing her stroller, and crying. The baby was in the infant seat, a pink blanket draped over the whole thing, so I couldn’t see. Did her daughter have a birth defect? Was she terribly ill? Well, she couldn’t be terribly acutely ill or they’d be in the hospital, right? Maybe the baby was up crying all night, and now Mom was going to cry all day? I’ve certainly lived through that scenario.Maybe her baby needed surgery. Handing your child to the anesthesiologist will shave a few years off your life.

What makes a thirty something year old woman walk down public hallways crying?

Motherhood.

Really, we do our best to do this well. Most often we’re pretty darn good at it, and other days we walk around crying in public.

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31 responses to “She Was Pushing The Stroller And Crying”

  1. I can relate all too well to the self-doubt (it’s near constant for me) and crying in public (and private), because of a rough day with my toddler. It’s sorta a bummer that it really never goes away, but it makes me feel better that it’s not just me who questions if what I am doing/saying/feeding/etc. is the best for my son.

  2. I have soooo been there! If a mom hasn’t, I want the name of the vitamins or meds she is on :) I think as moms, we just need to realize it’s OK to be vulnerable and let others see that. While we may appear to have super human powers at time, we are only human. The more others see that it’s ok, the less stress we will put on ourselves (I’m totally talking to myself on that one!).

    And, ditto on handing your precious child over to be put under. I aged several years in 8 hours.

  3. Jack says:

    The really bad moms seldom doubt their actions.

    That is parenting in general. The boys and I have shared notes on more than one occasion in which we wondered what the hell we were doing. Can’t count the number of times I have wondered if I was doing the right thing for my kids.

    A lot of parenting is by feel and intuition. My kids are different. I do my best to treat them the same, but they respond differently. What works for one doesn’t always work for the other. It is a constant juggling act.

    I know how to deal with 8 year old boys. I am an expert at that now. Unfortunately my son is 9 now so I am back at square one. It is one hell of a ride, but ever so much fun, when I am not screaming.

  4. Mrs Pop says:

    You hit it. Totally. I’m always doubting or feeling guilty about something.

  5. Caroline says:

    I doubt everything, except the fact that I don’t know anything, really.

  6. KYouell says:

    I stupidly thought that when my daughter was born I would be on easy street. I had gotten my son who has Down syndrome through 2 open heart surgeries and 2 heart catheterizations (worse than the surgeries for us) and she had been prenatally checked for those probs so I knew that she was going to be a breeze. Ha! I often think now, almost 3 years later, that I would have been better off if God had given me a second child with Down syndrome because that’s the kind of kid I learned to parent. My oh-too-typical daughter is a whole different kind of critter to parent! So, almost 5 years after I became a mom I still feel like a newbie and am often crying while pushing my double stroller around.

    You didn’t say if you reached out to her or even made a connection with your eyes. I hope so. I sure appreciate it when people make some kind of contact with me on those days!

  7. Monica says:

    I guess I am a ‘bad mom’ then according to you?

    I don’t believe I’m a perfect mom at all – not for one second. But I’m completely at peace with all my parenting choices and how things have turned out thus far. That even includes our choice to not vaccinate!

    I don’t think it’s fair to consider me a bad mom though – can you elaborate further on what you mean by that statement?

  8. Rachel Lopez says:

    Hi Jessica,
    This is one of the best posts I’ve ever read.

    I know you were writing about the evolution of being a good mom and doubting ourselves, but I am struck by your compassion. No judgements or criticisms. We, as women, mothers, daughters, sisters, friends, have failed sisterhood in general. We often forget that we too live in glass houses. I’m going to remember this post the next time I’m feeling harsh instead of kind.

    Thanks for making me smile,
    Rachel (@rachelsrants)

  9. Cindi says:

    It gets better!!!! My daughter is graduating from college this June at the age of 22. I recently apologized to her for some decisions I have regretted for years. She said something like: I’m graduating from college (within 4 years), I’ve had a job for 3 years, I have good grades, I had some great internships and made good contacts, I traveled to Thailand and South America and I have some really good friends — I think I turned out OK. You need to get over it.

    I hope every mother who has ever had doubts will someday have their kids tell them something similar. I have officially let go of the guilt and I am enjoying the wonderful young adult my daughter has grown into.

  10. I have so been that mom. This broke my heart a little.

  11. Jen says:

    Yes, the day before my oldest was born was the last day I knew exactly the right way to mother a child!

    The best advice I ever got on parenting was from a friend whose sons were off to college: “Remember, this is an endurance event, not a sprint.” That’s my mantra when I feel like I’m not doing it “right”. Just keep on and try to get your form back on the next hill :)

  12. gorillabuns says:

    even though i took my infant to the pediatrican’s office the day before, he still died while I was trying to be vigiliant. No matter what you do good or even better, the unthinkable can happen.

    Don’t think I am not that parent who cries when I am taking in my other my children for a cold, breathing issues or “being” issues for all mankind.

  13. Good Lord, that could so be me. As a matter of fact that WAS me. Two years ago in fact. Single mom, sick child (and I mean dying sick, not cold sick) dealing with it all alone. I’m pretty sure that was me as I walked in & out of many specialists offices searching for answers that could bring me some peace. I am still searching, but those early days were tough. Oh gawd, I think I may cry right now and I’m not even kidding you. This really touched on something. I wonder if anyone ever noticed….

  14. Amanda says:

    I had a woman at Kindergarten pick up say to me, “Yes, I remember seeing you one day, you were very pregnant and pulling your two daughters in the wagon. You were very frustrated.” My cheeks burned as she told me that and I wondered why she wouldn’t have said hello or asked if I needed help. Kristen Chase wrote a post about slipping her arm around a weeping mom. Maybe some wouldn’t want it, but for me knowing others bear witness eases some pain.

  15. Boy do I feel this post… Working full time out of necessity, having a sick baby at home and another still not out of the hospital, I have my share of crying fits… and yes, handing off your child to surgeons has shaved years and years off my life time and time again. I like to prie myself on the fact that I am a strong woman in that I pick myself up off the ground each time… I smile for my girls and I live in the moment… my life isn’t for just me anymore after all, it’s for my girls!

  16. Melanie says:

    Reminds me of the time I lost it at the cellphone store. Pregnant, I waited for over an hour with my two-year-old fidgeting and kicking me, before an old lady snaked my spot in line. Then the nurse from my OB’s office called and told me I’d have to take the 3-hour glucose test. I just sat there and cried, with my son kicking me and the Alltel lady staring at me awkwardly.

    I’ll never forget it! :)

  17. Andrea says:

    Well said. The self-doubt and self-recrimination sucks, but if you think you might be a bad mother – you’re probably not!

  18. Daphne says:

    Great post. You capture that feeling perfectly–in your writing and with the image of the crying mom.

  19. The most wonderful, and the most difficult, job anyone could ever have. Motherhood.

    Thank you for the post. You said it all so well.

  20. Lisa says:

    Life was hectic with one and then number 2 arrived and it was like a bomb went off. I cried a lot too, but never in public – or at least I don’t think so… It’s all been a blur. My two really keep me on my toes and unshowered on most days.

  21. April says:

    Possibly the best 2 lines I’ve ever read:
    “What makes a thirty something year old woman walk down public hallways crying?

    Motherhood.”

  22. Momma K says:

    Mrs Pop: I’m with you!
    It was just recently that I sat down and wondered….what is it that’s making me feel so bad lately? I feel guilty for too many things. I am working on it.
    I know it’s not healthy….but honestly I believe it’s part of being a mom and moms are often selfless and put everyone else first. Reading this post just reinforces that I’m not alone.(Thank-you!) I just started blogging and reading other mommy bloggers and I love sharing stories, tears, laughter…it helps me get through the day and also helps me to realize I’m not the only one feeling this way.
    I’m working slowly towards finding that perfect balance…although most days I wonder if “balance” really truly exists in the world of mothering/parenting?

  23. annie says:

    Did you ask her? I’d have inquired if there was something I could do. I am awful like that – always asking the obviously distraught if they are okay? Can I help? They aren’t, of course and I probably can’t, but I remember dark, dark times and it was nice when someone noticed what was – frankly – really obvious – even there was nothing they could do to help me.

  24. […] Tweets http://philanthropy.com/article/American-Charities-Raise/64468/ 2 Tweets She Was Pushing The Stroller And Crying This morning I brought Jane to the doctor, she has a sore throat. As we were waiting for the […]

  25. Erika says:

    I arrived at your blog through a different post, and I’m so glad that I did. This post was just what I needed to read today. I was a SAHM and somewhere along the way I became a WAHM – an independent contractor much like I think your friend might be. The difference is that a hobby just sort of morphed into this thing, and I embraced it. There was no job offer, no negotiation of a salary, no official announcement to family and friends that I was now working full time – simply a decision to take an opportunity to further pursue something that I love doing, and that gave me a chance to save money for my daughter’s college tuition. Also, as a newly single mom – the money was no longer for “play”.

    But motherhood, with all of it’s joyous moments, has left me crying in more than one hallway, corporate office bathroom, and airport. Even thought I know I’m doing a good job, some days I still need to read a post like this to remind me I’m not alone.

    Thank you for that.

  26. ~Laura says:

    Oh the self doubt… I wonder at what age this will end. Will our toddlers be in high school? Nah, too many serious issues to deal with then. Perhaps after college? I certainly hope so. That poor mother. I hope her day improved. The thing about being brought to tears because of your child is that their smile can have the same effect on you and uplift you like you never thought possible. Let’s hope that happened to her that day also.

  27. Jodi says:

    I understand the crying. When are little ones are hurt, we feel it so intensely. I think that’s another reason why parenting is so hard — we are so worried that we’re going to make a mistake and cause irreparable damage. Parents can be so hard on themselves and eachother. It’s so refreshing to share our fears so we know we’re not the only ones experiencing them. thank you!

  28. Allie says:

    I am coming late to this post.

    I rarely cry about my own life, I cry like baby watching tv but it’s rare I breakdown myself. I bawled in public a few weeks ago though. I had to have a tooth pulled and they decided I needed general anesthetic, and I am pregnant, and a mom. Reading my surgery release form through me into a panic. I have never been afraid of anesthesia before, but I haven’t been put under since becoming a mom. It terrified me and no amount of will power could stop my chin from quivering or my shoulders from moving up and down as I waited for the nurse to reach my OB by phone to get the OK for the surgery before I left the office. I sat and stared at the carpet, tears hitting my cute red shoes.

    Having a baby changes everything and sometimes it takes you and the other people unsure of what to say sitting the waiting room at the oral surgeons by surprise.

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