The first time my daughter had a public meltdown, I felt incredibly alone. I was mortified by the disapproving stares and my inability to soothe my baby. It certainly wasn't the only time I found myself in an awkward parenting moment. Being a mom is tough, but I found it's easier to get through it when I don't feel so alone.
Mothering can feel like lonely work. After the baby comes, the attention shifts away from Mom and onto Baby. She may struggle as her identity transforms because it is simultaneously amazing and scary, like the first drop on a roller coaster. Once she re-emerges confident in her parenting, situations will arise and shake that confidence, threatening to crack the appearance of having it all together.
From new mom to veteran mom, there are five things we all need to hear from time to time. Words to reassure us that we aren't alone. That we're supported and valued. That we're not forgotten.
How are you? Skip questions about the baby and focus on her. She's been asked one too many times how the baby is sleeping and eating, but who is asking how she's sleeping and eating? If she needs anything? Give her the opportunity to connect with you. Maybe she needs someone to open that door so she can take a moment to assess herself.
Your children are beautiful. Whether she's having a frantic day or a fabulous one, a kind, yet simple observation can lift her spirits. It provides perspective on a day when her kids are driving her crazy. When we hear so many negative stories about children's behavior in public, it's refreshing to hear a compliment.
When she feels frazzled or thinks she is a contender for the Worst Mom of the Year award, listen to her, validate her feelings, and remind her to be gentle with herself.
Good job and you got this! Be genuine and authentic, yet supportive. Did she handle a temper tantrum like a pro? Tell her. Did she redirect and masterfully distract her toddler? Tell her. Does she have doubts about her parenting? Tell her she's got this.
Be gentle with yourself. When she feels frazzled or thinks she is a contender for the Worst Mom of the Year award, listen to her, validate her feelings, and remind her to be gentle with herself. We can all use a reminder that we're strong, capable mamas and our kids will be fine.
May I help you? She's more likely to confide in you and accept help if you offer it first. It's hard to ask for help, and sometimes we don't exactly know what we need help with. The more specific the offer, the harder it is for her to say no to you. I mean, who can say no to, "can I hold your baby while you take a shower/eat/pee?" Not me.
As a new mom, if no one offered help, then I tried to figure out how to do it all alone. Except, it's hard to do this mother thing all alone—whether we like to admit it or not. I've gotten better at asking for help and giving myself grace, but I got there by other moms (and dads and strangers) saying these things to me. Now, I'm passing them on.