When my youngest was 4, I had to bring him along every day to pick up his siblings at school. It was a disaster—and that's putting it lightly. Every day, no matter what I did, we would leave the school with him in tears or even throwing full-on tantrums. I had no idea why this kept happening. The same thing would happen whenever we went to the grocery store, the library or the doctor's office.
Yeah, I was the one with that kid.
I hated leaving the house but also hated being secluded. Plus, I felt I wasn't being fair to my other two children. Sometimes I had to get out of the house so badly, we would just hit the less public drive-thru. But even then, his meltdown would be so loud, the poor person at the window could not hear what I wanted.
I certainly didn't explain to everyone I was a stay-at-home mother of three who didn't have anyone to watch him at home because my mother, sisters and friends either worked or had families of their own, with super tight schedules. Besides, I wasn't sure anyone would have cared what my reasoning was unless they had been in my position.
When you are the mother of that kid, you beat yourself up every day. You take all the blame and wonder what you are doing wrong.
To a lot of people, I must have looked like the woman with the bratty kid. Maybe they thought he was spoiled. Perhaps they thought I was a lazy mom who didn't know how to discipline.
When you are the mother of that kid, most people don't take the time to look at the things you are doing right. Somehow your child's behavior upsets them so much and makes them judge so hard that instead of trying to understand, they'd rather kick you when you are down.
When you are the mother of that kid, you are so aware of their behavior and struggle about all the things that every outing is utterly exhausting. You can't help but feel you'll never get some sense of normalcy back.
When you are the mother of that kid, you get so damn frustrated because it's incredibly hard for you and your kids to keep some sort of routine. You know trying is the healthy thing to do, but you question if it's worth all the trouble. Instead, you often just stay at home, say no to the party and don't invite anyone over.
When you are the mother of that kid, you beat yourself up every day. You take all the blame and wonder what you are doing wrong. It feels impossible not to question every move you make. You try everything and still feel like you come up short.
When you are the mother of that kid, you see so much good in them. It breaks your heart that they get treated differently, even though you know they are asking for love and attention in a different kind of way. You know they get overwhelmed and don't know how to process their feelings or tell you what they need because they don't know themselves.
The judgment from others when you have a wild child is very real. You can try to ignore those people. You can tell yourself they just don't know what it's like because they have not walked a mile in your shoes, so their thoughts and opinions shouldn't concern you. But the truth is, all the side-eyes and comments about your child still hurt.
It's common for your kid to be criticized for something a child who doesn't act up all the time would never be punished for. Because they can be difficult, there are times they aren't treated fairly, even if you know they are trying hard to do the right thing.
But, just as your child is doing his best, so are you. From one mother to another, if your child is that child, hang in there. Realize your best will look different every day, and remember you are not alone.