Over 2011 and 2012 (Before the birth of my son)
What I heard a mother say to her husband, regarding her child: “You have to cancel your plans this weekend, because I’ve decided I’m going out on both nights. You have to stay at home with him. I need a break.”
What I thought: “He made his plans 2 weeks ago, why should he have to cancel! How selfish! Why did she have a child if she didn’t want to look after him?”
What I saw: A mother scream at her 3 year old son, when he kept refusing to eat his lunch.
What I thought: “How can you scream at him? He is just a child. You’re a mother. You just have to be patient.”
Over 2012 and 2013 (After the birth of my son)
Scene: My 4 month old son has been crying non-stop and I’ve tried everything to soothe him. Finally after nearly an hour and a half, he stops.
I feel: Relieved that his discomfort is finally over, but emotionally drained from having to hear his cries. Not being able to do anything about it was so frustrating. I am mentally exhausted. I feel I need a break.
Scene: I’m trying to have a phone conversation about something very important and my 10 month old son who has just been fed and changed, is refusing to play with his toys and is continuing an incessant ‘protest’ in the background, making it very difficult for me to focus on what I’m saying.
My reaction: I turn to him and scream, “God, can you just shut up for 5 minutes!”
Scene: It’s 10pm and I’m alone at home with my 11 month old son who is refusing to sleep. He is crawling all over the apartment and wants to play peek-a-boo.
I think: I am SO tired, I just want to have dinner and go to sleep. I need a break from doing this every single day.
To the mothers I have judged:
I used to judge you. I was wrong.
Today I am one of you. Today I understand.
I understand how you must have felt:
– Terrible about yelling at your child
– Like you’re about to go out of your mind
– Tiredness like you’ve never known before
– Like you just ‘needed a break’
I also understand that all this is not an indication of how much you love your child or of the lengths you’d go to ensure his/her well-being.
But above all, I understand that you…..and I….. are human beings.