“I want choo-choo train! I want choo-choo train! I want choo-choo train! I want it! I want it! I want it!” The little boy’s crying filled the entire shop. The more his mom tried to quiet him, the louder he yelled. The tantrum lasted about ten minutes. I felt sorry for his mom. I’ve been there many times. I said a little prayer for her sanity and continued looking through the clothing racks minding my own business.
Then an older woman who worked at the store sidled up alongside me, “He just wants some attention. I went over and talked to him, and he quit crying. She has that new baby with her. He probably doesn’t get any attention from Mom now with the baby here. She needs to get on top of that. She can’t let that continue.” I gave the lady a nod and walked away.
I really wanted to ask her how she managed to know so much about the little boy, his mom and new baby who were strangers? I wanted to ask her if her children were perfect and never threw a fit in public? I wanted to ask her if she ever made a mistake when her kids were young? I wanted to ask her to have a little compassion.
Because this is what I saw:
A young mom with a new baby who was tired and overwhelmed. A mom who probably dared drag both her kids out to the store with her, because she was desperate for a few minutes away from the house. I saw a mom who was patient and calm while her kid screamed like a banshee in public. I saw a mom who was doing her best.
I see you too with the spit up on your three-day-old t-shirt. The counter piled high with dirty dishes. The laundry stacked to the ceiling. I see you sitting on the couch holding the baby, turning Disney Jr. on for the toddler, worrying you should be doing alphabet flashcards with him. Trying to stay awake until your husband comes home.
I see you rushing home from work. I see you making macaroni and cheese. Again. As you wonder what people would think if they knew you served food out of a box every night. I see you losing it a little bit when your kid argues with you about doing homework. I see you speed read the bedtime story and skip lullaby verses, so you can put your feet up for a few minuets before you go to bed. Then I see you do it all over again tomorrow.
I see you doing it all on your own. I see you when your eyes fill with tears as you struggle to explain to your little girl why Daddy isn’t there. I see you wonder how you’ll pay the gas bill and buy birthday presents this month. I see you wearing that old coat, because you spend all you have on the kids. I see you feeling alone at night when everyone is in bed.
I see all of you mamas with your kids and your frazzled days and happy moments. I see your dreams and your heartaches. I see you trying and struggling. I see you loving and living. I see you, hearts full of hope, acting with courage.
I see you.
I see me in you.
I see you in me.
I see you.