I went to the Children’s Museum this morning here in town and had an experience that I will probably never forget. My son and I were in the elevator (daughter is at camp – a wonderful invention – I would like to kiss deeply the person who thought of camp). Anyway, my son and I were getting into the elevator when a woman came in looking a bit frazzled. She had a big double stroller with a boy in the front seat around 7 years old, and then 3 other children around her, slightly older.
Looking very frustrated, I couldn’t help but hear her arguing with one of the children about something that happened that embarrassed them. I didn’t hear the story details so I’m not sure what they were referring to. However, at the moment the elevator stopped, the boy in the stroller started banging his head against the front of the stroller, then against the elevator hand rail. He was yelling that he wanted to go to the play area. Yelling loudly and banging over and over again. She struggled with getting him to stop and I helped her push the stroller out of the elevator so we all could exit.
I looked at the mother, then at him, then back at the mother. She had tears in her eyes. I realized when I looked at the son that he had down syndrome. I smiled at the mother and said, “There’s just rough days being a mother, isn’t there?”
Her reply is the reason I will never forget this story.
She replied with a shaking voice and tears coming down her face, “Every day is like this for me.”
I then decided to do what goes against every fabric of my New Yorker’s body. I walked right up to this woman I have never met before and I hugged her. And she cried in my arms. Then I said that words that I think every mother needs to hear, even me.
“You are a good mother.”
I repeated this about 10 times to her. I told her that we are all doing the best we can do in life. Then, I told her that she was definitely a better mother than I was because I hardly ever brought just 2 kids to the museum, let alone 4. She laughed and I told her that I hoped she had a good day. Though, I knew the chance of that was hard for her to imagine.
My heart has been hurting for that mother ever since I walked away from her.
My hats are off to all of you with children with extra needs. I hope you all know that you are good mothers. And it’s ok to cry. Even at the children’s museum.