To the Woman Who Felt the Need to Confront Me Today:


I wish I had been able to reply to you right then.  After you spoke to me, I was sick and anxious and on the verge of tears, and too humiliated to string any words together.  I tried to find you later, after I could process what you’d said.  I looked for you everywhere; the woman in the long coat, hat, and dark sunglasses.  But you had disappeared.  So this is what I would have said to you.

You’re probably right.  I’m sure there was a better way I could have handled the situation.  I realize that dragging my screaming son across the floor because he’s freaking out and won’t come with me doesn’t look like stellar parenting.  I assessed the situation and decided that pulling him along with me would be better than just leaving him to scream and possibly destroy things.  According to you, I made the wrong call.  And according to you, my behavior is setting him up to be an abusive boyfriend and father.  I think that’s sort of an extreme conclusion, but I suppose I can see where you’re coming from.

All you saw was a ten-second snippet of one of my poorer parenting moments. Now let me tell you what you don’t know.

What you don’t know is that I am trying my best, every damn day.  I was so proud of myself today for making breakfast and getting the boys ready; for cleaning the house with them, and doing puzzles together.  I was proud that I got us out of the house for story time at the library for the first time since we moved here, because I knew it was garbage-truck themed and I knew the boys would be so excited.

What you don’t know is that a few months ago on a day just like this, you would probably have found me lying on the couch, sobbing, while my children played on their own or watched tv.  You might have found me slowly pacing the house in a numb stupor, trying to find a way out of the thick, dark, heavy fog in my head.  I was doing my best then, too—even if I couldn’t manage to bathe them all the time or brush their teeth twice a day, I was functioning as well as I could. I made sure we were all taken care of and well fed.   I was in survival mode—but that was all I could manage at that time.

What you don’t know is that it is hard for me, just like it is for every mom (and dad).  It is hard for me to get out and do things.  It is hard for me to play with my children—medication hasn’t fully taken that thick haze away.  Many times I feel detached and distant; and on bad days it’s nearly impossible for me to connect with anyone at all.  It is hard for me to find the energy to make it through the day with my sweet boys sometimes because I am so damn tired, all the time.

What you don’t know is that there some days I am so keyed up and anxious that I am constantly one tiny step away from absolutely flipping out.  What you don’t know is that I hate this about myself, and I want so badly to be more loving and more patient and more involved.

What you don’t know is that there is nothing you can say to me that I haven’t already said to myself.  I live under constant criticism in my own head.  I constantly worry that I’m screwing everything up, and that others are judging me, every moment of every day.  I try to push those thoughts away, but seeing the disapproval and judgment in your face today just confirmed that once again, I screwed up.  So, I’m sorry.  I apologize to you and to my boys.  But I swear to you, I am trying.

What you don’t know is that I love those two little boys so much.  I’m not the peaceful, engaged, patient mom I so desperately want to be.  I’m not the amazing mom they deserve.  I’m not even of half of that woman.  But I don’t need anyone to tell me that.  I am keenly, painfully aware of all of my failures; of all of my shortcomings. I do appreciate your concern, and realize that I don’t know your background either.  Maybe you’ve dealt with things that make the concerns you brought up very legitimate.

But let me give you some advice now.  When you see a mom struggling, I can assure you that she doesn’t need one more voice telling her that she’s doing everything wrong.  What she really needs, in that moment of difficulty, is for someone to say, “Hey, it looks like you’re having a really hard time today.  But you know what?  You are doing great.  Keep it up, mama.”

That’s what I would say.

Photo on 11-29-13 at 10.57 AM #3


16 thoughts on “To the Woman Who Felt the Need to Confront Me Today:

  1. Love this. I don’t have kids but every time I see a mom with a kid coming unglued, I think, “that looks tougher than anything I have ever done in my whole life, you are a heroine.” Most people are rooting for you, even if we don’t speak up.

  2. Okay, initial reaction? That. bitch.

    But I’ll go a little deeper. She was not doing that to help you, or even to help your kids. That was an ego trip by a vicious, vindictive stranger. She wanted to put you down because she is small and self-righteous and petty.

    And that is so not fair. What I mean is, it’s possible she was having a really bad day, or had a bad childhood, or a bad marriage or a thousand other things. But that doesn’t give her the right to talk to anyone, or give ANYONE unsolicited advice.

    I think you are doing wonderfully. The fact that you have these thoughts – the desire to do more, to be better – puts you above the majority of people already. I get it though; sometimes complete strangers confirm or echo the thoughts that haunt me and it’s like a slap in the face. But that woman doesn’t know you and, like you said, doesn’t know how hard you try.

    To echo your words: you know what? You’re doing great. Keep it up, mama.

    • Honestly, my first reaction was “Back off, bitch!” too. (I don’t take criticism well at all…but that’s my problem to work on. haha) I really believe that most people do better when they are encouraged, not criticized or even corrected. Correction is something that is definitely necessary sometimes, but I think we need to ask ourselves first whether that’s our job or not. (Hint: most of the time, it’s not.)

      You always have my back, Marissa. Thanks for always being on my side, especially on the days when everybody is cats. 😉

  3. Great to hear your thoughts! I have been through a dark patch when my grandparents pasted a few years ago, and I found getting outside everyday was always helpful. It sounds incredibly simple, but if you get your heart pumping, and your body moving, you will feel better! I have three self checks when I start to feel a little funky 1. Have I eaten 2. Have I been outside today and had your heart pumping 3. How did I sleep? The essentials have to be addressed first, and then I can face a problem I am facing with a better mind frame. Situationally, I understand you have kiddos, so things get more difficult. I am always impressed with Mom’s who are out there killin’ on the trail, you definitely get some kind of special mom POWER when you have kids. Also, get after yoga, it can be incredibly healing! 🙂

    • Thank you so much for the advice, Jordan! You are so right. I’m a bit of an introvert (haha…understatement) so I tend to get into a routine of being home almost all the time without even realizing it. And then when everything starts to build up I think, when was the last time I actually got outside or talked to people? So I will definitely work on that. And I’ve done bits of yoga here and there but have wanting to get into it so badly! I wish I could take a class. For now I need to get myself out of bed early enough in the mornings and make it a habit. I really think yoga would do wonders for me.

      Thank you for commenting, it was so cool to hear from you!

  4. Oh dear Heather. I’m so sorry. It breaks my heart. What a good thing I wasn’t present to say something I would regret for the rest of my life.

    It reminds me of the time I was playing in the commissary with you and Andrew. You guys were tiny.

    It wasn’t busy and we would play this game where you or Andrew would take something off the shelf and try to sneak it in the basket. I would catch you and say “oh noo you don’t.” Put it back and tickle you and laugh. It was harmless.

    This large gruff German lady practically goose steps up too me and says “You need to learn to control your children!” In the most haughty manner you can imagine looking down yards and yards of nose.

    I looked at her and quipped back “Well, you need to learn to control your mouth!”

    I regretted it then and even now that I didn’t just look at her and walk away.

    Or the time in Korea I was playing with you and Andrew at a volleyball game and a young soldier said too me “your kids make me never want to have children!”

    Oh great another of the world’s self appointed keepers of the gatefold all things good.

    I once again opened my big mouth and said “it’s a shame your mother didn’t feel that way!”

    Once again I should’ve walked away and once gain, I still regret it.

    You are a strong woman much stronger than you know.

    I have always been your greatest cheerleader and I still wish I could keep and protect you like in your youth.

    Being a parent is hard but so rewarding. It’s always been my favorite part of life.

    Love, Dad

    • Thank you so much, Dad. You have definitely always been my cheerleader and I love you for that. It means so much to know that you and mom support me no matter what.

      I am so sorry those people said such rude things to you! When I hear things like that I really can’t believe that people actually say these things. Is there no filter at all between their brains and their mouths? A lot of times I wish I had a snappy retort ready, but I guess it’s better that I don’t say anything.

  5. You are an amazing mom Heather. Do not let anyone make you feel otherwise. If you ever need anything do not hesitate to reach out. We all love and support you. Keep up the great work momma.
    Im here for you if you need someone to talk to and listen please call me. Love you darlin.

  6. Love this Heather! And no, your not the only one. I feel its a thing where all moms usually pretend like we have it all together. But we dont. Just gotta try our best everyday. And as long as they are at least fed, clothed, happy and alive thats an A in my book. 🙂

  7. I was only able to give your blog a few reads today, but just sat down to look it over thoroughly and discovered you have a category dedicated to Depression and Anxiety. I don’t know if I would have changed my comment, but it definitely takes on a new thought process.

    You see I realized I was a depressive after my Husband and I moved to NYC. Even though we were renters, you don’t move around in NYC. You must pay a broker fee of several thousand dollars, not including deposit. So once you found an apartment, you stay. We had also just moved from Las Vegas and before that I lived in Phoenix so I was used to a heavy dose of sun. We moved to the city right before winter and I’m sure my Vit D was depleted. About 6 months into living there I began to dissolve. That’s the best way I know how to put it. I didn’t want to do or live. I just wanted to dissipate. I went to a General Practioner who offered medication, but I didn’t take it. But it was at this point it dawned on me, that perhaps moving was a method with which to control my “slumps”.

    At the age of 25, I got in such a rut, I broke up with my boyfriend, quit my job and moved out of my apartment and across town in the same weekend. I still think of it as one of the happiest times in my life. So you see, moving may actually be a control mechanism.

    I’ve learned to feel the symptoms coming on and I’m still learning how to change my day. Sometimes it works, sometimes, it pj’s, coffee and too much tv for my precious little girls. “I made sure we were all taken care of and well fed. I was in survival mode”. The phrase my Husband has heard many times from me, “I fed them, I kept them safe, that’s all I could manage today”. I cried reading every one of your posts, for relief that I was not alone in my feelings and sadness at the guilt we depressive Mother’s feel. You literally hit every single moment I have ever experienced.

    I didn’t have anxiety until after my 2nd child was born. That was new to me. I remember my first panic attack, the moments my heart would pound out of my chest if I lost sight of my kids for one second at the store. I don’t know if you noticed a change after pregnancy, but I sure did. I can tell you that after almost 2.5 years since my last kiddo was born I am having less and less really bad days. I did not take drugs. I considered it many times. I was breastfeeding and no one could tell me it was completely safe to take them. I also am afraid I won’t be able to function without them. That terrifies me. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for doing what helps you. It is a personal decision. I wish we lived in a medical marijuana state because I am 100% convinced it would help. But being a parent I am not about to be a law breaker.

    I am intrigued by your writing. You don’t write like a 20 something. Perhaps it’s because you experienced a gambit of emotions in your short years. Either way I’m glad to have found your blog and look forward to more. Thank you for sharing your experiences. You are not alone and amazingly enough there is at least one person who knows EXACTLY how you feel.

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