We’ve all seen moms out in public struggling with young kids, but even the most experienced of parents may be hesitant to extend a helping hand or offer a word of encouragement. One mom is trying to change that with a powerful story about how it always helps to support a fellow parent.
Katie McLaughlin, a journalist and mother of two, shared a story about a recent trip to Target where she came across a toddler having a tantrum. “This morning at Target I witnessed a meltdown of epic proportions,” she wrote on her Facebook page. “Behind me at the checkout, this 3-year-old was kicking and screaming and flopping around on the floor like a fish out of water. I tried to catch the mom’s eye and give her an empathetic look, but she was too busy wrestling with her daughter to notice me.”
She goes on to mention the mom appeared to be handling the situation as well as she could by trying to calm down her child. But she was still clearly upset by the scene she was causing. Katie wanted to approach her, but froze in the moment.
“Say something kind to her, I thought. She’s embarrassed and alone and feels like a terrible mother. Remind her that none of those things are true,” she wrote. “But then I thought, No, it’s none of your business. LEAVE THE POOR STRANGER ALONE.”
Later on, she saw the mother in the parking lot and the little girl was still having a meltdown. But this time she had the courage to go support her.
“Go to her, Katie, I thought again. This time I did,” she wrote. “‘Sorry to bother you, but I just wanted to say you’re doing a great job.’ She looked up at me, blinked twice, and then visibly melted. Tears started streaming. ‘I think I feel as bad as she does.’ I nodded. ‘I know it doesn’t feel like it now, but you are rocking this.’ More tears. ‘You have no idea how much I needed to hear that.’”
The stranger’s touching response is something that Katie is all to familiar with as a working mom herself—and it certainly is something that plenty of moms can relate to as well. Since being posted last week, her story has been shared over 13,000 times and received many comments from moms sharing similar experiences.
Katie ended her post by calling on others to offer their support when they see a mom struggling. Even if it’s just to tell her she is doing a great job.
“Let’s take the risk. That mom could have looked at me funny. She could have told me to mind my own business. But I took the chance and we are both better for it,” she wrote. “Empathy instead of judgment. Support instead of silence. Community instead of isolation. This is the parenting revolution.”