Earlier this week, a complete stranger hugged me in the grocery store.
I had just finished having a stern conversation with my 3-year-old, whose perpetual capriciousness about her present state of being — she wanted in the shopping cart, then wanted out again, and she was loud about it — is a regular feature of my day. And it makes performing even simple errands a herculean feat.
While kneeling down with her to discuss my expectations for the remainder of our supermarket visit, my 2-year-old busied herself filling our cart with apples.
After our “discussion” was over, I returned the fruit to the stand and remember feeling overcome by a wave of vulnerability. So many parenting exercises, especially the unpleasant ones, are performed before an audience — in the produce section, on the playground, in the church pew.
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Parenting can be a very public job. And everyone is a critic.
My exasperation and embarrassment must have been evident. When I turned around, a woman about my age was standing before me; there were two small children, about the ages of mine, in her cart. Before I could say a word she wrapped me in a bear hug. “You handled that with grace,” she said, “talking to your daughter like you did. You’re doing a great job. You got this.”
I was shocked and overcome by the unexpected validation.
Many of my mom friends, especially those who stay home full-time or work nontraditional jobs…
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