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Elastic mom…& all others, I applaud you ♥️

Elastic mom…& all others, I applaud you ♥️ I encountered a mother of 2 while at the grocery store yesterday. That doesn’t seem unusual or noteworthy, and there truly wasn’t anything remarkable about the encounter, but for some reason it caused me to ponder this “mommy shaming” trend that I've witnessed on social media. Without fail, my 40+ year old bladder will demand that I seek out the ladies room EVERY time I shop. It matters not that I tinkled before leaving the house nor that I may be on a brief mission to purchase a simple pack of gum...the bladder wants what it wants and if I deny it there will be regret and humiliating consequences. Yesterday’s trip to the grocery store was no exception and I found myself making the trek to the back of the store to silence my bladder. When I turned the corner to enter the hallway where the restroom is located, I saw a young mother in some sort of contortionist pose that only a mother can do: Her right arm was fully extended, providing the barrier necessary to keep an impatient infant seated in a grocery cart in the hallway, while her right leg was likewise extended so that her foot was blocking the wheels and preventing the cart from rolling. Her left arm and leg were extended in the opposite direction, propping open the ladies room door so that she could physically see her toddler who was on the inside using the facilities AND so she could provide instruction and encouragement to help him achieve expert level in this whole potty training thing. Half of her body was in the hallway and half inside the ladies room. Her head was the only part of her body in motion as she glanced back and forth between baby in the hallway and her big brother in the exposed stall. The rest of her stabilized as if she were frozen in the middle of a jumping jack or doing her best impression of a starfish. When she saw me walking towards her she apologized...not for anything specific, just a general “I’m sorry” that covered a multitude of possible grievances she thought I may have. I squeezed past and gave her the typical reassuring “no, you’re fine” response, took my seat in an empty stall, did my business and left. (I better mention that I DID wash my hands...I don’t need any shamers focusing on hygiene matters) After I got back to my shopping I had to giggle as I thought about that Mommy in the hallway. Not because she looked silly or because I thought her method was ridiculous but because I completely understood and appreciated her duties as a bouncer, teacher, hygienist and extreme athlete ALL in that one moment. For some reason this encounter, although brief and truly not out of the ordinary, stuck with me and I found myself thinking about it several times throughout the day. I went to bed last night wishing I had told that mommy she didn’t need to apologize and that it saddens me that she even felt the need to...but again, I understand and appreciate why she did. I would've done the same to anyone who happened upon me while in that predicament because there were plenty of things that could’ve been viewed as rude, inconsiderate and even unsafe: -She was blocking access to other doors in the hallway. -She was creating an obstacle for anyone wanting to use the stall directly behind the door she was propping open, -and she was robbing any other ladies room occupants of privacy from the rest of the store. I’m sure there’s an exhaustive list of “heinous social crimes” she committed in that encounter that would justify someone feeling inconvenienced or violated, but surprisingly NONE of them entered my mind. I felt nothing but camaraderie and respect for this mother. I understood that taking an infant out of the shopping cart to accompany a toddler into the restroom in the MIDDLE of a shopping trip would be a rookie mistake. That once adorable baby would physically and loudly protest returning to her seat, therefore forcing mom to carry her while also wrangling a toddler AND navigating an increasingly heavy shopping cart with one available arm. I knew that physically laying eyes on her toddler while he is exposed to strangers in a public restroom was necessary, as was ensuring he met all the requirements of a successful potty experience. Lastly, I could appreciate her desire to take shortcuts and streamline this whole process because this likely wasn’t her first, and probably wouldn’t be her last, trip to the restroom during this single shopping trip. Potty training is relentless and so are toddlers who fake urgency so that they can visit a public restroom to play in the soap and water. I think what struck me about this whole encounter was how easy it would've been to react negatively and feel inconvenienced by this mommy in the hallway. It could’ve been something as simple as an intolerant eye roll to convey displeasure or something much grander like a full blown public shaming rant on social media...“to the lady shopping at the WHOLE FOODS MARKET on Belmont St. this afternoon who was inconsiderately blocking the entrance to the ladies room, etc.etc” Criticizing and demeaning seems to come naturally for some and is such a disservice to everyone involved, especially in the public shaming arena. No one feels better as a result of it-not the person launching the assault and certainly not the person on the receiving end. Sure you get to vent and “raise awareness” of a perceived atrocity but what does it truly accomplish other than a barrage of negative comments and further disgruntled humans? A better outcome would be achieved by sympathizing and encouraging, it’s equally as easy to do and benefits everyone. I applaud the mother who wants to keep an eye on their child at all times, even if it means being stretched across a hallway like an elastic super hero...and I applaud the mother that still has faith in humanity and lets her child independently use a public restroom out of her sight while she shops 3 aisles away I'm not privy to the details of their lives and WHY they each parent the way that they do, and MY parenting style doesn't give me license to criticize theirs. I don't feel the need to make them aware of what they're overlooking, or mount a campaign to make others join a shaming crusade. I feel the need instead to identify with their mission to keep their offspring alive, thriving and working towards self sufficiency so we can continue on as a species by whatever means possible. It's that simple.

Circa mid 1970's (before there was a boy in the lineup)

2009...long after there was a boy and not long before we lost our Patriarch

2016 when we celebrated the 70th birthday of the Matriarch...and her 5 contributions to the species 😬