Creating Balance Self-Improvement

Seeking Balance

Getting Real with Shadra Bruce

Balance is elusive.

I often work too hard, then I’m so tired I can’t do anything useful for self-care. It’s the nature of my business – there is always something more that needs done, so I could conceivably work non-stop forever. I want that clean desk, boxes checked, end of the day to happen…and it’s not going to. I have had to teach myself that the work is continuous, and I have to find good places to stop.

But then, when I do have a minute, the demands of others reach out and grab those precious minutes. I don’t mind – in fact, that’s probably the biggest problem: I want to say yes, every time someone needs something from me. I’ve become more adept at saying no to unreasonable client requests, especially once I realized that a client who was paying me a pretty decent retainer fee was reducing me to slave wages with extra demands.

But I’ve hit a point in my life where my constant devotion to my business and to the others in my life is resulting in negative consequences for me. My health is suffering. My stress is too high. My ability to do what I need to do to be healthy is non-existent.

What I’ve decided is that saying yes all the time isn’t good for me, but it isn’t good for them, either. Because if my health deteriorates to the point where I can’t do anything fun with my kids and grandkids, or if my husband is stuck taking care of a sick person just when we’re finally getting to the point where we can enjoy alone time together, well that’s not doing anyone any good at all.

So I’m going to try to find that elusive balance for myself – a balance that doesn’t mean I’m so tired at the end of the day that all I can do is walk from my office to my living room and collapse – a balance that prioritizes me time, my time, and my health. And I think my kids will be cool if occasionally I have to say, “Not right now.”

My new truths:

  • I’m no good to anyone if I can’t take care of my own self
  • Taking care of me makes me better at taking care of others
  • My health is as important as everyone else’s needs
  • Down time – for me to read, meditate, contemplate – is essential
  • The house – and the people in it – won’t fall down around me if I step away to paint and feed my creative soul

I’m a work in progress, and I’m still learning what I need to thrive. I am lucky to be surrounded by people I love, but the thing is, they love me too – and they want me to be here, healthy, and happy more than they want those few minutes of my time that I take to nurture me and restore balance.

On Motherhood Stress Management

9 Mom Hacks for Moms Who Teach

Getting Real with Brittany Tiedeman

I recently had to return to work after having my baby. I’ve developed these hacks to help me survive.

1. So you’re at work and notice there is spit-up on your shirt. Normally it doesn’t bother you, but let’s say you have a big meeting or are being observed that day. A wonderful, pretty sticker will do the trick. Is the spit up too big for one sticker? Jazz it up and use three, or ten. My personal favorites are the Disney stickers.

2. Accidentally forgot to leave your daughter’s headband in the car because daycare says it’s a danger? Can you say, fashionable new bracelet for the day? No one will even notice it’s a headband and the students will enjoy your new fashion statement because, let’s be honest, they notice everything.

3. How many times have you been in your classroom dying to pee but can’t find someone to watch your students for a few minutes? Wear a pad or panty liner just in case you leak. Please note, don’t actually pee fully or you will wet your pants.

4. So many times throughout the day, I seem to find myself missing my daughter. Now, I keep something small of hers in my pocket to hold onto when I start to miss her. It can be something small, like a hair bow or pacifier clip. Just something you can keep in your pocket.

5. Did you just give birth a few months ago and your body is transforming back into its beautiful self and a student tells you that you are fat? Well, just laugh it off. Those laughing calories will help you lose all that “fat.”

6. Have you ever been in the situation where daycare is calling you to update you on your child? Walk over to the dramatic play area and answer the call. If anyone comes into your room, they’ll just think you’re playing with the kids. Little do they know you’re making sure everything is ok. Don’t do this too often or people will take notice.

7. I don’t know how many times I have forgotten my lunch, even before having kids. Well, at my school we have snack time with the kids. Eat snack with them. Everyone will compliment you on being a good role model for them, but they don’t know that it was your lunch and boy were you hungry.

8. I hate it when some parents pick up late so now you’re late to pick up your kid and you have to rush out without cleaning up your classroom. I have a TOMORROW bucket for just that purpose. I quickly throw everything into the bucket so that when the last kid is picked up and I get out the door more quickly and my room looks like it is still put together. The next day, if I don’t have time to put the things away before class, I have my students help me.

9. Some mornings are just rough. Maybe the dog ate your breakfast and your child was acting like a sloth getting out the door. Hugs from your students are the best! They do understand that some days are just sad. Plus, if you work with young kids like I do, I just tell them the baby was crabby and they will run up and hug me.

What hacks help you survive those early days of easing back into it after having a baby?

Family Making Memories On Motherhood

Halloween Is for Moms

Halloween is different for us now that we have three grown kids and two teenagers. Our kids, with pressure from us, stopped trick-or-treating around age 13. But Halloween is really for moms anyway, at least when the kids are really young. There are a few years where it’s all about the kids – from about age 7 – 13 – where they can pick their own costumes without too much influence from mom (and eat their own candy), but before then, it’s as much a dress up and photo op for mom.

Take my daughter, Kira. Last year, her daughter Hallie was only six months old. She couldn’t even walk yet. But not only was Hallie the most adorable flower in town, but because she had no teeth, somebody had to help eat the candy. Moms are awesome that way.

When Parker and Anika were little, it was all about me having fun with my life-size dolls. There was the year of the cowardly lion.

There was the year Parker was Peter Pan and Anika was Tinker Bell.

And there was the year when Parker was the purple dragon and Anika was the perfect princess.

As you can see by the photos, I was obviously having a lot more fun with the costumes than they were. Once they could choose their own costumes, it was still fun, but far less about me getting my cute pictures.

Except for the year they were obsessed with Harry Potter.

This year, Hallie can walk, understands the value of chocolate (even though her mother will still help her eat it), and will have a blast trick-or-treating with her cousins.

I think it is awesome that she is a power ranger – and so does she.

Dave, Parker, Anika and I will put out a bowl of candy, lock the doors, and move on to our new tradition: watching a horror movie (meeting my one-per-year quota). But don’t worry – we bought extra candy. For them and for mom.

Happy Halloween!


10 Rules for Achieving Success

Getting Real With Shadra Bruce

I’m not a millionaire or even close, but for the last seven years, I’ve comfortably worked from home, supporting my family while maintaining a work-life balance that keeps me content. While I have my share of moments where I wonder if my good fortune will continue, I know that achieving success takes time, effort, and integrity. (Unless you’re a big bank, then you can just swindle people out of money to get rich).

These are my 10 rules for achieving success, ones that I use in my credibility, branding, and visibility services for my clients, and ones that I use in all of my other efforts as well.

10 Rules for Achieving Success in Life

#1 – Play twice as hard as you work. Work hard.

#2 – Do not focus on the destination without fully experiencing each step of the journey there.

#3 – Step out of the spotlight and let others shine sometimes.

#4 – Learn how to say no.

#5 – Failure is not a detour from success but part of the journey to it.

#6 – You must believe in what you do. If you don’t, you need to change what you do.

#7 – Never be afraid to admit your mistakes. Then learn from them.

#8 – Never stop learning, never stop seeing the world with fresh perspective.

#9 – Be humble enough to realize there’s always someone better than you. Use knowledge not as threat but as opportunity

#10 – Help others along the way … without expecting anything in return.

What would you add to the list? How do you measure success in your life?

Creating Balance Self-Improvement Stress Management

I Suck at Self-Care

Getting Real with Kira Hazledine

Self-care is important, especially as a mom. You can’t possibly devote all the necessary energies to your kids if your own tank is measuring empty. As much as I try to repeat this mantra to myself, I must admit that I suck at self-care. I feel guilty leaving for only the briefest of moments, and I can’t even tell you why. Other family members are completely capable of caring for her, and even if she cries as I leave, her eyes are dry as soon as I’m out of sight. So why do I have such a hard time doing something for myself as an individual, and not as a mom?

We all have our struggles.

I struggle daily with PTSD, a souvenir from my time in an abusive relationship. For a couple years I convinced myself that I was doing “well enough” and that things would get better with time. In my circumstances it didn’t, and I now attend therapy weekly to address the trauma I experienced. This is not only critical to myself as a person, but it is vital to my role as a good mother to my daughter and partner to my husband. The levels of stress I was experiencing were wearing on my marriage, and having a newborn did not make things easier. I noticed that on the days that I was tired (which was almost every day), I didn’t have the strength to keep my demons at bay. Addressing my mental health is one of the best things that have done for myself, and I’ll continue to work on recovery.

Unfortunately, as valuable as my therapy sessions are, I wouldn’t count them as a mini-vacation. I know that I still need a hobby of sorts to give myself a break from all my obligations and worries. As much as I would love to be on a beach, sipping cocktails handed to me by beautiful servers, that is not in my near future.

I’m a city girl in a farm world. 

I live in an area where I simply don’t like to do what is available. It is rural farm and wine country, and to some that is haven. To me, rural is so incredibly effing boring. I don’t like to camp, or fish, or hike. No thanks. Of course, there are “fun” wine-and-paint opportunities but no one wants that mess. I’m sure I would be removed from the festivities, since one glass of wine would cause distraction, and anything more would cause disruption. One drink knocks me over, and tequila also may or may not make me bite? But that’s a story for another day.

My realistic idea of self-care would involve exploring parts of a bustling city, new exhibits in a museum, or even a night out downtown when the mood strikes me once or twice a year. Access to adult dance classes that aren’t mediocre, or a gym with childcare that wasn’t a 30-minute drive would be nice. However, I live in the middle of nowhere, so good luck to me and my pickiness of hobbies.

Making the best of it.

So right now, my self-care involves home workouts, most with my daughter present. The gym was a great stress reliever when I was younger, and still is. I love the feeling of a good workout, and although it isn’t a perfect fix, I have already noticed an improvement in how I feel in general. Yes, my daughter is still rolling around, which sort of invalidates what should be “me time”, but that’s ok. I’ve also been reading more, which is a good escape. The point is, I’m trying, and I will continue to try to find an activity that amuses me.

Self-care doesn’t have to be complicated. Sometimes all you need is a hot shower or a long soak in the tub to feel refreshed. I’m tapping into guided meditation to see what that does for me. Other times I put Hallie to sleep and eat a pint of ice cream in one sitting. All I’m saying, is that you find something that soothes the stress of day-to-day motherhood.

Mom-guilt is too real.

As guilty as time for ourselves can feel, it’s better for both you and your family in the long run. Your kids will survive for the short moments you have stepped away, and you’ll be more present in the moments that count. It may not be a perfect situation, or anything close to a beach get-away, but even a few minutes is exactly what you need to keep that mom train going. What do you like to do in your quiet or kid-free moments?

Breastfeeding On Motherhood

Pumping at Work: It Can Get Weird

Getting Real with Kira Hazledine

Right now, I am blessed to be a work-at-home-mom. However, I did time in the workplace as a pregnant and breast-feeding mom. I was at work at 41 weeks on the morning of my induction, and I returned to work 6 weeks later (and yes, I cried every morning). While my employer was breastfeeding and pumping friendly (mostly), that didn’t make the workplace any less awkward.

My workplace was great in offering a private space to pump, but it was a conference room. This meant that I had to reserve this conference room at the same times every day, and if my own work schedule forced a deviation from this, it could mean an hour delay to wait for someone else’s meeting to be over. I learned very quickly the schedule of the conference room and would negotiate different times early to avoid full boobs (because ouch).

I also learned that my pumping schedule had to be a public notice on my own work calendar. Almost weekly my supervisor would ask for a quick conversation, or ask why I had declined a meeting with a colleague, or why I couldn’t help with something pressing. “I have to pump”. While the response was “oh, of course”, it was still awkward to have to offer regular reminders of “my boobs will literally explode if I delay this”. After a few months, you would think someone would catch on.

Despite this public notice, there was always something that would throw a kink in my schedule. I made the terrible mistake, only once, of wearing a dress that I could not zip myself. Stuck at work, I enlisted the help of a female colleague who told me to just text her when I needed zipped. No problem, right? Crisis averted, or so I thought.

Five minutes into my pumping session the fire alarm went off. I debated ignoring this interference, because it was probably a drill (which it was), but the nagging potential that it was a real fire had me pack up my supplies and pull up my dress. With all the dignity I could muster, I walked outside, unzipped. I had been delayed a few minutes, so the entire building witnessed my bare back and lacy red bra. With my head held high and a shrug, I walked to the previously mentioned female colleague, who was laughing hysterically as she zipped me up. My male supervisor blushed when he realized, and apologized profusely for not warning me about the drill. Luckily, I could laugh it off, but it was an office joke for quite some time. I went home at lunch and changed, lesson learned.

I could tell endless awkward stories, not limited to explaining how my boobs hurt and that yes, I was going to excuse myself from an unnecessarily long meeting due to said painful boobs. Why I should have to explain that is beyond me, but it was a position I was forced into quite often. I was also asked “how long do you think you’ll need the conference room?” and other judgmental questions. “For as long as I decide to” was my answer.

I do appreciate my employer offering the time and space, because I know other women are not so lucky despite the laws in place. However, I do wish there was more understanding of pumping. If a male employee happened to catch me on my way to rinse out my breast pump supplies, they would quickly avert their eyes as if I was actually holding my bare breasts in my hands. It’s only milk, I promise, and it is nothing for anyone to be ashamed of. I wish I didn’t have to explain, but I’ll explain a million times over to help spread awareness. If my sass can help another woman pumping at work, I’m more than happy to speak my mind.

Not every person has the confidence that I do, and these instances could have discouraged another woman from pumping for her baby. Pumping goes in the same category as breastfeeding, which is none of anyone else’s business. Employers need to be more respectful of pumping moms, and pumping moms, you need to know your rights. Pumping at work can get weird, but it doesn’t have to be awkward. Pumping is your reality, and you’re allowed to own it.


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Creating Balance Self-Improvement

Overcoming Obstacles and Learning to Love the Present

Getting Real with Shadra Bruce

Would you have ever guessed that life would bring you to the moment that you’re in? Life never turns out as expected, and if it had, I might have been retired on a yacht somewhere in the South Pacific. Instead, I’m working diligently to grow a business, and supporting adult children that I thought would be moved out. I was sure that, at this point, I would only have one of five children in my household, yet three of my children, plus a son-in-law and grandchild, live here too. I’m in no way complaining – I absolutely love my full household, especially the time spent with my granddaughter, but I did imagine a lot more traveling at this point in my life.

I’m sure many of you are in a similar position, whether you planned to retire and instead you’re raising grandkids – or you thought you’d never have kids and you ended up with five. Or maybe you thought you had all your children, but now you’re faced with a positive pregnancy test at age 40. Maybe you’ve been laid off of the job that was supposed to set you and your kids up for life. Everywhere around me, friends are adjusting their expectations, prolonging or changing their work, putting off retirement or redefining what retirement will mean, or even leaving work to care for children (or parents), and reevaluating what they want out of life.

How do you get through these tough moments?

It’s easy to get stuck in a negative spin when things don’t go the way you think they will, but you know what? Every single time my life has gone in an unexpected direction – divorce, move, job loss, client loss – it has turned out so much better than I’d ever imagined. So now, when I feel like things are spinning out of my control, I stop for a moment and simply be grateful. I am here. I am alive. I am fairly healthy. I have a family I love. Tomorrow, anything could happen to take me away from all that I have, but as of right now, this is the life that I have and I am grateful for it. And as long as I have the opportunity of today, there is no obstacle I can’t overcome.

Prioritize what’s important.

Rather than wonder – or regret – what might have been, I choose to focus on the present, be hopeful for the future, and make decisions now that will improve tomorrow. I am a strong advocate of work-life balance, so that I don’t finish my work-day or work-week wishing I had spent more time with my family. The dirty laundry will still be there tomorrow, and so will that detailed report that needs finished. I want to end each day knowing that I prioritized the people and relationships that are important to me.

This isn’t a revolutionary idea, and you’ve likely heard it all before from somewhere else. What I’m asking of you, is what are you doing about it? Are you internalizing the message?

I didn’t come by success and happiness by sheer luck. I chose to put my own self and my family first, to enjoy my life as it is right now, and this is the attitude that has made my business successful and my family content. I acknowledge that obstacles in my path are as much a part of life as anything else, and some things I don’t have any control over. However, by exercising good choices over what I can control in my life is how I overcome whatever adversity comes my way.

Your attitude determines your outcome.

Whether you are trying to build a business, raise a family, or get your kids through college, the right attitude will help lead to success in life. You are capable of reaching any goal, and no matter what you are trying to achieve, you have to be stubborn enough to keep going. Remember, even Thomas Edison failed a thousand times to invent a light bulb, but once he figured it out, his invention transformed the world.

So how do you get on the right path?

First, have a plan, and then accept that not everything will go according to that plan. It’s frustrating, but as a mom, you know better than anyone else how something can change in a moment. Success comes from the passion behind your choices, the flexibility to handle change, and the determination to overcome any obstacle.

I’m not where I thought I would be, but I love where I am.


Creating Balance On Motherhood Stress Management

I’m With You

Getting Real with Megan Gregory

To the mom who is ignoring her screaming child in the cart at the grocery store – I’m with you.

To the mom who is overwhelmed and crying in her closet because she hasn’t been alone in years and needs five minutes to breathe – I’m with you.

To the mom who turns on cartoons so she can accomplish one thing on her daily to-do list – I’m with you.

To the mom who wears the same rotating set of four outfits because she still hasn’t gotten her body back – I’m with you.

To the mom who wants to take a day off but feels guilty about doing it – I’m with you.

To the mom who wants to have a healthy household but can’t afford it or find the time to create it – I’m with you.

To the mom who knows she should feel happy when her baby is born but feels consumed by darkness instead – I’m with you.

To the mom who is proud to be able breastfeed her baby but feels trapped by it – I’m with you.

To the mom who is constantly surrounded by energy but feels alone – I’m with you.

To the mom trying her very hardest every day but feeling like she’s coming up short – I’m with you.

Motherhood comes with many beautiful and magical things, but it’s not always so sparkly, and you’re not alone.  I see you, I feel you, and I am with you.


Parenting Pregnancy and Your Newborn Raising Healthy Kids Toddlers

How to Spot a First-Time Mom

As a new player in this game we call parenting, I have done some stereotypical first-time mom things. Not that I feel bad about any of that, because my daughter did not pop out of the birth canal with a manual in hand. Sure, there’s a ton of parenting advice but it’s all rather vague. Milestones can happen within a 6-12 month period, and “every child is different,” so even your pediatrician is unlikely to know what the heck is happening. We are all just guessing here.

So for funsies, I’ve put together a quiz that will help us spot the first-time mom.

  1. Your child hits their head on a sharp corner, leaving a bruise and a small indent. What do you do?
    1. Rush your child to the ER
    2. Solicit opinions from various family members and then stay up all night watching for signs of concussion
    3. Put some ice on it and cuddle your child close while you cry about how sorry and neglectful you feel
    4. Tell your child they’ll be alright and if they had only listened to you the first time they wouldn’t be hurt

In all honesty, I’ve done every single one of these things. Hallie is an adventurous child and she spends a great deal of time flat on her face because she won’t stay still. She is convinced she can run, climb, and jump whenever and wherever she pleases, and there are natural consequences. I do my best to keep her contained, but accidents are going to happen despite a watchful eye. Just last week, I rushed Hallie to the ER because she did indeed smack her head, resulting in a very frightening indent. However, even in the waiting room she was trying to climb the tables. She was fine, and I was sent home feeling foolish but relieved. Luckily, I had a very kind nurse who admitted to doing the same exact thing with her kids almost every time they had a scary fall.

  1. At the playground, your child decides it’s a great day to taste some dirt for the first time. What do you do?
    1. Run right over with sanitizer for their hands and scrape the dirt off their tongue
    2. Whisk your child home for a bath in hopes that the germs will be cleansed away
    3. Offer a different snack and drink to deter the eating of dirt
    4. Consider dirt a snack and call it a win

Although I don’t consider dirt a snack, I have let Hallie enjoy a bit of dirt when my hands were full and she had already maxed out my patience levels. Obviously, it was not a snack she enjoyed and she scraped it off her tongue herself. I’m hoping that was a lesson learned, but I wouldn’t be surprised to find her eating dirt on a future occasion. I will be there to at least wipe her hands and offer a veggie stick instead.

  1. You are at a play center, and you know for a fact that one of the children present has a cold. They sneeze and drool all over a toy, and you see your child promptly pick up the same time moments later and put it in their mouth. What do you do?
    1. Pick your child up immediately and scold the other mom for bringing a sick child
    2. Wash your child’s hands and leave to play with germ-free toys at home
    3. Offer a different, hopefully untouched toy to your child and monitor more closely
    4. Think of it as a free vaccine to help build your child’s immune system

I do agree that sick children should typically be kept home, but a cold is relatively harmless. You can’t possibly protect your child from every germ, and it would be stressful to try. Although I wouldn’t be thrilled with Hallie licking the same toy that has been sneezed on, I would simply redirect her and hope she doesn’t get the cold. If she does, it certainly wouldn’t be the last. I would hate to be expected to keep Hallie locked up for a small cold, as if she (we) wouldn’t be miserable enough!

Reality check. There is no way to spot a first-time mom. Every child is different, every circumstance is different, and parenting is hard. We have all had public and private moments where we just feel we can’t handle another incident. If you see a classic mom moment, offer a word of encouragement. Nothing has inspired me more than a mom who has commiserated with me, even for the briefest moment. It’s too easy to mom-shame these days, which is why we need to remind ourselves that we have all been there, and a kind word is always appreciated.

Parenting Stress Management Toddlers Travel

What Moms Need: Encouragement, Not Judgment

Getting Real with Megan Gregory

On the plane, before the meltdown

It’s happened to me twice: My kid had such an epic meltdown in public that a stranger felt compelled to comment.

Parenting in public is a strange phenomenon because people stare, people judge, but occasionally we get my favorite people – the encouraging people.  The encouraging people are the ones who only intervene to offer emotional support to the parent, and it seems to come at the most needed moments.

The first time it happened was last year. We took our son, who was two at the time, on his first plane ride. We were going to the east coast for about a week and decided to make it a family adventure. Now let me tell you, I am a rule follower. I made sure to read all of the rules about traveling with a toddler, called the airline to verify I understood what I was reading, and planned accordingly. What I read and then verified on the phone, was that it was mandatory to bring my son’s car seat on the plane – and use it.

I had never seen this done, and I genuinely thought it was a mistake.  I had never seen those already-overloaded parents also juggling a car seat through the airport, but I figured it must have been a new rule, and I wasn’t going to be denied entry onto the plane because of it. So, we hauled our many carry-on bags, a stroller, our restless toddler, and the massive car seat across the airport. We begged the boarding gate attendant to allow us to board early, since we had to strap in the car seat and, luckily, they obliged – even though early family boarding wasn’t in their policy.

After securing the car seat, jamming our bags into the overhead compartments and shoving them under the seats, and strapping our son into his car seat, we pulled out books and toys to distract him during take off (which we heard was the hardest part).  Take off went smoothly, both for the plane and our son, and the first half of the flight continued without incidence.

But that’s where the ease ended.

Our son had started getting cranky and it became evident we were hitting naptime territory. Our son pulls a real Jeckyl and Hyde when he starts getting tired. It’s obvious (to us) that getting him to sleep is the remedy.  But, on a plane, my normal options to get him to sleep were limited. He was furiously kicking the woman in the seat in front of him (to whom I profusely apologized) and beginning to scream. I talked to him, sang to him, read to him, and finally – miraculously – got him to sleep.

Unfortunately, our plane was piloted by a man who thought himself to be both hilarious and a tour guide.  Every few minutes he would do a very loud ‘DING’ throughout the entire plane and then, in his amplified voice (practically yelling), he would enthusiastically point out we were flying over. If you looked out the window to try to see what the pilot was referencing, you’d be met with clouds, so the yelling ‘tour’ was not only annoyingly unnecessary, but woke up our son every single time.  By the fourth or fifth ‘DING’, our son was inconsolably screaming and my face was red with terror.  The ‘Fasten Seat Belt’ light was on, and I kept looking at my husband for a new idea to try to calm our son down….He had none.

I finally looked at my husband and said, ‘”Fuck it.” I unbuckled our son, wrapped him in his blanket, and took him to the bathroom. I tried to talk to him, splashed some water on his face, but he just kept crying. Someone knocked on the door – probably someone who actually needed to use the facilities, and so I walked out mortified and terrified. There was still 30-45 minutes left in the flight – and I was the mom with the screaming kid on the plane that everybody hates. It’s not like I wanted him to be so upset, and it’s not like I was letting it happen without trying to console him, but nothing helped!

We did end up having a great vacation

So I nervously paced up and down the aisle, bouncing our son up and down, whispering in his ear, and eventually he fell back asleep in my arms.  When I realized he was asleep, I felt like there was a silent applause from the plane.  I did it.  The misery has ended.  But then the damn pilot came on…’DING’…and announced we would begin our descent.  I looked down at my son, whose eyes had slightly opened because of the ‘DING’, and I looked at my husband who was just as nervous as I was, and I said “I don’t care what the rules are, I am not putting him back in that car seat.”  So as the plane gradually descended lower and lower towards the ground, I held my boy tightly against my body praying he would remain calm…and he did.

When the plane got to the terminal and people began rising to grab their carry-on luggage, I, again, apologized to the woman my son had been kicking.  But, the surprising part was the older woman who had been sitting next to her.  She turned around, her grey hair perfectly done, and said, “I just want you to know, I thought what you were doing when the plane took off was really impressive.  And we’ve all been where you are.” 

My eyes actually started welling up.  I had been so stressed and nervous and scared about ruining this flight for so many other people, and my son had screamed and kicked for so long, but this woman made a point to let us know it was okay.  As we started walking off the plane another passenger said, “You did good.”  This was exactly what I needed to hear.  I did good.  Being a mom isn’t being perfect, and believe me I have made many mistakes, but it really does take a village to raise a human being and I needed the other women and mothers to acknowledge my efforts and let me know they were with me.

The other instance of a grand public meltdown with a kind, encouraging stranger was much less traumatic and much more common: We were at the grocery store and my now-three-year-old wanted a particular brand of yogurt that had a character on the package that he loved. I reminded him I had just bought him yogurt and it was in the refrigerator waiting for him. He yelled back at me, “I don’t want THAT yogurt, I want THIS yogurt.” Poor guy. I am not the kind of mom who gives in to tantrums, particularly in public, so I simply said, “No.” He sat down on the floor and refused to continue shopping with me.  So, I slowly walked away.

Now, let me clarify, I would never actually leave my child behind and I would never walk far enough away as to allow anything bad to happen to him. But we were in the store, there wasn’t that many people around, and I was still in close proximity. The mere act of me attempting to leave him was enough to jar him and he came crying hysterically towards me. I reminded him that throwing tantrums is not the way to get what he wants and the tantrum was over. But, as I had been threateningly walking away, a woman looked at me and said, “I’ve been there.  You’re doing the right thing.” A little relief flushed over me. Truth be told, even if she didn’t agree with my method of handling the situation, at least she took a moment to encourage me and make me feel better.

That’s what we mothers need to do: band together to raise our babies to be decent human beings. 

I do not remember every one of my son’s tantrums, but I do remember these two specific instances when someone took a moment to build me back up during a meltdown. And the best part, I don’t remember how I felt during the meltdown; I remember how I felt being encouraged.

Sometimes the difference between an awful day and a wonderful day is someone else taking a moment to remind you that you’re doing a good job, even if you feel like you’re falling apart.