To the mothers I judged before I became a mum,
I thought I knew.
But how little did I know.
To the mother who was on her phone in front of her children for a few minutes while she had her hands free, and her children restrained, without having to cook,
I didn’t realise how much you would have gone through to get to that point on your own.
How much you needed to escape for a moment.
How you had not been able to escape for the past 5 hours, 24 hours, 48 hours.
I realise you just needed a break.
And your phone was that for you.
To the mother in the middle of the mall with a screaming toddler in one hand, pushing an empty pram with the other,
I didn’t realise how stressful that would have been for you.
How embarrassed you would have felt despite telling yourself not to be.
How much of an effort it was for you to go shopping for something you needed for them, to end up leaving with nothing of the everything you packed in your abandoned trolley.
I realise it was out of your control.
Nothing’s ever really in your control in this season, is it?
To the mother who turned up late to everything and had to abort mission early, leaving your coffee untouched and muffin half-eaten,
I didn’t realise how unlike yourself you may have felt.
How disorganised and rude you may have considered yourself to be.
Or just how hard on yourself you may have been for thinking you were letting others down.
I realise you were superhuman to get there at all.
But you were a human too.
To the mother who was waiting in the McDonald’s drive through queue to get her children the happy meals she promised and herself a coffee, before dining in the car,
I didn’t realise that taking the easy option is all you can muster some days.
Or how hard it is to have a coffee in peace at the best of times.
Or that coffee, unfortunately, but realistically can be your lifeline most days.
I realise how hard it can be.
And how easy you made it look now.
To the mother who gave her children screen time while she caught up on nothing other than herself, ignoring the persistent screaming, and the mess, and all the things that needed to be done, for just a moment,
I didn’t realise how much you did for them, and just how much of you, you were sacrificing.
That you could easily have gone a week without doing anything substantial for yourself.
That you may not have been able to remember the last time you invested in you.
I realise how much you mattered now.
You were worth so much more than the moments you couldn’t always find.
To the mother breastfeeding her baby in a sea of people, skin exposed and fear hidden,
I didn’t realise just how reliant your baby was on you for nourishment, and for comfort.
Just how much courage that took, when it shouldn’t have had to take any courage at all.
Or how many other mothers fed their babies sitting on toilets or on cramped bathroom benches.
I realise now.
You were accommodating your baby and society all at once.
To the mothers I visited with homes filled with mess and ceilings covered with cobwebs,
I didn’t realise all of the doings behind the undoings.
Or the love and play and fun that went into keeping a home the way you did.
Or just how impossible it can be to maintain any order other than them coming first.
I realise you were busy loving them.
And that’s always the most important thing.
To the mothers I judged before I became a mother,
I’m sorry, I didn’t see you. Not really.
But I see you now,
Because I’m there now too.