Updated: Feb 10, 2019
In #Pittsburgh, there is an area of the city called the #StripDistrict. It's a strip of multiple blocks where, at certain times, the stores all put tables out on the sidewalks, you can get lots of homemade goods and fresh foods, and there are yummy restaurants too. It's a fun place to go on a Saturday morning to pick up some goods, shop around, and if you're like my husband, try coffee at all the coffee shops.
Recently, we decided to take our 6-month old, Gideon, to the Strip for a Saturday morning family outing. We put him in his stroller and walked around, browsing and eating. He loved observing the hustle and bustle of everyone around him. We were there for hours, and he did so well! He even took a few naps in the stroller...every mom's dream!
We were browsing in a woodworking shop, and I was just pushing Gideon around. He would look up at me and I would talk to him saying things like, "Ooh, look at this nice wooden table, buddy. What do you think?" He would just smile or offer some babbles in reply.
A woman appeared out of the blue and thanked me for talking to my son, saying she always loves when she sees this type of interaction happen with a baby. She then proceeded to talk to him, and he smiled at her, then he'd look up at me, and back at her. She said she could tell that I was a great mother because he was a pleasant child who wasn't afraid of a stranger, yet was still very aware of where I was the whole time. Then she told me again that I was doing a great job, and walked away.
The comment by a woman I will probably never see again has stuck with me. It was a 30-second interaction, how could she possibly know whether or not I'm a good mother? About an hour later, my husband decided to walk a few blocks to find the gyro stand while I went to get us some ice cream. Turns out, carrying an ice cream in each hand and pushing a stroller with your wrists is not as easy as one might think. We also have a backpack diaper bag that can snap onto the handle bar, which is nice, but adds extra weight to the back of the stroller. Long story short...we hit a bump, and the weight of the diaper bag pulled the stroller back. Since my hands were full, all I could do was use my leg to try and soften the blow of the stroller falling on its back all the way to the sidewalk. Gideon was fine and didn't mind, he was basically just laying down flat, safely strapped in. However, I was almost in tears.
I bet if the woman from the woodworking shop had seen that horrible display, she would've run up to me and said, "Please forget what I said earlier about you being a great mother, I was clearly wrong." Right? I've thought about it a lot since then, and I honestly don't think she would retract her kind words. I think she would've helped me pick everything up, given me a pat on the back and reassured me that I am still a great mother. How could I possibly think that, you ask?
Being a great mother isn't about being perfect, it's about love. What she saw in the shop was that I loved my son enough to talk to him even though he doesn't yet understand me and couldn't respond. She saw that he is a very pleasant little guy, and I'm sure she also saw the adoring way my baby and I look at each other. He is loved. I am very far from perfect, in so many ways, but my love for him is enormous.
I'm sure any child would give up clean clothes, new toys, and basically anything just to be loved. So if you love your kids, you're doing great, momma! They don't need perfection, they just need you.
And if you're in the Pittsburgh area, check out the Strip District!
~Ashley Bell, pediatric sleep consultant