About Me

 

 The greatest thing we can do is to show up for our lives and not be ashamed.

 -Anne Lamott

 

I'm a creature of the word, learning to tell my honest story.

I offer it here because telling stories is the road back home.

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Monday
Dec162013

A letter to all the people who discriminate against mothers with young children

Dear mother who rolled her eyes at my family in the grocery store,

When my six year old son ran through the produce aisle eating an orange and shouting, look at this yummy orange, Mom! he did not steal that orange.

It was a sample.

Why would you assume he stole it, and then give me the death stare?

And then point out my son to your middle-school aged children with a disapproving shake of your head? As if my son's supposed criminal activity was the perfect teachable moment?  "Pat yourselves on the backs, kids, that you never acted the way that hooligan is acting right now."

And to the other dear lady shopping in the dairy section,

when my 2 year old was screaming because he wanted a treat and Mommy wouldn't give him one, why did you stare in my direction (but not at my face) and then roll your eyes (as if I couldn't see you), and then push your cart away from me as though I had leprosy? 

I KNOW he is misbehaving. 

I am attempting to deal with it by NOT giving in to his demands.

Just to remind you: people, even little ones, are not robots. I cannot MAKE my 2 year old behave the way I want him to in a grocery store. 

I am stuck in a lose/lose situation.  If I discipline him in front of you, you might deem me an unfit mother and call Social Services. This is a real threat felt by most mothers I know.  We cannot do our job because someone, who has absolutely no context for the way we parent, might disagree with how we do our job and call the government, and then the government will come and take our children away. Does any other person doing their job feel that kind of imminent threat?  If I do NOT discipline him in front of you, I am still an unfit mother, the kind who lets her kids walk all over her, and who obviously shouldn’t be out in public disturbing the general peace.

Dear lady at the Friends of the Library book sale,

the aisles are very small, and the boxes of books are spilling out onto the floor, and my double stroller, even though it’s the kind where the seats are stacked on top of each other instead of side by side, is admittedly a tight squeeze. 

But did you have to shoot daggers at me, harrumph, roll your eyes, smack your lips, and generally make me feel like shit for trying to buy books in the same aisle you were standing in, for God’s sake?? My kids weren’t even misbehaving. They were sitting in the stroller eating veggie fries. 

Maybe that was a double offense in your mind: crowding the aisle and making crumbs in the presence of sacred literature.

And you are a book lover. Somehow, that equates in my mind to a person who is enlightened as to the nuances of human behavior, someone who would never dog-ear the pages of a book let alone make a child (or a mother) cry, someone with a sense of shared humanity.  I choose to give you the benefit of the doubt.  I assume you are a kind person, because you love books. It's not even that- I just like to believe that people are generally kind and well-meaning.  Could you try to do the same for me?   

I know I am not overreacting, because I actually called you out on it. I said (to the back of your harrumphing head), EXCUSE ME, that was SO RUDE.  You did not turn around.  

But a nice Grandma, a true FRIEND OF THE LIBRARY who saw the whole thing, said, Oh my goodness, that was terrible. That was so rude. And I almost cried.

I ALMOST CRIED because someone took my side, and told me to keep shopping for books because I deserved to be there just like anybody else did.

Dear person waiting in line at the post office,

the post office is the WORST errand to run with children.  I don’t know how to corral my kids while I hold packages while I hold my place in line.  And today, the line was twenty people deep, with two people working at the desk. I know my kids shouldn't be running up an down the hallway, but did you need to discipline them for me?  I don’t tell you how to do your job. I don’t figure out where you work, barge in, and start rifling papers on your desk and suggest that you could do it better, that your time and spatial management systems suck.  That you are failing in some way.

Because I am already well aware that I am failing. To quote my best friend, like any creative profession, failure is built in to this job. 

I am well aware of the ways I fall short every single day as a mom. I know I could be reading with my 7 year old more, going on dates with my 6 year old so he doesn’t feel lost in the chaos, doing creative crafts with my 3 1/2 year old little girl, and playing ball with my 2 year old instead of cleaning the house because these moments fly by and one day I will wake up and they will be grown and gone...

There is always more I could be doing.  I see the gaps between my hopes for the day and the way the day shakes down. I go to sleep with a ticker tape of unmet needs and unfinished chores rolling through my brain.

But there is no manual for this job. We are talking about raising human beings here. How could I possibly get it RIGHT? Get it PERFECT?  And if those were my goals, I don't think I would actually be much of a mother. More like a puppet master.

 

We stay at home moms are in a generally thankless occupation.

Yes, sometimes our kids tell us we are the best moms in the world, and when they do, we truly do feel like the best (and the luckiest) moms in the world. And maybe our husbands really do verbalize their appreciation, or bring home random bouquets of flowers.

But we don’t get a work Christmas party where we get to dress up, or Christmas gifts from appreciative children, like my husband does who teaches school. We don’t get evaluations from bosses, or progress reports, or raises.

We don't get feedback or commendations from co-workers, or lunch breaks and happy hours when we can commiserate and laugh, and release the pressure valve. For the most part, we probably don't talk to other adults at all during the day.

What I get, like this morning, before I even made it to the post office and the grocery store, was my 3 1/2 year old yelling at me, BE QUIET! I DON”T WANT TO TALK. I AM NOT A DAUGHTER ANYMORE, MOM!

I get my 2 year old trying to smack me in the face, and chucking his sippie on the floor because he’s two. He doesn’t need a reason. 

No one else in my life talks to me this way.  If a grown up treated me like this, I think I could call it abusive.  Or at the least, totally disrespectful.  And it is disrespectful. But these kids are 3 1/2 and 2.  They are willful humans, and they show it. And my job description is to beat it out of them.  Just kidding.  Don’t pick up the phone to call the man. 

My job description is to diligently train them up out of the muck and mire of their humanity, give them tools to handle their explosive emotions, teach them how to be respectful and kind and believe the best in people.  And in the meantime, love the bejesus out of them, even when they act like they hate me.  

It does not make it easier to do my job when I am treated like a pariah when I go out in public.  It does not make it easier for me to teach my kids about kindness, either, because they notice how you treat us.

It makes me want to quit.

Maybe you think, Well, tough shit. You chose to stay home with your kids, so stop complaining.

Besides the fact that if I went back to work right now, I would be LOSING money on daycare expenses; besides the fact that for my entire span of parenting, I HAVE been working, only it's been at home, teaching from my computer; besides the fact that I value staying at home with my kids, and have made the personal sacrifices to follow through on what I value in this season; why do you assume you know my life, and have the right to judge me? I don't judge you for the job you chose to do. And neither do I base your worth as a person on the tiny thirty second window glimpse I get into your life.


I know I’m not the only one feeling like this, because the other morning, I drove to a stranger’s house to pick something up from Craigslist; I told my daughter to stay in the car and not unbuckle her seatbelt while I ran up to the front door.  She unbuckled her seatbelt anyway, and as I was addressing her disobedience in front of my Craigslist stranger, this mother commented (as her two kids ran out the front door),

Do you feel like a broken record?  

Yes.

This job of staying home with kids is like saying the same thing all day every day and never feeling like you are getting anywhere. 

I know, she said. I think to myself, I have a degree, I have skills, and this is what I get? Little people who don’t care, don’t listen, don’t thank, and no other grownups around to encourage me

We smiled at each other- just saying it out loud, even to a stranger, made it all feel a little less futile. We are in this together.  Me and my Craigslist buddy. 
We are trying to do the best we can, all alone in our houses, with no nanny cams to prove what our day was like to our husbands; no bosses, no co-workers, not even a nanny.   Just me, and a God who says he sees what is done in secret and will reward me. A God who says, do not grow weary in doing good because in due time you will reap a harvest, if you do not GIVE UP.  
Maybe this is stating the obvious, but if someone tells you DO NOT grow weary in doing good, it stands to reason, that doing good is a WEARYING thing to do, right?  

I called my husband and told him, I need you to tell me I am doing a good job. Because if I know you think I am doing a good job, I can handle the sense of pervasive inadequacy and futility.  I need you to remind me we are in this together, and that it's WORTH IT. Cause I am having a BAD DAY.

I had my sunglasses on, but my 3 1/2 year old could still tell I was crying. We were parked outside the post office, after strangers disciplined my children, and I’d told her not to unbuckle.  But she unbuckled anyway, scrambled over the seat, and crawled in my lap to give me a hug.  

I rubbed her back. I breathed. My husband told me I was doing a good job.  I chose to believe him even though I didn't feel like it was true.  

So, dear everybody who feels the need to make me feel like I am somehow doing this WRONG because my kids are human and don’t always show up with their game faces on for life, I’m not saying you have to enjoy kids, or even like them. I’m not saying you have to smile at me, or, even better, pat me on the arm- human touch is so comforting- but if I am somehow infringing on your personal space and freedom, could you give me the benefit of the doubt?

That I am doing my very damn best to try and love my kids no matter what, and that I just don’t get a whole lot of encouragement in this area, and instead of rolling your eyes, could you just walk past me? Just let me stay oblivious to your disdain?  

And to you, the woman in Goodwill, who came over to me when my 2 year old was throwing a massive temper tantrum, and kindly placed your hand on my arm and suggested I get him a toy because that’s what you used to do with your kids to distract them, then you ran down the toy aisle and grabbed something age inappropriate to give my 2 year old, which he promptly threw on the floor; thank you.  Thank you for caring. Thank you for touching my arm without pulling on my shirt to ask me for something. Thank you for a kind word and a smile. Thank you for not judging me.

Thank you for the reminder that we are all in this together, and that it all works so much better when we help each other out.

Love,

one frazzled mommy 

  


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Reader Comments (18)

You are one amazingly strong human being! I enjoyed this immensely.

December 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJayla Rae

Jayla Rae! So good to hear from you, my writer friend! Thanks for reading!

December 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTrinity

Not trying to criticize, as I don't know you. My mom stayed home. Errands were completed (unless it was buying shoes) after our 730 to 8pm bedtime while MY FATHER kept watch. It did not take hours. This was grocery shopping and such. Then he would watch us a few more hours on the weekend while more errands were done kid-free and quickly. Yes, I am the woman who lets you in line in front of me at Target, because I see you are overloaded. But I am also the one you likely think should not roll my eyes because you rammed me with your giant stroller.

December 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSolution? question?

I had to comment since I AM that eye-rolling bratty non-mom in Target being Judgy Judgerson. It's not that we think your children need to be perfect. We simply think they need to stay home. Not only for the public's sake but for yours! Run your errands in peace! Stop off to get a mani/pedi and let some high school girl named Brittany make an extra $7. Also, we think that if kids are so overwhelming, why do you have so many? No that, like, you should sell them into white slavery or something, but we can't help but think "You did this to yourself--why do WE have to be the ultra tolerant ones??"

December 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLyle

Lyle you said what a bunch of us were thinking. I was just wondering were the husband was outside of working hours? His job does not end when he punches out on the timesclock at work, or taking the garbage out, or mowing the grass. I assume it was his decision as well to have 4 children. It won't hurt him to spend a day or evening alone with them, while you run errands without almost crying.

January 1, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSolution? question?

The token conservative Christian at our book club showed us this website. It is truly amazing how someone so overwhelmed with her husband and children actually has the time to blog about themselves so much. I'm guessing you think your writing is so inspiring & wonderful that maybe a publisher will see it and you will be the next Jennifer Weiner. Advice: stop breeding, pay attention to your husband before he cheats on you again if he hasn't yet, and go back to work when all your kids are in school all day. It can be done. Women do it every day and have successful marriages and lives in general.

Wow..I'm surprised at the negative tone of some comments above. Book club lady, you are implying (if not out right stating) that Trinity, or any other woman for that matter, should not take time for herself...to have an outlet, to do something enjoyable. That by doing so, husbands will cheat?? What in the world? Where is this hatred coming from? Trinity has been given a gift and a talent for putting into written words, feelings that all mothers, wives, and women feel at some point in their lives. I am a full time, married, working mother of 2. I and every woman I know, at times, has feelings of being overwhelmed, being pulled in a million directions, giving and giving, and internally wishing for a temporary escape. These feelings don't mean that we do not also feel immense joy and satisfaction in being a mom and wife. Trinity's blog reflects her reconciliation with the dichotomy of these opposing feelings. Would you be more supportive if she were knitting or painting as an outlet, as opposed to blogging. Book club lady, you clearly take time for yourself by being in a book club and have friends in the book club. Would this be a more suitable outlet for Trinity? I just don't understand your point, and I don't understand women not supporting other women. The first time I read Trinity's blog, my first thought was, "this girl needs to write a book". I hope she does, and is incredibly successful and that it is read and praised in book club lady's book club.

January 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAshley

I have 3 kids. So do most of our book club people. And work. Not everyone in it does. 2 -3 hours once a month to actually discuss a book. Not complain about how hard life is because I had too many kids too close together. We talk about how the book, mostly classic novels can inform and inspire and have lasting effects on our lives today. Everyone has a sad story. Hers in not that sad. Good luck to this woman, sounds like she needs it! Writing & publishing is like trying to become a rock star. Many insipid books on ny Times best seller list. Many wonderful others on the 99¢ shelf, even if they make it that far. Good luck again!

Here is some support. Keep seeing your therapist. Take Zoloft, it isn't poison. Worry about you. Stop asking your husband for his constant approval. He sounds a lot like my 1st husband. Who despite me being severely depressed after I had my twin boys also did not want me to 'talk about our private problems with a 'quack' or my girlfriends' or take that crap 'Zoloft'. Despite for the first year I did not smile, cut my hair, shaved once a month, did clean the house and take care of things on maternity leave.....he had been having an affair! With actual sexual intercourse. Not for lack of me attempting to be affectionate before, during and after pregnancy. After he refused to go to anymore therapy after 2 sessions, I went through his bank statements, his wallet, his phone and laptop. Then I took my Zoloft called my therapist and an attorney. I met husband 2 4 years later. I go to therapy still and take Zoloft. I don't even feel like the same person, I'm so glad I was strong enough for me. So I good me a good mother and woman. He sees them every other weekend. Not always. He gets out of it a lot. I don't mind a bit. Our boys will figure it out when their older.

Book club lady - you clearly need to change your prescription. You are a bitter, angry, hateful and resentful person. I hope you can truly heal and move on from the bad things that happened to you. Because you're not just hurting an innocent blogger. You're not even just hurting yourself. You're hurting your children, who are "figuring it out" right now while they observe and imitate your behavior.

The majority of you commenters clearly missed the entire point of the entry, which is how hurtful it is when people judge and shame others. I hope you all have windex for the glass houses you are living in. If not, perhaps you can just run out to Target at 8pm after a long, full day and just pick some up.

Trinity - you are and always were an amazing person. There will always be hateful, spiteful people. And that's the bad news. The good news is that there are also kind, loving, considerate people who are willing to help instead of judge.

January 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKatie

Trinity, you may not remember me...I am a church planter in Colorado, and we met through 7th Year. I have never really read your blog but I saw your most recent one about capping the manhole. I am reading Daring Greatly by Brene Brown, and it's all about vulnerability. The fact is, you are putting yourself out there. You are sharing your life in the most vulnerable way possible. Those who comment cruelly and flippantly are doing the opposite of that...they choose to judge and criticize because, well, why not? They have the option of being vulnerable themselves, and choose instead to make other people feel "less than." I suppose it's a defense mechanism that makes them feel better about themselves.

I have had vicious things said to me this past week, and was left feeling bloody and bruised. I too wanted to just stop putting myself out there, stop giving my opinion, stop making myself vulnerable...in fact, I still haven't completely emerged. But here's the thing: the world needs you. We need your vulnerability and your example, even when other people have to retreat into their safe little defenses because they lack the courage to let people see them as they are: FLAWED. They're not fooling anyone, but apparently they want to think they are. Vulnerability isn't comfortable for any of us, but some of us have the courage to keep putting it out there and let people think whatever the crap they want.

Love you, sister. Keep at it. God is doing great things through you. And you have a new blog follower person thingy in me.

January 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLeila Ojala

Hi, Trin, we went to college together and since finding you on the book of face, I've dropped in to read your blog every once in a while. First let me say, you don't look like you've changed a bit, damn you! *shakes fist mock-angrily at the computer screen*

Like others, I read your Manhole post, which led me come read this one. And all I can say about the comments here is... Wow. The people who have left the negative ones obviously 1) have no idea what they're talking about, and 2) choose to take a negative outlook. Much like the rude women you mention from your errands. Their negativity takes up so much more energy than if they were more understanding or if they simply had a sense of humor, for Pete's sake! I mean really, how much more effort was it to huff and roll eyes and walk away rudely than just smiling and turning away? Embrace your inner Buddha, people!

But enough of these people who are wasting too much of your time and piece of mind.

Let me please just say, props to you for not giving into a tantrum in public. Doing so would've only taught that tantrums are ok, as long as other people see them. Props to you for having four, FOUR kids and still being mostly sane, for taking a shower every once in a while, for actually DOING errands, for taking the time to be creative and take care of You. Props to you for being upfront with your husband about what you need. Props to you for raising a kid who, even though you just reprimanded her, still climbed into your lap to comfort you because you taught her to care about people. Raising children is the most important and most thankless job in the world. No mother hears this often enough: YOU ARE DOING A GOOD JOB. We can tell that simply from this blog where you honestly confront life. No women who is able to do that would be able to do anything but pass that on to her kids. And that's the important thing here. Not yelling at inappropriate times. Not being messy. Those things will pass. It's the good stuff that will last. And from what I see, there's a whole lot of good stuff. Hug your kids and your husband. Love life.

January 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLaura Apelt

I am floored that book club lady and a couple more who have commented are so very useless. You don't have to have children to be useful, you don't have to admit when life is hard instead of pretending that you have your shit together (Oh, no. I said shit. Wanna judge me?) to be useful. You DO have to have your head on your neck instead of in the ground. I am a mother of two. It's a blessing, but not all blessings are simple or easy. This motherhood thing is damn hard (Oh, no. I said damn). Please tell me, oh knowledgeable ones, does the post office stay open until 8pm? And, yes, explain how I would procure medicine for a sick child in the middle of the day without leaving them at home or taking them with me. Mmm... and, since you are SO capable and the rest of us are clearly so slow and selfish, tell me when you spend time with your husband, if you're so busy getting all the things done when he finally gets home.
My husband is a pilot in the Navy. He's a stud. But he has spent a disgusting amount of time deployed, away from daddy duties, leaving me across the country from any helpful family. During that time, we lost a baby. On his second deployment, I had our daughter. He didn't meet her till she was almost 6 months old. Should he not have deployed? Was the very difficult time I had my own fault for believing the Navy when they said no double deployments and only telling us about the second when I was already pregnant? No, really. Tell me, all-wise and all-too-inconvenienced ones.
Or not. Let me tell you. It sucks to do it alone. It sucks to say goodbye to a baby BY YOURSELF and it sucks to have to wait for my husband to call so that he can experience his daughter's birth over the phone, because you can't skype from ships. But, you know what? Motherhood is equally as hard when he IS home. I spend just as much time wondering if I'm doing this right and if I'm choosing the proper method to train my children and if my very strong-willed son will get it and become a useful human. One who cares about others and doesn't pretend like he's got his shit together. Because no one does. And if my son says shit, but loves the people in line next to him with screaming kids, then I will be proud and grateful. I have been where you likely have not. And I can testify that mothering is hard work, no matter how hard or easy the rest of life is. But more than you disagreeing, because you are entitled to your opinion, however ignorant it may be, just consider how useless your comments really are. You're just slinging mud.

Oh no. I might say bitch.

January 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRebekah

Wow. I'm stunned by the comments and lack of compassion shown. Really? Moms are supposed to hold off on errands until evening hours, when they can go alone? No kids allowed in grocery stores? And your first thought is to frown or glare or mutter at a mom who is shopping with her kids and might accidentally bump into you with a stroller? (Gosh, I hope you don't end up in a wheelchair one day, needing to run errands.)

Trinity - I applaud you for writing about hard things, for being open and vulnerable, and for putting words to feelings that others have but can't express. You are an amazing writer with such a gift for expression. I always look forward to your posts and am glad you're not letting a few compassion-less people shut you down.

And I hope I run into you and your kids out running errands one day. It will be a pleasure.

January 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSheri

I stopped reading the ugly comments. It is sad that women are writing that mothers of young children shouldn't take their kids to the grocery store. Hahahahaha! Oh wow. So superior. It is tough to be a mom of young children, and yes, we do choose to have them, but how about some compassion? Maybe I bumped you with my stroller. I probably apologized. Maybe my son is acting up at the store. Is it really that big a deal to you? In that moment, maybe you could reach into your heart and look with kind eyes at a young mom struggling to teach her son. Maybe you could recognize that and have a little compassion. I know people have bad days. Eye rolls happen. But you took the time to be hurtful in someone else's blog. Someone else's outpouring of self. To be destructive. To be hurtful. Who does this help in the long run? Do you feel justified? Self-righteous? Maybe for a little bit, but then you have to realize that what you wrote hurt someone. Someone's blog who you chose to visit. In that vein, to the woman who asks why she takes so much time to write on her blog, I feel especially sad for you. Don't we all need a release from the day to day. This is her art. Her passion. Something just for Trinity. In our day to day life, having something, one thing, that is completely your own is precious. A gift. A treasure. I am sad for you that you don't have that, and must crush someone else's. I grow tired of people dragging other people through the mud. Placing judgement on lives that they don't lead. And before you call me a hypocrite, I am not passing judgment on you ladies. I feel sad for you, I want to have compassion for you. Maybe that is all you need. For someone to recognize that you are struggling, too. But it won't make you feel better to tear someone else down. Especially someone whose passion is to ignite connection and life in other people through her art.

January 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSWilson

Trinity,
I had three under three who are now ages 6 and under. Every time you share your struggles with mothering, I breathe deeper, knowing that there isn't something wrong with me. It's just hard. And my heart rests, less anxious. Thank you times a million for sharing your truth, your story, your heart. It's risky, and I'm thankful that you are both talented AND courageous. <3

January 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAnother mom

I wrote and never published a post just like this after a sweet stranger leaned over to my fighting children in the race car grocery cart and asked them if that was how princesses talked to each other. She is the first truly helpful person I've met in public since my son was born, and I very nearly cried. I have three kids, the oldest being 4, and people are horrible. Does no one realize that the annoyed look you shoot tells my children that their existence is an imposition?! Even when they are being good, my children are treated as a curiousity, their mom a mental case for having children close in age. It's hurtful. I'm glad you expressed your frustrations. I feel them too. Thank you for encouraging me today.

January 23, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKatie Ellis

I sure hope my kids don't grow up and read how tough & draining they were, and how I nearly had a nervous break down crying everyday running errands with them. Wow. No kids in the grocery store, I don't think that is what the other lady meant, more like....how about hearing about a father stepping up for a few hours so this lady can run her errands in peace....VERY PATRONIZING WOMEN HERE. I am not even trying to be ugly either. Maybe the blogger is a nice lady and great mom, but this writing seems to be endless complaining.....

April 30, 2015 | Unregistered Commenteranother motha'

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