To The Mom At The Park Who Kept Her Cool When My Daughter Didn't

by Regan Long
mom at the park
Regan Long

My heart sank.

As my friend called me over to the play area, the look on her face pretty much said it all.

I saw my just-turned-2-year-old sitting with her head hanging low next to your little boy. His cheeks were bright red, and tears were pouring.

The play area was quite crazy, and you hadn’t even yet realized what my little girl had done to your son. My heart was pounding, and my natural maternal reaction was to scoop your precious baby up in my arms and immediately come look for you.

I tried to console him as my eyes scanned the sea of mothers, desperately hoping that somehow the intensity of color in his cheeks that were just squeezed and clawed at would somehow go down before we found you.

As we connected eyes, you immediately reached to embrace him and comfort him in your arms. You didn’t judge me or my toddler — and I will be honest, I wouldn’t have batted an eye if you did.

My heart was sinking, as I knew your little one was in pain and scared. It was a safe assumption that his fun morning of playing was more than likely over.

My mind was racing. My sweet little girl who is so loving and kind can immediately flip a switch. Those hugs can turn to chokeholds, the cheek rubs can turn to pinches, and the hand-holding can transition to a pull or shove.

I could blame it on the stage she’s going through, as we are in the thick of the terrible twos (not that it makes it any better). I could think of where I must have gone wrong as she has done this before and clearly has not learned her lesson. I could run through several valid reasons for why this is normal or why this is uncalled for. And frankly, I just wished it wouldn’t have happened at all.

My group of friends immediately jumped in to help and gave me the go-ahead to take my daughter for a time-out while they watched my other daughter. I sat for two minutes holding my toddler, telling her how sad she made Mommy and how sad she made your little boy. I told her that after we sat in this time-out, we would immediately be leaving because she cannot hurt someone else like that.

As much as she is still oblivious that a lot of her actions have a reaction, she most certainly is old enough to realize that what she was doing was very wrong and that she should have stopped.

Parenting is not for the faint of heart. My girlfriend texted me (knowing I was mortified) after I left. She reminded me that being a bad parent is easy. Being a good parent, at times, is much harder. On days like today, I wish I could write my own edition of What to Expect: The Toddler Years.

But as I sit in tears, I’m so grateful you got it, dear Mama.

There are some days more than others when we are left feeling so helpless, and we question where we went wrong. We run through the scenarios in our head of what we could have, should have, done differently. And then other times, we make excuses and rely on some somewhat solid truths of stages and ages, all the while praying to God that everyone you encounter gets it.

Today you got it. You kept your cool. You didn’t judge me or point fingers at my sometimes disorderly toddler.

Today you understood that neither of us wanted to be in the position we were in, but you didn’t make it harder on me or on my daughter who made a poor choice.

Today, you showed grace and restraint when the “real deal” of parenting was fiercely real. Thank you, dear Mama, for being on the same team as me this morning, despite how hard it may have been.

Thank you for making this seasoned mama of four realize that my children are human and they will make mistakes. And I just pray to God that out of each one, we both come out of it stronger.