To the mother I saw at the Mall before I became a parent.
I was leaving a store and you were there. You had a kid in tow, maybe 3 years old. Your son, in the moment we crossed paths, was have a terrible time. Flailing about in your arms, he was struggling to cope with his emotions. He undoubtedly wanted something or wanted to go somewhere and you told him no.
His screaming did not deter you. A fist inadvertently hitting your head or shoulder did not cause your temper to flare. You stood there, in the entrance to the store we were leaving, patiently holding your child tightly. Letting him work through his moment.
Your love did not waver or become conditional should he keep in his struggle. You did not threaten or exert force to end his tantrum. You held him tight in your arms, showing him it was okay. Exhibiting a calmness during his storm. A lighthouse for him to find the shore.
To you I owe an apology. As our lives briefly intermingled, I gave you a look. It conveyed a message. Control your child it said. For that look, however fleeting, I’m sorry. My journey is now where yours was when we met.
Staying firm in your decision while still embracing love and a safe space for your sons emotions takes remarkable control and patience. You displayed that, even in the judgement of public eyes. For that, you are incredible.
I would like to not only apologize, but thank you as well. For setting an example that I so vividly remember over 2 years later. It’s these small, brief encounters that ripple through society and make all the difference. Thank you. For it is possible you might have subconsciously aided in my gentle parenting journey.