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Did you SEE her? That mother across the street just screamed and freaked out at her child. Did you see how angry she was? Look at her! Whoa. Take it easy, Momma. The child just stepped onto the street and I think the car was far enough away that the child was not going to get hurt. Settle down! You totally over-reacted. I would never yell at my child like that.

Did you SEE her? That mother across the street just yelled at her child. Did you really see her? She was frightened. When she gets scared that something terrible may happen to her child, her fear mistakenly presents itself as anger. She once witnessed a small child get hit by a car and injured. She will never forget that day. When her child stepped onto the road, images of that accident came flooding back and escaped through her voice in a yell of desperation to save her child from harm. I have yelled at my children in fear as well. It is not pretty, but it has kept them alive and safe. That mother was really just trying to protect her child.

Did you SEE her? I don’t even know why she bothered to come to the park today. She is just sitting there like a zombie. She isn’t talking to anyone and she looks like she hasn’t slept in days. She isn’t even playing with her daughter. She is just staring at her while she swings. It’s kind of creepy.

Did you SEE her? At least she was able to muster enough strength and energy to bring her little girl to the park to play today. She is trying her best to “keep it together” but it is hard since she had a miscarriage last week. She has cried herself to sleep each night and her heart aches so much that even simple things seem hard. Yet she knows life carries on around her. She stares at the beautiful little girl she has, thinking about the sibling she almost had. It’s heart-breaking.

Did you SEE her? Actually I never see her. She lets her child run around outside by himself every day. She is never outside supervising him. What if he gets hurt? What if he needs something? What kind of parenting is this?

Did you SEE her? Actually, she is watching her son from the kitchen window the entire time while she washes the dishes. She believes in fostering his independence. She has the windows open so she can hear him as well. He comes in the house when he needs her. He is learning to play independently and gaining confidence every day. This is her style of parenting.

Did you SEE her? Look at that mother…

Sometimes I am the first voice; the voice of judgement and shame. I don’t like when I hear this voice. This voice needs to be silenced.

Sometimes I am the second voice; the one who tries to find the good in her. I try to think of her story and to understand her actions. Sometimes I actually know her story and I remind myself. Other times I make up her story to help change my view of her. I try to relate to her on some level and remember my own flaws instead of pointing out those flaws in her. I want to hear more of this voice.

If we all heard more of the second voice, we might look a little softer at each other.

Be the second voice. Change the dialogue in your head when you look at other mothers. Tell yourself her story. Find the good in her. Don’t just see her – SEE her.

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