A Young Mother on the Verge of Panic

A Young Mother on the Verge of Panic

The young mom in front of me in the corner-store line this afternoon had a toddler on her hip and a baby in her stroller. She told the corner-store owner in a near-whisper that that morning he’d mistakenly charged her for garlic. The owner looked at the bill, trying to figure out what had happened, and the baby in the stroller began to cry, and the toddler on her hip began punching her. I saw the mother becoming agitated, panicky, saying over and over in a shaky whisper: “This is impossible right now…”
And I remembered myself around 18 years ago buying popsicles for my 2 oldest daughters, then little girls, at a different corner store in our old neighborhood. I don’t remember why I was feeling so extremely anxious–whether I was pregnant or postpartum- but I was. Hadas and Hallel were fighting, and I was on the verge of panic. At the corner store buying popsicles and feeling like I was standing on a battlefield, under fire.
Each girl demanded a separate plastic bag for her popsicle, and I gave in. Whatever would get me out of the line of fire as quickly as possible. And then a young woman behind me, Hebrew-U-student type, said, “Geveret, you need to educate your children! They shouldn’t take 2 bags!”
And feeling attacked, and completely helpless, I spewed back with all the sarcasm and venom I could muster: “Thank you SO MUCH for teaching me how to educate my children!!”
Seeing that mother at the corner store today reminded me how awful that was. To be a young mother, with young kids so picture-perfect cute, and anxiety so debilitating. Wondering how all the moms (clearly, except me) seem to be juggling everything-marriage, kids, pregnancy, home–and still seem to be calm, happy, enjoying themselves even.
This afternoon I got out of the line to rock that overwhelmed mom’s baby, to calm the baby down (with no success). But what I really wanted to do was wipe away that mother’s tears and tell her, “I used to feel what you’re feeling now. And I want you to know that motherhood gets easier and that you are not alone.”

2 comments

  1. This made me chuckle. Today I rushed to the store as quickly as I could, with a crying baby and tantruming toddler, very conscious that thanks to Covid in our area people tell you off for taking kids to a shop (it’s legal but discouraged), knowing that I had to take them because we needed breakfast then and they are too young to stay home alone. And of course there were issues with the payment and I had to wait for a member of staff to come and help, while feeling all eyes on me and my mask misting… Oh well. Once you’ve been there at least you will hopefully not tell a mum that she has to “educate her children”!!!

  2. Your line “kids so picture perfect cute and you with debilitating anxiety” brought tears to my eyes.. thank you for sharing this and letting every young mother know she’s not alone. That was me a couple of years ago with my two adorable babies and me a total wreck on the inside though probably no one could tell from the outside.. Bh my babies are a little older now, I’ve had some therapy and Bh have another baby but I’ll never forget my first 2-3 years of motherhood and how incredibly amazing and precious yet horribly terrifying and anxiety ridden they were ..

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