To the Mom of the Screaming Toddler at the Park

You had a choice, you see, this morning in the sunshine at the park.
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I was watching as you took a deep breath, mama.

I stood just a few feet away as your son kicked and screamed with all of his might -- as conversations paused and heads turned towards the two of you, a duo between the seesaw and the swings.


I sensed your discomfort, your sweaty palms and racing heartbeat. And sure enough, I heard all about your son's discomfort, his sweaty palms and racing heartbeat, too.

But rest assured, mama. I did not judge you harshly. I do not judge you harshly. In fact, I have nothing but respect for you.

You had a choice, you see, this morning in the sunshine at the park.

You could have chosen to prioritize your own discomfort and the discomfort of those around you. You could have chosen to scare or shame your son into conforming to strangers' expectations. But instead, you simply stayed firm in your spot between the seesaw and the swings, kneeling beside your boy with your arm around his shoulders, helping him to work his way through his Big Feelings.

Because we all have Big Feelings, right?

I know I do, and my daughter does, too. They hit like a wave and sweep us off our feet (and not in a good way).

I know I do, because I've felt like crying or screaming or maybe even both simultaneously at least three times this week already... and it's only Wednesday.

Big Feelings are, well, Big. They are all-consuming, sweaty-palm-creating landslides of utter chaos.

And our children are, well, small. So when Big and small meet, there will inevitably be some fallout to work through.

And that's what you did, park mama. You helped your son work through his Big Feelings. He didn't bottle them up or hide them away. He didn't hurl them at another unsuspecting toddler or passerby. He just let them go. And you were there to wave them goodbye.

So although I was watching, park mama, I was not judging harshly. I was celebrating, rejoicing, reaffirming. I was cheering on the inside, while my eyes smiled behind my sunglasses.

Because we always have a choice.

We can choose to let the hurt go.

We can choose to let the frustrations go.

We can choose to let the pain go.

And the goodbye ceremony won't always be an easy one... it will more than likely be loud and dramatic and involve plenty of staring strangers.

But perhaps there will be eyes that smile behind sunglasses, cheering you on as you bid those Big Feelings farewell.

"Mama, that little boy is having a hard time."

My daughter brought me back to The Now.


And then after a pause, with her huge eyes beaming: "His mama's there! His mama is helping."

"Yes, sweetie, she is."

Because being there while the Big Feelings leave -- and allowing them to flow away -- is something worth pausing to celebrate.

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This post originally appeared on Mama Bean Parenting.