I know I’m begging to be railed on (get it) by writing this post. I am the woman with the two screaming toddlers on the rush hour train. Direct all your rage toward me. I understand. I’ve been where you stand. I’ve seen moms and dads struggling to keep kids occupied and quiet whether it be on the train or the bus or a plane or a restaurant or a store. And I’ve been irritated and judgmental as I thought, why would they be out with those kids if they’re just going to scream? As if that’s what anybody wants. I didn’t stop to think that maybe they weren’t 10 times as irritated, both for themselves and for you. These parents feel awful that they are inconveniencing you.
I’ve learned through the years to try to imagine myself in other people’s shoes for just a second. It leads me toward compassion. It’s something I’ve learned through sobriety and now being a mom.
But I still get it. You just want to get home from work and here we are, a screaming, flailing, toy throwing Mardi Gras parade. Only without fun candy or beads for your trouble. Pull your shirts down, please.
The scene – 5pm on a Wednesday in downtown Chicago on the El train. Brown Line. Sardine packed car. You cannot imagine the sardine packed car unless you’ve been on it with a stroller and 2 1-year-olds. I did have the stroller in the handicapped/stroller area designated for such things, so I wasn’t on anybody’s toes. We were fine for the first 6 stops. Then the shitshow began.
The thoughts that were running through my head as we passed each stop were –
- We could get off and let them calm down a bit.
- I will hold my girl, who is really more upset and my boy can be sated while sitting in the stroller.
- God, I’m sweating bullets. If only I had a hand to loosen my scarf. Here play with mommy’s earring. OUCH.
- I ONLY HAVE TWO ARMS AND HANDS DAMMIT.
- If we get off, we will lose our prime spot as the train is 10 times more crowded now than when we got on.
- Please stop screaming please stop screaming please stop screaming. AH Yes. Thank you. Oh but now the other one. Here we go again.
- We could get a taxi. No we can’t, I don’t have car seats.
- DAMMIT. Let’s just go one more stop.
This was a one time thing for me, believe me. Never again if I can at all help it. I learn from my mistakes. And I take total responsibility for my actions. I chose to get on the train at that time and all I can say is I had no idea how terrible it would be. These babes have been on the train many many times, and been fine. But not at rush hour. It’s a totally different beast.
You can direct all of your rage toward me, but I will not absorb it. I will stand tall and do my best to quiet my children. I will apologize for the noise and thank you for offering to help. I will appreciate you picking up their thrown toys. I will be envious of your hands being empty for just a second instead of weighed down by babies and all the accoutrements. I will stand as a bad ass who HANDLED IT. I will not let you see me crumble.
But then I will get us all off the train and home. I will walk in and cry for just a minute. Then I will hug my babies and my husband and continue being grateful. We are home, we are safe, and I bet you will get over your obnoxious train ride home. Man, I’d love to see those tweets and Facebook statuses you posted about us.
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