The Universal Gesture of Parenthood

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Photo: Catherine Myman Kaplan

There are times when parenthood can seem terribly isolating. Moments where you feel all alone, hoping for a sign or gesture from other parents that you are not by yourself in this, that someone else understands. 

We have all been there. You are in public, your child is fine, the day so far has been uneventful when suddenly a tantrum unlike any other erupts. It could be anything, a sibling breathed on them wrong, you won’t buy them something totally impractical and ridiculously expensive, but now you’ve got to cope with the aftermath. 

Not only do you have to calm down a child who is yelling, crying, and doing that thing with their bodies that only toddlers can do where their bodies manage to be both stiff as a piece of cardboard and as limp as an overcooked noodle but you have to somehow pull off this challenging feat in the presence of strangers. 

Strangers that undoubtedly are judging your parenting skills and finding you lacking, otherwise why would your child be screaming like a banshee? Of course, we’ve been in the flip position too, watching a parent struggle with a child. We know how she feels, and you wish you could let her know she isn’t being judged. That we know she loves her child, even when they are behaving like a crazy beast. That we consider her a good parent having a rough time. 

Maybe we should all come up with some sort of worldwide hand signal that we can flash to other parents to show support and solidarity. Or maybe just give a sympathetic smile and offer a hand. And know that we’ve been there and will most likely be there again.

Catherine Myman Kaplan
Tinybeans Voices Contributor

Catherine lives with her husband, two daughters, and rescue dog. She can usually be found reading, compulsively volunteering at her daughters' schools, or glaring at an ever growing mountain of laundry.