What Kind Of Monster Uses A Child Leash?
According to an online Moms Group I’m a member of, only a monster would put their child on a leash.
It started out simply enough: a mom posted a question asking if anyone had ever used a child harness (a leash) because she was at her wit’s end. She had a six-week old baby and her toddler was a runner.
The comments she received ranged from “Who would use a leash on their child?” and “Here’s an idea, why not just watch your kid?” to everything in between. There were some comments in support of the mom, but those were few and far between. Essentially, the message she got was ‘you are a no-good, terrible, lazy mom for using a child harness to control your toddler’.
Walk A Mile In Someone Else’s Shoes
Confession time: before I had kids, that was my opinion, too. Who would EVER put their child on a leash?
After I had my first son, it was still my opinion.
After I had my second son it was also still my opinion.
Then my second son learned how to walk and, soon after that, he became a runner.
An epic runner.
Wherever we went, the moment I let go of his hand, he was gone as fast as his pudgy little legs could take him. Clips on his stroller were no match for his dextrous hands. God forbid I harboured the hope he would actually sit in a chair to eat his lunch.
Shopping malls, parks, grocery stores, parking lots… if for one nano-second I lost my grip or he wiggled his little chubby hand away from mine, he was off like a rocket.
Why are toddler hands so slippery?
I managed to get through this stage harness-free with my miniature version of Usain Bolt, but I considered it many, MANY times… usually while my face was still wet with tears from another excursion that ended with me chasing down my child.
While I never purchased a leash, my experiences gave me a new understanding as to why some mothers would.
It gave me empathy.
Until that moment I didn’t truly understand what another mom could be going through. How she probably had to mentally prepare each time she took her kids out in public because she knew at some point she would be racing to catch up with her little one or having to face down the stares of judgement.
How she must be at her wit’s end.
But even if she wasn’t at her wit’s end, and only wanted to use a child leash to make her life a little bit easier, so what?
Because each and every one of us will use some sort of crutch throughout our motherhood experience. At this moment in time, your life may be running smoothly so you will read this, shake your head, and adamantly declare, No I won’t. But I’m here to tell you that, Yes, yes you will.
We All Could Use Some Help
Maybe your crutch will be ordering groceries online so you don’t have to enter a supermarket with kids in tow. Or you have a house cleaner come in a few times a month. Or you decide to buy a super duper, double-action breast pump so your partner can tackle some of the late night feeds.
You have a babysitter come in once a week.
You hire a tutor because the homework meltdowns are wearing you down.
You purchase a baby carrier to keep your hands free.
You use a meal delivery service.
When my youngest was five months old I sent an email to my husband at work with a link and one sentence…
Do not come home unless you have this baby swing with you.
We paid about $100 for that swing, but I would have paid $10,000 for the peace it brought me during the nightly witching hours of 4:00 to 7:00 pm!
Whatever your crutch is, it will be unique to you. But what it will have in common with all the other mothers in the world is that it will make your life just a teensy bit easier for that moment in time. If it’s not when you have a newborn baby, it will be when you have a toddler, or a school-aged kid, or a teenager.
Because motherhood is a marathon, and marathons are exhausting. Those crutches? They are your fuel to help keep you going. They are your break in the day.
So the next time you see a mom doing something you wouldn’t necessarily do, remember that it doesn’t mean it’s wrong. It’s simply different. She doesn’t need your judgement because she’s probably already judged herself a thousand times over.
What she really needs is your empathy.
And it’s easy to give.
Sharon DeVellis is a freelance writer who has been featured both online and in print. She specializes in current topics relevant to parents with a dose of humour and humanity, as well as focusing on living a healthy lifestyle, and encouraging kids to be active. When she’s not writing, she walks dogs. Yes, it is pretty sweet. With the exception of birthing both of her children past their due dates, she has never missed a deadline.