Choosing Compassion Even When It’s Hard


For the last three summers in particular I have made a conscious effort to not watch the news. Every summer we hear of a few deaths involving children left in cars when temperatures soar and that’s tragic enough. According to a USA Today article there have been approximately 800 hot car deaths in the last 20 years so I know there will be at least one or two stories during the short months of summer.

But sometimes, the comment sections, water cooler discussions, and play group chatter is what really is difficult to handle.

Choosing Compassion Even When It’s Hard | Duluth Moms Blog

I am 37. I am a college-educated woman who had a successful career around organizing large amounts of information at once. I could remember and recognize hundreds of ISBN’s for textbooks for four college campuses. I could do all of that while simultaneously running a household with three children and husband and coordinating all activities while cooking dinner and planning our menu for the next month. To say that I was an over-achieving, PTO president, super mom is an understatement.  

Along came Lucy.

Her birth was traumatic. Not just in every medical sense possible, but as it turns out, dying on the table and coming back changes who you are as a person. After her birth, I started realizing things were never going to be the same. First, when I left the hospital I didn’t recognize my husband and I didn’t understand why I had to leave with him. When we got to our home I would have told you I had never been in it before. I didn’t recognize my children. I cried in the bathroom because I was absolutely terrified, like countless horror movies we’ve seen. As months went by, it was clear that while some memory started to return, a large portion of it wouldn’t be.

It would take almost two years before I would drive with my kids in the car without my husband. Even now, three years out, I get really nervous. I have days I forget how to make a phone call. How to use my debit card at Target, how I got there, who is with me. Other days I’m quick as a whip and I can tell you what I was wearing the day I graduated high school. I can tell you about my wedding but I don’t remember it. I see photos so I know I was there and it happened but I have no emotional connection because it feels like I’m looking at someone else’s photo.

All that to say: I am that mom who could leave her child in the car and not realize it.

I’m a good mom. I love all four of my children. I attend all school things, I’m at every extracurricular activity, I try to do things with each one so they get special attention, I have chats every week to keep up to date on their lives, and I show them how loved and wanted they are. I’m a good mom.

I am diagnosed with short-term memory loss. I have cognitive impairment. It does not make me a bad mom. It means I am forgetful and I don’t even know when I’m forgetting something. If you try to tell me I forgot, I won’t believe you because sometimes I’m in denial because it is embarrassing to feel like I can’t do it on my own.

Choose Kindness and Compassion

I say this so that maybe you’ll pause before you make that quick comment about what an unfit parent someone else is: how dare they, what kind of mother could… , I’m tired and I never forget, I work 60-hours weeks and I’ve never come close to forgetting, or any other comment that attacks another parent. Please know they may have a legitimate reason. I get it, we’re angry and we’re heartbroken that an innocent child died because of a careless mistake. It may have only been a handful of minutes and oftentimes that’s all it takes. It’s not enough that that parent’s world descends into a lifelong nightmare, we want punishment. We want that child to have not died in vain.

I get it.

I know we live in a world where we are quick to judge and we’re quick to compare our circumstances to someone else, but that’s not a fair thing to do because no two circumstances are the same. We’re all beautiful and all different.

I challenge you. Before you comment, stop. Ask yourself what you can do to help. Did you know this parent? Can you show some compassion? Can you reach out? Maybe you know a mom with a new baby you can offer to watch kids so she can shop. Maybe you can let her nap. Maybe you can reach out to someone and ask how they are doing. It isn’t just new moms, it’s all moms. Dads too. It’s all of us. Every one of us is going to encounter a time in our life, maybe several, where we really need someone to reach out and help us.

Choosing Compassion Even When It’s Hard | Duluth Moms Blog

In a time with social media so prevalent how many of us feel comfortable posting, “I feel like I’m losing it, can someone please help me” on their page? We hesitate to get real. We’d be the talk of the next play group and we’d face judgement from other parents who seem to get by just fine. It’s a vicious cycle we’re in and we can do better.

The next time you’re at the store and you see a mom struggling with kids and it looks like she’s having a day, buy her a coffee or gift her a gift card to get herself a drink or treat. Help someone load their groceries. Maybe tell them that you get it and they are doing a good job. Check on that Facebook friend who just had a baby, or whose son just broke his arm. Offer to babysit for someone so they can take a nap, or go to a store alone, or even eat candy in their car in an out-of-the-way parking lot (because that brings me joy and I refuse to believe I’m the only one).

It takes a village. I’ve heard it my entire life. I live by it, and I try really hard to be part of the happy village for other people. What we don’t need are people standing on the sidelines happy to persecute but not happy to help out and be the solution. We can do it. Imagine a world where we were all helping each other up and showing compassion. What a world that would be!

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Sara Strand
Sara is a stay home mom (not a regular mom, a “cool” mom) of two teenagers and two elementary grade kids, who is always stressed out because one has their driver's license, one is a free spirit, one is fearless, and one is always in the clouds. In her “free time”, she is a book reviewer, dance mom, true crime podcast junkie, Dateline/Keith Morrison fan club devotee, and an Amniotic Fluid Embolism survivor. Always honest and sometimes funny, you can also find her at her blog, Stranded in Chaos (, where she shares good (and not so good) books, tales from mom life, recovery and life after birth trauma, and livin’ la vida loca after 40ish.


  1. I love this so much on so many levels Sara. Yes, let’s get real with other moms. Let’s get so real, it’s uncomfortable — dare I say, hard. We absolutely (including myself) need to stop judging other moms and instead support them. There are enough nay-sayers in this world. It’s time we stop the cycle and be the change we want to see.

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