Now that I’m a mom, I’m slightly more attuned to the moms around me than I was before. Moms with younger kids make me excited for another baby; moms with kids around the same age as my own give a sense of community; moms with older kids show me what's ahead. I usually err on the side of minding my own business when the mom seems to be handling things, but now that I understand the challenges, I recognize there’s more than a few things to say to a struggling mom to brighten her day.
Of course, I don’t always interject because, well, I know first hand that even people with the best of intentions can end up making a potentially frustrating situation, worse. Sometimes the only thing you really can do is nod in solidarity and move along. However, there have been times I’ve appreciated words from well-meaning strangers, and there are also things I know I’d like to hear. (I mean, assuming I can hear someone speaking at a regular volume if I’m struggling with my toddler in public. The chances of this are actually pretty slim.)
Still, I think it all comes down to support. I once had an awesome interaction with another mom in a restaurant bathroom, and pretty much all she said to me was, “I have five boys.” I was wrestling with my own son on the changing table, and she clearly understood my struggle. With just a few words she managed to convey a sense of understanding and encouragement. So, while not everyone has that exact same anecdote to offer, there’s plenty of other ways to show it: