So, I had something happen to me Monday at our local grocery store that I can't stop thinking about. It's seriously not a big deal. I know, I should "Let It Go" as Elsa would say. And I am, but I have all these thoughts about it swirling around and I just need to get this out of my head and sharing it will help. So I thought I'd open up to my mom friends here.
Let me preface with the fact that I rarely take my kids to the grocery store with me. It's just so much more stressful, as any mom would probably agree. So my weekly routine is doing my grocery shopping on Sunday nights, alone. It's blissful. :) But every once in awhile I can't make it on a Sunday night, like this week. So I figured I'd just go with Remy after her gymnastics Monday morning. One kid in the store is better than two, am I right?
So after her class, I got us each a smoothie to tie us over until lunch and I figured it'd help keep Remy busy and quiet while I quickly got our dinner ingredients on my list. It started raining, so we both ran inside the store with our smoothies and I grabbed one of those "car carts." They're annoying, but they help keep Remy entertained and not grabbing groceries. I specifically grabbed the smaller one too because man, those suckers are hard to steer! They're like shopping cart "buses" if you haven't used one before. Well, I pushed it over to the "cart sanitizing station" to clean the cart off because I'm one of those moms and we'd all just had strep throat a few weeks ago, so yeah, avoiding anything else right now! I was trying to move the cart out of the way for people coming into the store and I bumped into the sanitizing station and knocked the bottle of hand sanitizer over. There was a teenage girl and her mom hovering by the Redbox machine right next to us and apparently, I bumped into the teenage girl. It couldn't have been more than a slight bump because I didn't feel nor see it. I just picked up the (empty) sanitizer bottle (maybe this was what actually hit her, I don't know, but something evidently tapped the girl) and put the bottle back on the stand and grabbed some wipes. I started wiping down the cart, meanwhile Remy was just standing so good right next to the cart drinking her smoothie. The mom to the teenager then said to me "You could teach your daughter some manners and could've told her to say 'excuse me' because that hit my daughter." I wasn't sure I heard her correctly, as I was trying to quickly wipe the cart down, so I responded with "What?" And she repeated it again, then quickly stormed off in a huff. I didn't say anything back to her, as she was already off into the store, but the look I was giving the back of their heads probably froze Jamaica.
Here's the thing,
1: Remy didn't do anything. I was the one moving the cart and apparently "hit" her teenage daughter. Had I known I'd bumped into that girl, I would have said something. But I wasn't aware I had and obviously the mom wasn't paying much attention either to blame my toddler for it.
2: Remy does have manners and I do teach my kids right from wrong.
3: Remy wouldn't have said anything to her, even if I'd told her to because Remy doesn't know who the heck this lady is!
I know I'm a good mom. I don't believe anything that lady said. But here's what bothers me about it, she saw a 3 year old in a grocery store and immediately assumed she had done it. That she was trouble. And she pre-judged me as a mom. Moms are constantly under scrutiny with every move our kids make. When a child acts up or throws a fit in a grocery store and the mom starts sweating and getting hot in the face and stressing out, it's not because the kid is throwing a fit. It's because she's worried what the other customers are thinking of her while her child is throwing a fit. Does a mom get that worked up over a fit when they're alone at home? Most likely, no. So why do we get so worked up and worry what others think when we're in public? Because of people like this lady! There are people who will accuse us to our face of being a bad mom. Our biggest fear. That we're failing at raising our kids. Strangers see one tiny moment of ugliness and immediately judge us. That lady didn't see Remy at the end of our shopping trip at the checkout counter say please to the cashier for a sticker. She only knows her daughter said she was hit by something and she immediately blamed Remy, who did nothing wrong.
I've seen a lot of articles and blogs recently along the lines of "Hey mom in Target, I see you struggling and your kid is acting up and I applaud you. I got your back....." And we do need that encouragement! When I had to fly with both girls by myself last Summer to Maine, I was soooo worried leading up to it. Remy was only 2 and we don't fly by maybe once a year and it takes 12 hours to get to Maine. The thing I stressed about the most were the other passengers. I worried my girls would be tired or hungry or cranky and have a moment and we'd get kicked off the plane like I'd heard in news stories. What hadn't occurred to me before going on this trip was that I wouldn't be the only parent with kids flying! Duh me. I had this vision of corporate people and kid-haters groaning at the sight of us. I was pleasantly surprised to see several families. At one stop, I saw a Dad playing with his little one and he must've felt the anxiety about traveling with kids as I did, because he looked at me and said with apology "He's got to run off some energy. We've had a 4 hour flight and another one ahead." I quickly assured him his child was perfectly fine and we were in the same boat and to not be sorry at all. I had his back.
I just constantly get the feeling the world is becoming more "anti-kid" if that makes sense. Hearing phrases like "That mom needs to learn to control her kids" and such. And I'm so tired of it. There's definitely a difference between a mom who's kid is running through the store, aiming shopping carts at the elderly and throwing canned goods across the aisle while the mom just stands there and does nothing. But in the 7 1/2 years I've been a mom, I've never seen a mom do nothing while their child acts up. Kids are going to act up. They're kids. Maybe I just have a higher tolerance for it, being a mom of young ones, but people need to get over it. Because otherwise they start accusing a 3 year old for doing wrong when they're just standing there being good. And when a kid is acting up and you see a mom sweating and doing something about it, how about offering some encouragement? We're all just trying to do our best here.
This mom on Monday could have used that moment to teach her teenager compassion and mercy instead of condemning me. She wasn't thinking about her teenage daughter one day becoming a mom and what she would have liked a stranger to say to her daughter if she were a mom in my shoes. Perhaps then she would've said something more polite like "excuse me, did you know you bumped into my daughter?" And then I would've apologized and explained I wasn't aware. Or maybe she would've realized it was an accident, not some act of evil and would have just let it go and not said anything. But she chose to say what she did and I'm not going to lie, it shook my confidence for a moment. Just a moment though.
I just wanted to share this (if you're still reading this longest post ever ) to the other moms out there in case your confidence as a parent gets shaken by a stranger some day. You're not alone and I want you to know I've got your back and to remind you that you're doing a great job. We all need to be in this together.