I just want you to know- I had your back. I was trying to make eye contact and give you the mom-sisterhood of “you’ll survive this, smile.” However, you were too busy trying to get the diapers paid for -so you could escape the stares and just loud enough to be heard, critiques of your parenting.
I know the looks.Those glares leave a sunburn on a mom-heart. I’ve heard the comments. I’ve received my share. From other shoppers. From retail workers, from random strangers and pretty much everyone you can imagine. I’ve heard them all: “She should get her kids under control.” “In my day we didn’t tolerate that kind of behavior.” “If your baby is crying- you should leave and spare the rest of us.” And of course the ever popular: “Can’t she hear that child screaming?”
The answer is: Yes. We moms have supersonic hearing. In addition to a hyper sensitivity to the cries of our own child that makes our heart beat in time with our headaches as if a marching band playing in in our body- we can hear all the hurtful things said about us. Yes, even when our kids are screaming.
Here’s the thing, Mom. I’ve been there: planning my trip for groceries and diapers perfectly between nursings and naps. I’ve darted from the house for the 13 minutes in the day when I had the best shot at a quiet, unevent-filled trip. And then my kids happened, too. They’re like that.
I want you to know I saw you make it through produce and head straight back to milk. I heard you telling silly stories to distract the toddler while jiggling the cart to keep the baby happy. I saw you grab the diapers- and I watched while you were sprinting to the finish line. AKA: the register. I was cheering you on, sister. And then- the kids imploded and your milk came in. Ugh . MY stomach turned. I know that feeling. It’s a fight or flight thing. An instant of panic…. and then a choice: “Do I risk the line and the concentrated judgment there? (Those confined spaces make it me feel like I’m under a parenting microscope. PS: it’s very helpful that they put all that “out of our budget and not in our eating plan crap impulse buy stuff” rt there- to make it more difficult. The alternative to facing The line of scrutiny and tantrum temptation? Leave a cart full of stuff I need and end up coming back only to make it halfway through produce before this happens again.” I’d stay, too. I have. Lots of times.
It happens to all of us.
I also know you were just trying to survive- and feed little people and keep bottoms from getting rashie. You weren’t shopping for Manolo’s on Park Ave. It was diapers and milk at wal****. Let’s face it. Wal**** is not exactly a place of serenity or decorum. It’s a place of crazy last minute dashes and families and noise and a dress code that is apparently open enough to inspire a website. Or, so I’ve heard.(It’s a mean site. Hilarious. But, mean.)
So- I purposefully got behind you in line. No, not to stalk you. (Although, it sounds like it right now.) I was just hoping to at least try the eye contact -thing. Cause, I know. I get it. And- I heard the comments from other shoppers. I wanted to help. Be a buffer. Something.
(Why do people think they’re snark will make our kids stop imploding? I mean, other than some people can be stupid… Or is that the only reason? It may be.)
Anyway. We didn’t make eye-contact. But, I noticed. And I want you to know, that after you left? When the cashier did exactly what you’d feared, and started rolling her eyes and going into the spiel about staying home if your kids are crying? “Blah blah blah.” I had your back. I didn’t go along with her. I didn’t smile and nod in agreement.
I told her I’d been there. I told her that kids spontaneously combust and you: STILL need diapers and milk. I told her that there were a hundred WORSE times you could have darted in that day- and she’s lucky it was timed as well as it was. I also told her that by the time you’re sprinting to the finish line, you’re exhausted as well as the kids, and you’re just hoping to make it to the car before you cry. Because you heard the comments. You felt, the stares.They hurt.
Basically- I (kind of loudly, cause I’m Italian- or obnoxious or passionate take your pick.) had it out with the cashier so that she- and everyone around us, could get a reminder about what parenting is really like: Hard. And that you were doing what had to be done. And you did. I promise I didn’t go crazy on them. I was all appropriate and everything. But: I had your back.
Even if you didn’t know.
You’re not alone. You’re loved. And it will get better. I promise. Someday you’ll be the one with her kids at school and work, in no rush at wal****. Maybe, you’ll do the same for some other mom.
Anyway- I just thought you should know.
With love, from a mom who’s been there- and survived.
Dear Lord- mothering is hard. Some parts are harder than others. Wal**** trips are right up there with vaccinations. No fun for anyone, painful and sometimes necessary. Lord, I pray that you’d raise a generation of moms that have each other’s back. I pray that we’d try to help instead of snarking and judging. I love you lord- and the moms you bring my way- even when their kids are imploding, I pray you’d bless each one who reads- and encourage us so we can encourage others- in your name- amen.
11 He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young.
Ps: I’m typing this on my phone at urgent care -sister- so forgive the type and lack of finesse. Like I said- I’m a mom… ;) As a mom, I’m multi tasking. The urgent care people prolly think I’m awful cause I’m typing away while my kid waits for X-rays and plays DS. Whatever. We do what we have to do, rt? Rt.
If you’re a mom who’s been “that mom” at wal****- and you’re feeling alone. I encourage you to visit a MOPS group near you- I’ve been working with moms there and been helped as a mom there for the past 24 years- MOPS gets moms. And loves them. Even when their kids are snotty faced screamers at Wal****.