Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Dear Grocery Store Women:

#1: Dear woman at the grocery store who looked at my baby's bare feet and snidely said, "where are her socks?"

Yesterday was a tough day. After having all three of my kids wake up multiple times the previous night and then greet me very happily at 6 am, I was exhausted and barely hanging on.  My life as a stay-at-home parent is fraught with constant fights, endless messes, and incessant self-doubt. I am my harshest critic, especially in parenting. Instead of offering harsh advice, wouldn't a little kindness go further? And how did you know that I had socks to put on my baby? (I didn't, by the way, they had mysteriously disappeared over the week.)

I realize that maybe you were having a hard day and felt the need to look at me and my kids with judgment to make yourself feel better.  That's fine. I have those days, too.  But something that I am keenly aware of is how much we all struggle in life.  That woman who is carrying a coat-less child around during a snow storm, how do I know that her daughter didn't throw a series of tantrums while her mom tried getting her coat on?  Or that they even own a coat?  I don't. Instead of looking at her through my limited lens, I try to give the benefit of doubt.

#2: Dear woman at the grocery store who looked at me as I was wrangling my three kids in the check-out line and said, "you are doing awesome, keep it up!" -

Thank you.  I hope I treat everyone I meet with as much kindness as you showed me that day.


Two strangers who said vastly different things. While one led to a night full of parenting self-contempt with phrases like, "you worthless lump, how could you go out without putting socks on your baby's feet?" running through my head, the other led to a day in which I cried many tears of joy.  Finally, someone recognized how hard I work to keep calm while out with my kids.

It is my goal to be more like grocery store woman #2.  Rather than more parental judgment in this world, we need more support.

Which one are you?


  1. One day while blissfully shopping with one of the grocery store truck carts that the children sit up front, down low, below the basket where your groceries sit, a lady walked up to me and handed me a shoe. "I think this belongs to your baby". I looked in the cab and there she was, naked as the day she was born. I looked back and there was a trail of her clothes.

    When she was 2, EVERY. DAY. at 4 was naked time. No matter where, no matter what. I checked my watch and sure enough, it was 4.
    After that, I learned to have any public appearances done by the magic 'naked' hour.

    I had a mom in preschool ask me what I did about the problem of my child wanting to dress herself - as I watched miss pattern mixed with pattern (stripes two different ways with orange socks and purple shoes) walk away, I looked at her and said, "Not a problem. One less thing for me to do. If you think I put that together (pointing at miss stripes and stripes)I want what you have in the morning."

    Most of the time I just assume a kid either tossed it off or a parent carefully chose their battles.

    You are doing awesome. Keep it up!

  2. Amen! from one awesome mom to another. :)

  3. I try to be parent number 2. But I will admit that sometimes, the impulse in my head is parent number 1. And I try to push that voice aside as soon as it arises. It is hard to do, but something I am always working on. Thanks for this piece-- very poignant! You should consider submitting it over at Project: Underblog! I know so many moms would love to read it.