#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?