I experienced my first mom-shaming from a stranger yesterday.
Nine years in and four total years of breast-feeding, I’m admittedly shocked it’s taken this long. Although who knows what has been said behind my back… but this time it was right to my face.
I had stopped at the grocery store to pick up cupcakes on the way to baseball practice, as my oldest is turning nine. My son was already at practice with his stepdad, but I had my two littles with me. My youngest, who is two, is going through this fantastic stage in which he thinks the “catch me if you can” game is the best fun in the world. In an open area, this typically means walking slowly away from me, while giving the side eye and waiting until I advance towards him to laugh and take off running.
In the car it means dodging quickly from the front seat to the back and then back up to the front. You’d think I’d be more prepared to shut this game down by now, but yet… I’m not. It’s like he knows that if he gives me one good exit of the car, I’ll let my guard down just enough to get away with it next time.
Anyway; I had backed my car into a spot in the packed parking lot and gotten my daughter out of the car. She was patiently waiting next to me in the tight spot between cars when my son decided it was time to play his “pinball in the car” game.
In my haste to interrupt the game and open the back door for the third time, my door lightly tapped the side mirror of the car next to us. I glanced backwards and when seeing the driver was still sitting in her car, I said “Oh, I’m so sorry.”
To which the woman threw her arms up in the air and ROLLED HER EYES AT ME.
Any other day, I may have just ignored her and moved on. But not yesterday.
As I finally extracted my mischievous toddler from the backseat, she got out of her car. We made eye contact and I asked her if she had children. She replied in a rather condescending tone, “Yes, and I have 7 grandchildren.”
“Well, then you know how it can be sometimes.”
And then she said it.
“Yes, I do. And I was always more careful than that.”
As I began walking to the store entrance with a toddler on my hip and 4-year-old in hand, I responded over my shoulder by reminding her that I surely had not tapped her mirror with my door on purpose. To which she spurted out from behind me, “Well then you could have at least apologized for it. Especially in front of your children.”
I stopped in my tracks. I turned around for a brief second, looked at her and said, “I did apologize. And then you rolled your eyes at me.” As we walked away, I heard her tsk tsk to my back.
I want to teach my children good manners. I want them to know it’s polite to apologize when you make a mistake. But I also want them to know that it’s okay to stand up for yourself. I want them to know that sometimes people are mean and that it’s okay to not be okay with it.
And I hope that I never forget how difficult this is. That I never think that I am doing this parenting thing so much better than everyone else that I lose empathy for the mother who clearly did not mean to hit my mirror with her car door as she chased her toddler out of the car.
Ever been mom-shamed? It hurts- whether it's coming from a stranger or someone you know. This article has some great tips for how to re-frame your mindset when dealing with a judgie McJudgerson.
Power on, Mamas. You're doing great!
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Leah is a big believer that our future lies in raising children who are empathetic and supportive of differences. Leah enjoys finding the humor in parenting and sharing it as a way to encourage mothers to support each other. Once a Division I athlete, Leah still enjoys running and participating in races with her oldest son... even though she is much slower these days. New to the blogging world, Leah shares her experiences as a mom, behavior specialist, runner, and everything in between at www.outofthenutshell.com.www.outofthenutshell.com