Updated: Aug 23
“Motherhood is about extending grace…to your kids and to yourself as a parent. It’s about remembering that they are kids but they won’t be forever and this place you are in won’t either. So give yourself grace and *try* to enjoy this season” Sabrina at BrinaLynn.com
It took a year and 15 days but my first mom shaming moment happened and it didn’t sit all that well with me. Maybe I was just tired or maybe it’s in my nature to be considerate of others and their experience, but whatever it is this insignificant interaction hit me a lot harder than I expected.
On a Friday evening recently, my husband suggested meeting for dinner after I picked up our baby after work. For some reference, we had gotten through Thanksgiving, the baby’s first birthday a week later, I got sick, then she had Roseola (a common, but a little scary toddlerhood virus), and she had 4 teeth getting ready to burst through her poor little sore gums. She had been on edge and I was run down, so I was already skeptical of how this was going to go. But I really didn’t want to cook and I didn’t feel like frozen pizza again. So we met half way at Olive Garden (a family restaurant). My plan going in was to get some dinner, quickly and painlessly. No lingering over the menu, and I was equipped with enough food and entertainment to hopefully get baby through 45 minutes in a high chair.
They sat us in a booth in the back of a smaller room, settled us in with menus and crayons, which… she’s 1, so she doesn’t quite grasp the whole coloring thing yet, but she likes to try. Things were fine until halfway through dinner when Charlotte was “coloring” and let out a couple of loud (not upset..more excited) shrieks. Three shrieks to be exact. I remember them not because they were all that memorable or out of the ordinary, but they became memorable when an older lady at the next table turned around and very loudly and deliberately told us to “keep that kid quiet!” At first I was dumbfounded. My husband looked at me and asked if she was serious, because of how seriously she has just scolded us (he was sitting with his back to Scrooge McDuck). Maybe she was joking? No, no… she was at least 80 years old and very serious. I replied, “she’s 1” and muttered something about being old under my breath.
In the moment, I was pissed which is my natural reaction to rude people. But almost immediately something I didn’t expect happened and I completely crumbled inside. I felt the tears rushing to my eyes, and my heart broke. Here’s where the exhaustion of just being “on” non-stop took over. Sheer embarrassment set in over the fact that I was just reprimanded for my baby (being a baby) in the middle of a restaurant. I held back the tears until we finished dinner and I got to my car. But then I cried… for hours. I’d get it together, and lose it again. I couldn’t stop and believe me I tried. I didn’t want to cry, and I wasn’t wallowing or feeing sorry for myself. I kept telling myself that it was so insignificant, and I need thicker skin. And the people around us probably thought that the lady was as ridiculous as we did. They were kind, and told us how adorable they thought our baby was. And I’m sure this won’t be the last time I’ll be on the receiving end of someone else’s negativity at the expense of my child. However, my point for sharing is that I’ve been that lady… not to the point that I would openly embarrass someone in public. But I’ve been annoyed by other people’s kids. And I’ve been out with people who are annoyed by children around us, essentially being children.
Until now, I never knew what it was like being on the receiving end. Frankly – it sucks. It’s terrible having little to no control over what your tiny human, who you are so in love with, does or says at any given moment. As parents, you can only prepare so much for what is going to happen once you step out of the comfort of your own home. Please, please think twice before you make rude and unnecessary comments to other people or just loud enough for others to hear. Because believe me, that Mom on the airplane, in the restaurant, out shopping, wants nothing more than to make it through that flight or meal or whatever without a tantrum, a blow out, an injury or just typical child behavior. And they definitely want everyone else to have a pleasant experience. Making them feel like I felt in the middle of that restaurant doesn’t help anyone, and it definitely won’t “keep that kid quiet”.