It was summertime, and my daughter was about 8 months old. We were in the checkout line at the grocery store.
My baby was dressed something like this:
She wasn’t wearing shoes because…well…she couldn’t yet walk and it was summertime!
An older woman in front of me in line was making cute faces at my daughter, then frowned, turned to her and said, “Oh no, baby! Where are your shoes?”, then shot me a look.
My take-no-prisoners tiger mom alter-ego started to take over, and I really wanted to say to her something like:
Hey Lady! First of all, my baby is 8 months old. She can’t talk. You are talking to my baby, but your comment was for me. Why be so passive aggressive? If you have something to say, you can say it to me. Or better yet, keep your opinion to yourself. Second of all, why do little babies need shoes in the first place? She can’t walk yet. Her feet touch literally nothing. Plus, it’s hot outside and I don’t want her to overheat.
But I am not rude. And I care too much about what people think of me. So instead I pretended not to hear her.
When we got up to the checkout counter, our cashier was a young woman who couldn’t have been older than 18. She smiled at my daughter, reached over the cart, and quickly plucked the pacifier out of her mouth, saying in a baby voice “You don’t need that paci anymore girl. Give me that paci”.
I calmly put it back in my daughter’s mouth and said, “Her pediatrician says it’s fine for kids to use them until the age of 3 and it comforts her”, but I was really thinking “Is there something in the freaking water? Don’t touch my daughter. Especially her mouth. If you have something to say about my parenting, say it to ME!”
I loaded up the car and started questioning myself. Does my baby really need shoes on right now? Should she not be using a pacifier? Am I missing something really important here? Do I look like a hot mess, and that’s why these women think they need to “help” me? Am I a bad mom?
Then, I started getting defensive again. Wait, she doesn’t need shoes! How dare she judge me! Her doctor says she can use a pacifier. This girl is nuts.
On the drive home, I thought it through more and realized they both most likely love kids, meant well, and probably just wanted to interact with a cute baby.
Later, I was still in my head, so I started questioning why it made me upset in the first place. Why am I letting these little, insignificant comments get to me so much?
I think it’s because I care so very deeply about being a good mom. The decisions my husband and I make on how to raise our children are based on knowledge of our kids, information from their doctors, and our own research and beliefs. So when others question them, it feels like they don’t agree with me as I am, down to my core. And part of it is caring about the approval of others. And another part is being sleep deprived and over-sensitive, probably 🙂
Have any of you all felt judged for your parenting choices? How does it make you feel when strangers make little comments like this?
This is Day 6 of my 30 Day Writing Challenge.
Feel free to join me by writing about what you were really thinking.
Post a link in the comments below and I’ll be sure to read and comment.