Don’t judge me. Or the woman breastfeeding at the mall. Or the mom giving her newborn baby a bottle at the park. Or the dad whose three-year-old is still in diapers. Or the toddler that is using a binky. And yes, especially don’t judge the parent whose child is being louder than you would like (whether that be by crying, throwing a tantrum, or shrieking with excitement). Why? Because you don’t know their story, and you don’t know mine.
Here’s the thing:
I am always doing the best I can, and I know that you are too. I don’t ever start my day thinking, “Today, I’m just going to give parenting half of what I have. I’ll let my kids misbehave and cause a ruckus while I just sit back and relax.” Nope. Never happened and never going to. I start each day with a desire to keep my kids happy and healthy, and I always give it my all. I’m sure you do too.
Let me tell you a story:
The other day my family went out to eat. It was a casual dining restaurant that was full of people from every age group. My husband took my one-and-a-half-year-old son outside to go for a little walk so that I could finish my meal. When they came back in, my son saw me from across the restaurant and screamed with excitement (what can I say, he’s a momma’s boy). Of course, I smiled and reached my arms out for him.
And then I noticed that the entire population of the restaurant was staring at me. No, they weren’t smiling with fondness of how sweet it is that this little boy was so thrilled to see his mommy. They were glaring at me with looks full of judgment.
Their eyes said:
“How are you letting your child scream?”
“You are a horrible mother.”
“Why aren’t you stopping his shriek?”
You know why? Because I don’t want my child – my happy, excited, unscathed-by-the-world child – to lose his delightfulness. I don’t want him to think that it’s not okay to show his emotions. And I am not about to teach him that he should make himself less happy to appease others.
When you see other parents out and about, and they aren’t doing things exactly as you would, know that they are doing the best they can. They have a reason for doing what they do. You don’t have to agree, but you should at least smile (or even ignore them!). Because the last thing any parent needs is degrading looks from strangers that make them feel about one inch tall.