I have lamented many, many times about my disdain for the mom judgement with which we are so frequently faced. And I have tried, tried, tried to not be one of those judgey moms. I know that each family circumstance is different, that without walking a mile in your shoes I couldn’t possibly know why you have made the choices you have, and that your decisions are what is best for your family. You know that, and that is what matters most, mama.
But when you feel the judgement passed against you, oh it stings. It fills you with a fiery little ball of anger in the pit of your stomach; you bite your tongue and take the high road, and carry on. Most of the time.
Before we begin, you should know that Miles and I do most of the grocery shopping together, and that he loves Sesame Street. Like, A LOT. He knows the names of all the characters, and he dances any time he hears one of those Muppets singing a song (even if it’s on streaming music, and not the actual show).
At our Publix, it’s impossible to enter the bakery and deli without first passing through the flowers. In the floral department, there are balloons, and in this giant menagerie of balloons on sticks, there are Sesame Street characters. There is one in particular who causes great squeals of joy when we walk into the store: Ernie. No, wait…it sounds more like, “EEEERRRRRRRNNNNNNIIIIIIIIEEEEEEEE!!!!! ERNIE! ERNIE! ERNIE! ERRRNIIIEEE!!!!!” And so began the tradition of buying an Ernie balloon when we’re at Publix. It was $2.99 of pure joy for my son.
Then, while checking out last week, a woman responded to Miles’ joyous Ernie-llujah Chorus with, “Well, they start younger and younger…”
Now, I knew what she meant right away. This woman, whom we’ve never met or seen before, assumed that my child must spend an exorbitant amount of time in front of the TV. And the thought of her passing that judgement made me pretty angry, because that’s not what we do, AT ALL. Miles is allowed to watch three TV shows (Sesame Street, Super Why! and The Chica Show) for 20 minutes a day, tops. TV is the glorious savior that brings me things like the ability to cook dinner without burning myself and/or my toddler. For some parents, 20 minutes a day is no big deal; for others, their children won’t even view an electronic screen until they’re at least two years old. To each his own, right?
But still, that judgement. Oh, how it burned my biscuits.
We love Publix. This woman was just some mannerless out-of-towner. We moved on.
This afternoon, I was faced with the task of stopping at Publix after work. Now, I knew this would need to be a quick trip so we could get home, have dinner, and keep our normal routine. We arrive, get an Ernie balloon, and go about our business. After picking up the necessities (milk, produce, dinner, crayons for Miles and cookies for me) we got in line to check out.
It was a long line, filled with couponers and BOGOers and people with the weekly flyer. We persevered. Miles grew annoyed with the drawing pad we picked up, because it was not a book as he’d originally thought, and the blank pages were frustratingly storyless. A chorus of “no no no no no” followed by “ERNIE! ERNIE! ERNIE” began.
While the gal was ringing us up, she asked if I really “needed” the Ernie balloon. I told her we did, that it was something we pick up most times we come shopping. She responded with a look (moms, you know the look…) and I jokingly said, “I’m sure I’m creating a monster!”
“Oh yes, YOU ARE.”
And there it was: that fiery ball of rage, filling my brain with images of tying 1,000 Ernie balloons to this woman and watching her float away, just like the house in the movie Up.
You see, this woman doesn’t know us, not like she thinks she does. And while she may see a whiny toddler getting his way, that five minute interaction isn’t enough for her to really know our afternoon. This woman had no idea that I was tired (so very, very tired) and still wearing my heels, or that I’d needed to poop since 4:57pm (moms have bowels and bladders of great fortitude, FYI) She didn’t know that Miles was getting hungry, needed his shoes off his feet RIGHTNOWRIGHTNOWRIGHTNOW or that he’s cutting his last molar (praise the Tooth Fairy). She also has no children, so she’s never experienced the 80% joy and 20% frustration that is toddlerhood. She didn’t know any of this, and so, she judged.
But these two not-so-wonderful experiences at Publix will not deter us; after all, they are the perfect summation of parenting, in which the 80/20 rule applies. Our days are happy, joyful, filled with fun and blessings, and we are so very, very thankful for them…especially when the difficult days, with tantrums, teething, and “NONONONONO” occur. But those few bad moments could never, ever change the love and gratefulness we feel each and every day.
We got home at 5:58pm. I promptly turned on Sesame Street, which gave me the 20 minutes I needed to get dinner together, put away the groceries, and most importantly: POOP.