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Raw Motherhood: Why I'm Choosing Understanding & Acceptance

Updated: Sep 12, 2023

To the elderly lady in Walmart today: I saw you before you saw me. You were trudging along slowly, browsing the shelves. I immediately felt a pang of concern. I don’t know if you recently had a surgery, or maybe got into an accident, but the multiple purple and black bruises coloring your face looked so painful. But I couldn’t dwell long.

See, my toddler has bad allergies like me. Allergies that don’t just cause sneezing or itchy eyes, but also extreme grogginess and bad headaches especially when there is stormy weather. He wasn’t having a great day and if I could have avoided going into Walmart I 100% would have, but there were necessity items on my list that couldn’t wait. I knew the risk, as any toddler mom does, to go into public with a fussy kid so when he started to cry over minor inconveniences I was prepared. What I wasn't prepared for was that all the factors of today combined would result in a complete emotional meltdown that he wasn’t able to pull himself out of. My boy is sensitive and predisposed to anxiety and emotional regulation struggles. Sometimes explaining things helps, or reasoning, or reminders of consequence, or just guiding him through deep breathing. Today, none of these things worked. I could tell this would be something he would need to cry out until he tired out before he would be able to calm down, which doesn’t happen often but any mama knows that even once feels like too many because it’s an extremely stressful and emotionally taxing situation. Since I was by myself, I made the decision to calmly but quickly grab my necessity items and get out as fast as possible. Yes, I was that mom going through the store with the loud child. Nobody likes it, but I bet almost every one of us has had to do it at least once. I was appreciative of the other women, and even some men, that gave me the knowing smiles that said “been there. It’ll pass.” I understood the others that intentionally looked away. I’m sure I looked frazzled, and I know crying kids in public is annoying to people.

We passed each other several more times. You kept your bruised face in other directions, continuing your browsing on a similar path as I was scurrying to grab my things - or so I thought. When I finally made it to the check-out line, my son had somewhat calmed down to a small sniffle. But then he got very quiet. I looked at him to see him staring off to our right, to the open aisle next to the check out lane. And I looked up to see you. You were stopped in the middle of the aisle. Your buggy was still essentially bare. Your bruises must not have been as painful as they looked or else the scowl on your face would have been hard to hold. I removed my earbud playing my current audiobook, thinking you needed something or had a question or that maybe I was in your way of viewing the row of snacks behind me. But that’s when I realized that you weren’t looking at me, you were staring - angrily staring at my son. And as I lowered my earbud, I caught the grumbled words spitting out of your mouth: “I could hear you crying all over this store. 2 minutes in the bathroom with me and that would’ve been done.”

I was frozen for a second, my brain trying to process. As you scowled at my son, my 3 year old sensitive boy who was now visibly afraid of this bruised up stranger being so angry toward him, I (unintentionally) shrilly said “Excuse me?!” To which you glanced at me, see that I saw you, and immediately take off down the aisle. For a brief moment I contemplated chasing you down, giving you a piece of my mind about your unsolicited remarks and the rudeness of your demeanor toward a child you do not know. But I reminded myself that my son needed out of this busy place to fully regain his composure, and that his little eyes and ears soak up everything I do in front of them. So I watched the back of your fuzzy white hair get lost in the crowd and stewed to myself.

By the time I reached my car, I could feel the angry and exhausted tears building up and I almost gave in to them. ALMOST. But I didn’t. I took a couple deep breaths, I called my own mother - who I knew would share my “what was she thinking” attitude while also helping me to brush it off - and then I decided to share your hatefulness. Not to complain. Not to vent. Not for a pity party. No, I am sharing your treatment of a complete stranger and a child to express why it’s so important to me to do what I've spent the last year working to do.

Parenting is the hardest thing a person can do. We’re molding tiny humans, in the hopes that we can teach them all the important things about life, love, honesty, expression, coping, relationships, emotions, skills, etc so that they can grow into a stable and successful adult with as little trauma and need for therapy as possible (maybe that’s more specific to my social worker brain, but the goal is always happy, healthy, stable).

Parents, mothers especially, need to support one another. Be understanding, be a safe space, and just be nice. Doubt is around every corner; we already question if we're doing the right things on a daily basis. In this moment of raw stress and raw emotions and raw feelings and raw motherhood, you chose judgement. You chose anger. You chose hostility. So instead of telling you how vile I think your actions were today, I will thank you, Bruised Lady, for reminding me how important it is to put myself out into the world as a source of acceptance and positivity to other moms and to tirelessly work every day to never allow myself to turn into you.


1 Comment

I'm so sorry you went through that! I'm also so proud of how you handled that, as I personally would have hollered at her from the check out to make sure everyone in that store knew that horrible old woman just threatened your 3 year old, and likely only because she noticed your ear bud and assumed you wouldn't hear her. It's not okay to parent another person's child unless you're a nanny following the family's views. Which would never be threatening a beating. My grandma was from another time too and may have threatened her own grandkids with spankens (but always just stood us in the corner😂), but she would NEVER have the gaul to address a strangers child.…

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