Tonight as I sit in my son's bed, I'm reflecting on a stressful trip to the grocery store. I mean, what trip to the store in which I have all 5 of my children is NOT?
They are amazing, well behaved children. I actually get comments all the time about how obedient & wonderful they are when we are out... but sometimes, just sometimes, they act like...
They act like CHILDREN.
(Cue horror film screaming)
That's right, my children, who are in a public place, might have a moment where they act their age. And I will not apologize for it.
It's not because I am judging the typically middle aged women who find it appalling; not because I "have my hands full" (duh!); not because I am a lenient, weak mother. It's because I wouldn't accuse a 40 year old for acting or not acting their age. I wouldn't react to a 90 year old for not acting their age either! However, there is STILL this unspoken belief in public places that a "child should be seen and not heard".
It plays out like this:
If my 3 year old has a moment & doesn't want to leave the dairy section (true story), letting out a whining "nooooo," then the woman choosing her fat free yogurt gives a nose-held-high, under her breath "ugh!" It matters not how I approach the situation. I am officially the *poor woman with the out of control children*.
If my 5 & 7 year old have a squabble over who wants to put the broccoli in the cart (yes, true again), I get eye rolls from the woman shopping for pork. However, the man of a similar age, shopping for ice cream a couple freezer doors down gives a little quiet chuckle... Because let's face it, it's comical. We have a big family. Chances are we need more than one bag of frozen broccoli! They'll all have a chance!
And if my 3 year old walks across the aisle to grab the bagels, being an amazing helper, but forgets to look both ways before crossing back across... The lady in the green eye shadow mumbles a "good grief!" Yes. My thoughts exactly. Good grief!
First, I'd like to tell all you mommas in the checkout lane... It's almost over! You're almost out of here & you deserve a medal. It doesn't matter if you have 1 child or 10. Taking your kiddos to the store is stressful. There are judgemental onlookers, bright colored packages that your child "neeeeeeds" you to buy, and somehow everyone has to go potty 50 times as soon as you enter the building.
Second, I'd like to address those "women of a certain age". I've had "a lot of kids" for several years now, so I'm only making an observation. Generally the cranky comments & snarky non-verbal disapproval comes from women. Generally they are middle aged. Generally the men laugh it off. Now, this is not every, single time. I understand that some of you 54 year old women out there might love large families or children or whatever. Who knows, maybe it's just where I shop.
BUT to the rest of your generation who rolls their eyes, I'd like to say that your reactions not only don't help, but they hurt. For those of you who had children, would it have encouraged you to hear a stranger comment loudly nearby about how "when I had children, we knew how to handle that"? Did you feel confident at every moment that you were doing the right things? So maybe my generation is more sensitive, or maybe we parent differently than your generation did... But could you consider that MAYBE after you gasped and you said something to your husband the next aisle over that I walked out to my car with my children, loaded the groceries, handed them all a snack & took the cart back. Then, as I close our sliding door, I take a deep breath & cry. I cry because sometimes it's all just a little much!
That's right, you might not have even said anything, but you didn't have to. I saw your eyes. You, with the Christmas sweater & green eye shadow. I saw you. You might purposefully go to the grocery store during the day to shop in peace, and my homeschooling crew came in on our Friday off ruining your silent shopping. You might be tired after teaching elementary school for 20 years. You might have grand kids. You might not. Maybe you have a headache. Maybe you have a disease. I don't know.
That's the key, my friends. I don't know their story, just like they don't know mine. They don't know that I am trying to keep track of my budget as I shop and that I have something called Discalculia, making it extremely difficult for me to do any mental math. They don't know that I'm pregnant under that sweatshirt. They don't know how proud I am of my 5 year old who has Autism Spectrum Disorder because these trips used to be so much harder! They don't understand how hard it is for my children with Sensory Processing or ADHD to even go into a grocery store!
So, if I don't know your story, and you don't know mine...
Don't you think we should all just give each other a little more grace? Can I allow the middle aged woman to act her age & she allow my children to act theirs?
To you, my dear woman in the green eyeshadow. May I share what I would rather see in your eyes? Instead of the judgement & irritation, I wish I could have seen some kindness. I wish I could have seen a smile. I wish I could have seen a softness that said "you're doing a great job, honey!"
And you don't even have to say a word, because I can see it all in your eyes.
I am a mommy of SEVEN (yes 7) beautiful kids! They are amazing, wonderful, hilarious & the greatest babies I could ask for! I am married to my best friend & high school sweetheart, Michael.
I love to craft. I love to decorate. I am passionate about natural living & natural birthing. Sometimes I write stuff. I plan parties like my life depended on it. My favorite color is pink. My house is definitely NOT taupe. I typically cannot keep plants alive. I am only allowed to have dogs as pets because all others tend to have the same end result as the plants. Luckily my track record with kids is pretty good! Also, I drink a lot of coffee. And I really like tacos.