When Amy, a member of our North Shore Mums Facebook group shared her heartbreaking story of being shamed and berated for her crying baby, we simply had to share it (with her permission, of course).
I am not proud of my behaviour yesterday, but I feel the need to tell my story. I thought of posting anonymously and maybe I will wish I had but I want to be real and show that it’s ok not to have it together all the time. We all make mistakes and we can learn from them.
I wasn’t having the best day. It was one of those mum days where it doesn’t matter what you do if your bubba isn’t in your arms they are just going to scream. My son is 13 months old and ordinarily on a day like that I would just pack up and go home, but there were things I needed to get done (like drop off the 12 poo samples I’ve collected over the last week for my two daughters due to their gastrointestinal symptoms and I needed to grab a few things so we could, you know, eat).
So I’m walking through the shopping centre, I have intermittently taken my son out of the pram and walked carrying him but as soon as he goes back in the pram he’s crying. Which is of course inevitable because he is heavy and I can’t carry him the whole time whilst also pushing the pram. I would normally have the carrier with me but I took it out of the car because it’s a rental we have been using due to someone running into me a while back and we may need to return the car even though our car isn’t ready yet so I had been trying to clear the car and forgot to put back the carrier of course so I’m walking through the shopping centre with a screaming baby just wanting to grab a few things in woolies and then get out as quickly as possible.
I manage to grab what I need and I’m just trying to choose between which container I’ll get for the gluten and grain free bread. I’m now baking every second day due to a diet our family is doing for the gut issues we are having and I’m using scan and go to be as quick as I can and my son is screaming which is compounding my indecision but I just need to grab something.
Then as I’m deep in thought, a senior couple walk close to me (well within the 1.5m), and the the lady says to me in a tone saturated with judgement and really commanding me as opposed to sharing an opinion “you need to attend to your baby!”
To which I reply. “ you need to mind your own business!”
To which she made some sort of comment along the lines of it is her business, because she is listening to him screaming. So I correct her again, saying it’s really none of her business and then her husband gets up in my face and begins yelling at me and honestly I don’t even know what he said because I just snapped, and began a tirade of foul language basically telling him to leave me alone.
I’m not proud of the way I reacted and it is totally my responsibility. I wish I had just walked away, but I do know it was a triggered anxiety attack and likely to do with another incident a couple of years ago where another person yelled in my face, and I took it seemingly calmly and then had a massive anxiety attack that took 6 months to recover from.
I’m thankful to the beautiful lady who stood up for me and told the elderly gentleman to leave me alone and another mum who did the same thing. I was so ashamed of my own behaviour I just wanted to be swallowed whole and my son was now hysterical so I picked him up out of the pram.
The couple walked off satisfied they had done their civic duty leaving me in a sobbing mess unable to even look at anyone just trying not to pass out from the flood of anxiety that was washing over me.
The beautiful ladies around me were supportive and the Woolworths staff member who came and took me to a quiet room out the back and helped me calm down. She was so empathetic. A mother and grandmother. I don’t know the names of any of these women but I just want to thank them.
I’m really not proud of my behaviour. There are so many better ways I could have handled that situation but I hope at least one thing comes from it, that the couple who berated me will think twice before giving unsolicited advice to a parent who is just trying their best to get through their day.
When you see a screaming baby with its mum, try to remember she is feeling 10 times more stressed about the crying than you are. Remember you’re only seeing a split second in the scheme of her mothering. If you can’t help but be judgemental just do the world a favour and keep it to yourself. She’s probably already judging herself she doesn’t need you compounding that.
When you see someone struggling with their kid, if you must say anything at all just tell them they are an amazing mum because statistically they probably are, and on the off chance they aren’t mother of the year, you giving them positive uplifting vibes will if anything bring them closer to it but criticising them will only ever make things worse.
If you’ve managed to read this far you’ve done well. Thank you for reading my story. I’m sorry if you’ve had uninvited judgement from someone, my heart goes out to you.
We are all doing our best for our kids. Keep up your amazing job.
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