To the Judgy Lady at Wegmans,
Yesterday afternoon we almost ran into each other while shopping for groceries at Wegmans. Thank you for alerting me to the fact that my child darted in front of your shopping cart.
I greatly appreciate that you stopped your cart so as not to bash my son with it. I’m sure the effort required of you to do that was overly burdensome. It was also kind of you to exert yourself further by holding up 2 fingers at my face to emphasize your point. That is, just in case I didn’t understand that it happened not once, but twice.
In fact, there was a hand signal I had considered communicating back to you, but instead I apologized and moved on. Both times.
Although what you may have seen when you were judging us was an unruly three-year-old and aloof mother, you missed some things. When you almost ran into my son the first time, he was making a beeline for the trashcan to discard a piece of someone else’s trash that he had found on the floor. He insisted that he “do it by myself!” and I encouraged him, since the waste bin was only a few feet away. That’s when you came whizzing by.
Anyone who has ever been around children knows their desire to become independent little human beings is natural, but oftentimes fierce. The process can sometimes be difficult for parents too as we have to balance and learn when to hold on to our kids tight and when to let go. In this instance, the decision was very easy for me. It was a piece of trash and he wanted to do the right thing. Also, who knows whether or not he would have put it in his mouth if he held onto it any longer. Kids do that kind of thing sometimes. You know, because they are kids.
You also likely missed the way he picked out kale, carrots, and apples by himself and placed them gently in the shopping cart. The way he kindly said “please” and “thank you” to the nice lady offering applesauce samples. How he quietly ate the (organic) peanut butter sandwich (on whole wheat bread) I had the foresight to bring with us to stave off a hunger-induced meltdown at the grocery store. Or the way he sweetly helped me load the groceries onto the check out counter.
Lady, you missed a lot more than you saw that day, but I didn’t judge you for it.
It did remind me about one Mom’s inspiring experience with a stranger in a grocery store, To the Woman Behind Me in Line at the Grocery Store. Wouldn’t it be nice if we judged people less? You can never know another person’s struggles, no matter what they look like, wear, or how their children act. Sometimes giving people the benefit of the doubt is the way to go.
I like to believe that we are all just doing our best and a little kindness goes a long way. So does a smile, even if you are gritting through your teeth. Be kind to others. That’s what I teach my son. Even at Wegmans.
The Mom Grocery Shopping with her Three-Year-Old
Jes Peterson, author of the blog Jes’ Delights, works full-time for a D.C. non-profit and lives with her husband and three-year-old son in Annapolis, Maryland. Work, life, what about balance? One of the hardest aspects of being a working parent is accepting that we cannot do it all and keep our sanity. Jes writes about juggling work and family life, making time for a healthy lifestyle, and her personal experiences as a working mother. Her writing has been featured on Care.com, Fit Pregnancy magazine, and she enjoys sailing and traveling off the beaten path with her family.