To The Judgy Lady…

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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.

Kind regards,

The Mom Grocery Shopping with her Three-Year-Old

jesheadshothires 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.

10 Comments

  • Amen, sister. I feel this way a lot – I’ve learned to stop apologizing. Young boys are rowdy. It’s in their DNA.
    Becky @ bybmg recently posted..First Birthday Party: W is for WesleyMy Profile

  • carol says:

    I’m sorry. I’m sure you’re not going to be happy with me for this but…
    You said, “Lady, you missed a lot more than you saw that day, but I didn’t judge you for it.” Actually you did. That’s what this entire post was. You may not have made a comment to her face. Although if you were bothered enough to go home and post this I’m sure your body language said a lot. You state, “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.” But you didn’t give her the benefit of the doubt, who knows what she was going through that day.
    If you really 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.”
    Then you would have believed that she honestly had your son’s best interest at heart, smiled, and not gone home and posted about how horrible she was on the internet.
    Do you really believe that posting this is teaching your son to smile and move on. Or do you think that it is teaching him to hold a gripe and passively aggressively judge others.
    Maybe I’m her. Maybe I’m not.

  • Jes says:

    Carol, thanks for your comment, I could not dislike you for sharing your opinion. This post was about my perception of the incident. I never implied that she was horrible. I was just pointing out stuff to elucidate the point that you can never really know what is going on with someone. Just as I had no idea what was going on with her and gave her the benefit of the doubt, said I was “sorry” and moved on. I doubt my body language said anything other than “I’ve got my hands full”, but I can’t say how she perceived me that day. I do know that if it had been the other way around and her child had been in front of my cart, I would have smiled at her and said, “It’s ok.”
    Twitter: jessicapeterson

  • Thanks for the reminder to be kind, Jes. Sometimes it does seem like people forget how challenging having small kids can be.
    Justin Knight recently posted..There Goes EasterMy Profile

    • Jes says:

      Thank you Justin! Nobody has all the answers all of the time, but we can encourage each other to do our best and express ourselves the best we can. You’re a gem.
      Twitter: jessicapeterson

  • Jaclyn Kent says:

    I love this! I think some people also just have a different view of what THEY want my child to be that just doesn’t match up with what I want y child to be. I don’t want a quiet, hands by your side, walk right next to me kinda kid. I just don’t. If that’s what you want, then use your own uterus!
    Jaclyn Kent recently posted..What This Mama Wore: Fall FloralMy Profile

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