To the brave mom I encountered in the grocery store:
I’m still thinking about what happened, even though several weeks have passed. I wish that I had said or done something–ANYTHING–while I had the chance.
You see, I was shopping alongside you that quiet Sunday afternoon. I didn’t have my kids with me. They were at home with my husband. And so I was enjoying a rare, stress-free errand. You had your young (1.5? 2 years old?) son with you. I was in my own little world, mentally checking off my grocery list, looking for my favorite brand of coffee creamer. I didn’t even notice you or your son just a few steps away.
Then it happened. A man nearby directed his attention at you and said, “That kid is being obnoxious.”
My heart dropped into my stomach. Did he seriously just say that? I hadn’t even heard your son make a peep! And even if he had, what on earth would compel this man to say that?
You stopped; looked up. “Excuse me? My son? He’s a baby, sir. Not obnoxious. He’s a baby. And you don’t know anything about him. Why would you say that?”
The man made another snide comment, and you continued to defend your son. I’d like to say I would have stood my ground too, had I been in your shoes. I honestly don’t know what I would have said or done.
I wanted to say something to support you, but my mind was on overdrive. People all around us were stopping to watch and stare, open-mouthed. My heart was racing. I was angry–HORRIFIED–for your sake. I frantically searched for the creamer I needed, but my brain wasn’t working.
As your argument with the man escalated, I found my creamer, dropped my gaze to the ground, and fled.
I was the opposite of brave. I walked away.
I’m not proud to admit that. I don’t do well with confrontation, especially confrontation that involves strangers. But the reality is this: I am a mom, too. I have been the mom with the obnoxious kid more times than I can count. In the grocery store, on the airplane, in the restaurant, at the wedding. We’ve ALL been that mom.
I know that your son was too young to understand what was happening, but I hope you didn’t take that man’s words to heart. I should have said something that day; should have stood by you. I should have seconded your statements: “He’s not obnoxious. He’s a baby. Why would you say that?” Then I should have stayed to make sure you were okay. To make sure that you didn’t have any doubt that you were an AMAZING mom raising an AMAZING kid.
You were a brave mom that day, and I wasn’t. I need to apologize for that. As the saying goes: this mom thing, it takes a village. I wish I would have been your village that day. I’m going to work harder next time I’m in a situation like this. No mother or child should ever be so blatantly humiliated, in the way that man attempted that day. Thank you for being so strong and for showing me what it looks like to be brave.
You are a great mom raising a great kid, and you are a force to be reckoned with.
Originally published March 2018.